In a presidential campaign focused on the future, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama spend a lot of time talking about their pasts.
Both lean heavily on tales of early, formative experiences - she running a law clinic in Arkansas, he as a community organizer in Chicago - to show they understand the problems of average people.
Now the race for the Democratic nomination is coming down to its decisive contests, with Clinton locked in a do-or-die struggle to wrest that prize from an increasingly confident Obama, who appears poised to make history.
Voters in battleground states such as Ohio and Texas are still trying to take the measure of the two contenders - and for both candidates, these vignettes are a critical part of forging bonds with fellow Democrats.
Obama, for instance, grew up in Hawaii and briefly lived in New York - but returns time and again in speeches to the streets of Chicago's South Side, where he tried to help residents of the city's forgotten neighborhoods build a better life.
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