Where the Democratic candidates stand

Hillary Clinton

I entered this prolonged campaign season with an open mind towards Mrs. Clinton.  But after months and months of speeches, sound bites and debates, I still have no idea what Hillary Clinton wants to do as President.  What I hear Mrs. Clinton say is that she wants to be President and that she is ready to lead.  But she has not convinced me (nor the Iowa voters) why that is.

There were a few odd moments in her "concession" speech in Iowa.  The first was when she said "we are going to have change and that change will be a Democratic President in the White House in 2009."  While I believe what she said is true, it seems like she was allowing herself to believe that she might not be the one who comes out on top. 

The second odd moment follows up with the change theme.  She said America needs a new beginning.  It's hard to believe that she will bring that new beginning with Bill Clinton and Madalyn Albright standing behind her.  That's not the type of change Americans are looking for.

Hillary Clinton doesn't come across well on television, she never has. I'm reminded of Richard Nixon in his 1960 T.V. debates vs. John F. Kennedy. Both Obama and Edwards appear fresh and energetic and while Mrs. Clinton comes off as cold and calculated.

But I come back to the question: What is her message? If she's banking on becoming the change candidate, I'd have to say Hillary Clinton's campaign will be bankrupt in short order.

John Edwards

I've really been impressed by John Edwards over the last few months. The timing of his two Presidential runs has been unfortunate. Four years ago he just wasn't ready, and now he is trapped behind the star power of Barack, Bill, and Hill.

Edwards came out swinging after his 2nd place finish in Iowa, and he has focused his message on Clinton. His strategy seems to be to hang around till the end and wait for Obama to falter late.

Edwards' message of taking on special interests and advocating on behalf of the working poor has substance and went over well with Populists in Iowa. That message is not reaching the Libertarian voters in New Hampshire. Polls show Edwards is running a distant third on the eve of the state's Democratic Primary.

With Obama (and Oprah) already setting their sites on Edwards' neighboring South Carolina, one has to wonder if there is a state that the former senator can actually win.

Barack Obama

Riding high after his 8 point win in Iowa and his victory speech that followed, Obama has received the traditional "bounce" following the caucuses. Polls showed Obama and Clinton in a deadlock over the weekend, but the latest numbers have Obama with a double digit lead in New Hampshire.

The junior senator from Illinois has shown an amazing ability to inspire Americans in recent months. This gift was first brought to our attention in his rousing speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His speech announcing his candidacy for President was an American classic, based on all that this country wishes itself to be.

And then there was last Thursday. In his 13 minute victory talk in Iowa, Obama eloquently connected The Boston Tea Party, World War II and the Civil Rights Movement. 

As an early opponent of the Iraq War, an advocate for expanded health care, and a man committed to bringing Americans together Obama is connecting with the mood of the country. At one time I thought George W. may be the one "reaching across the aisle" as he did in Texas, but that never happened in Washington. 

The Clinton's play to win and are fighting for their political legacy, so expect increased attacks on the front runner's record and a call to the media to ask him tougher questions. Obama has givien Americans the opportunity to focus on what we like about ourselves and what we hope for our futures rather than having to constantly examine our fears and the philosophical differences among fellow citizens.


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