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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


The Big Three election-night speeches on the Democratic side in NH were different from those in IA in that at least the losers acknowledged defeat. And they were obviously very different from each other.
Edwards’ speech was notable in that he not only promised to stay in the race until the convention (which in the end not even Dennis Kucinich did in 2004), but also pretty much dismissed the early states as unrepresentative and/or statistically insignificant. I understand why he said that (four times, by my count), but I’m sure it didn’t go over well among all those Iowans that Edwards spent the last four years courting so relentlessly. Edwards was smart, though, to avoid making any specific state his comeback target, since his native state of SC isn’t looking very good. Beyond his pledge to keep going, his speech was almost identical to the one on Caucus Night in Iowa. If Edwards loses in the end, it won’t be because he didn’t get his message out.
Obama’s speech is generally getting reviewed as the best of the night, crisply delivered, gracious to HRC (even running the risk of asking for a round of applause for her), upbeat, and a more succinct version of his stump speech than the one he offered in Iowa. He did hit a few more explicitly progressive licks as well.
HRC’s speech started out very effectively, with her “my heart is full” and “found my own voice” lines. In sharp contrast to Iowa, where she stood in the midst of a very old and very dispirited crowd of national and local politicians, she was accompanied only by her family members, in a large, young and enthusiastic audience. (BTW, the change in style from the well-oiled professional Clinton machine extended to her staff; those I saw on the tube all looked impressively scruffy). The bulk of the speech was largely forgettable (though she, like Obama, threw in some sharp populist notes), and was apparently written on notes she had to keep looking down to read, but in the end, the results were sufficiently eloquent for her purposes.
I didn’t pay much attention to the Republicans tonight, and will have more to say about them tomorrow. But I did catch much of McCain’s victory speech, which was, well, pretty bad. Looking down much of the time, McCain kept losing his place and stumbling over words, and generally suggesting an old gent who was up past his bedtime. Given the drama of his comeback, which has been the single most remarkable development in the whole presidential race until now, it was a singularly underwhelming moment.

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