IOWA CAUCUS WRAP UP
Expect much to be written over the coming days and weeks about Barack Obama’s surprise win in the nation’s first caucus of 2008.
Because Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa was historically significant, we have devoted a separate story to Why It’s Important and What It All Means.
That being said, on to coverage of the other candidates in the race! The media has been so Obama-obsessed as of late, it seems the incredible efforts put forward by the other presidential hopefuls have been almost completely overlooked.
“THE TORCH HAS BEEN PASSED” – JOHN EDWARDS
Obama’s inspirational victory speech will perhaps eclipse the brilliant and heartfelt one delivered by John Edwards, who pulled off an impressive second-place showing last night. This is unfortunate indeed, because one need look no further than Edwards’ words to hear the populist echoes of RFK.
“35 million people in America went hungry last year in the richest country on earth!” Edwards said with indignation. “We are better than this. Enough is enough!”
He told the assembled audience that “tonight, you have created and started a tidal wave of change that will sweep across the country,” and twice invoked President Kennedy’s message of “the torch being passed” to a new generation of Americans.
WHAT HAPPENED TO HILLARY?
For many, the biggest shocker of the night was Hillary coming in behind Obama and Edwards. Every poll going into the caucus showed her leading with at least a few percentage points over the competition. Not a single overpaid pundit predicted that Hillary would place third in Iowa. And nobody could seem to figure out what went wrong.
On the postgame CNN broadcast, Larry King asked former Clinton White House adviser David Gergen, “What happened to Hillary?”
“She got rolled by Barack Obama,” Gergen replied dryly.
Sacred cow Carl Bernstein was scratching his head in befuddlement over the results. “There’s something happening here…” the old man said, clearly unable to define exactly what it was.
Describing the group assembled around Hillary during her speech at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, he quite rightly observed: “You look at the faces behind Hillary and they’re all old faces. Barack Obama brings the youth. You could clearly see the devastation on Bill Clinton’s face.” David Gergen was quick to concur.
Meanwhile, over on Fox, Rush Limbaugh was having a field day, implying that Clinton brought this on herself with “an attitude of arrogant inevitability.” Calling it “the worst night of Hillary Clinton’s life,” Rush added with apparent glee that “this is a devastating and humiliating loss for Hillary.”
(PHOTO CAPTION: The look on Chelsea Clinton’s face pretty much says it all. After her mother’s devastating defeat in Iowa last night, Hillary brings out the big names to help her campaign in New Hampshire today. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at left. AP Photo.)
Not only did Obama prove the pollsters and pundits wrong with a 38%-to-29% win over Hillary Clinton, but former Arkanasas Governor Mike Huckabee made jaws drop on the Republican side, shutting out the predicted victor Mitt Romney with a nearly identical margin of victory.
Perhaps even sweeter still, Huckabee was outspent by his opponent 15 to one, and yet somehow managed to whup up on the former Massachusetts Governor at the polls. Is it just beginner’s luck for Huck? Or does this upset point to a much bigger trend? Huckabee thinks it does.
“Americans are sick of political dumpster diving,” he told Larry King, attributing the surprise victory to his strategy of staying above the mudslinging. “If you gain the whole world and lose your own soul, how does that benefit you?” Huckabee asked philosophically. “How does that qualify you to be president?
“Americans are clearly saying, `we want to give new people, a new generation, a chance to lead this country.‘ Here’s what we had that was better than money: we had people who gave their heart and soul. It’s a new day in American politics.”
You can say that again, Huck.
SO MUCH FOR CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
The 2008 Iowa Caucus will be remembered as a night of outrageous upsets for the favored frontrunners and unexpected underdog victories. It also signaled the end of at least two campaigns, with Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropping out of the race.
What will happen next is anybody’s guess. The dynamics in New Hampshire are far different politically, as is the voting process itself. Unlike the Iowa Caucus, where votes were counted by real human beings with hands (for the Democrats) and paper ballots (for the Republicans), New Hampshire’s will be tallied mostly by electronic voting machines.
Three of Robert Kennedy’s children traveled to New Hampshire today to help their candidate turn things around. Bobby Kennedy Jr., Kerry Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend made several campaign stops in the Granite state, stumping for Hillary in Nashua, Salem, Manchester and Milford. Rest assured that Clinton will be pulling out all the stops to ensure a solid victory over the next four days – and the Kennedy star power certainly won’t hurt a bit.
As all the candidates man their cannons and prepare for the “second Battle of Concord,” it is perhaps well to remember that 1775 battle was the first serious engagement of the Revolution. If what happened in Iowa last night is any indication of the future, the Second American Revolution (a peaceful one this time, we hope) is already well underway.
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