SPENCER, IA.— Question for Monday: how will Barack Obama handle John Edwards showing strength—a stream of media attention finally and the cover of Newsweek with the headline “Sleeper.” An endorsement from the wife of the Iowa governor today.
Answer, as of 10:27 a.m. central time is that Obama is getting tougher against Edwards. Talking about the problem with “special interests,” Obama, speaking in the auditorium at Spencer High School, said, “everybody now in the campaign talks about how I am going to fight for you."
“Like Senator Edwards who is a good guy, he's been talking a lot about I am going to fight the lobbyists and the special interests in Washington. Well the question you have to ask is were you fighting for 'em when you were in the Senate? What did you do? Because I did something, immediately upon arriving in the Senate..."
A debate between the accomplishments of two one-term senators up against Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her second term, may head them both into choppy waters, especially if it gets done to more routine nitty gritty—but very important—business.
During this past year when Obama has been running for president, Illinois issues have not been on his front burner. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the number two man in the Senate has been doing the heavy Illinois lifting. Durbin and Obama are personally close and Durbin urged him to make the run. While Obama has scored earmarks, everybody in Illinois knows to go to Durbin if they need help with a federal matter because Obama is in the midst of this presidential primary.
Clinton, not having the same I’ll watch your back relationship with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has had to make sure her New York bases were covered this past year. She features some constituents plugging her in a new package of video on a new website www. The Hillary I Know .
Clinton was on six morning shows, a feat that from now on will be called “The Full Hillary” for any newsmaker who can muster the muscle to match.
She was playing a lot of defense, pressed with questions following up on Bill Clinton’s interview with Charlie Rose where he said a vote for Obama was rolling the dice. I’m told there is a split in the Clinton campaign over whether or not Bill Clinton helps or hurts in his going after Obama.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” Chris Cuomo asked if she agreed with the rolling the dice comment her husband made.
“Well, I'm very proud to have Bill's help in this campaign. He is working really hard, he's providing a lot of energy as he goes around the country on my behalf. But this campaign is about me and my ideas,” she said.
“It's about what I bring to the table, what I will do as president. That's the point that the Des Moines Register made in their editorial. And they really put us through their paces. We had grueling interviews, we answered lots of questions, they saw all of the candidates. And at the end of it, they concluded that America needs a leader who can start on day one to do what we have to do here at home and around the world, and they said I was that leader.
“So, I think that's the tone and the tenor of the campaign. It's certainly what I see and feel as I travel around Iowa on our 99-county blitz.”
Over at NBC’s “The Today Show” David Gregory asked if Bill Clinton is a distraction at this point.
Clinton said “No, it really hasn't, because there is, you know, no basis to it. I know that in a campaign people have lots of advice and opinions, and I welcome that. But it's my campaign, just like it will be my presidency, as it was when he ran and when he was president. And what I do every day is make the best decisions that I can make, taking a lot of good ideas that people give me.
“I'm very happy with my campaign. I think we have a great team, and they're doing tremendous work. And I think that we're going to do quite well. And what I don't do is get distracted by, frankly, you know, all the horse race, who's up, who's down. You know, I really have never paid much attention to that. I'm not going to start now. I don't think that's the way a leader tries to lead.
I think you set a course. You make adjustments if they're necessary. But you don't get knocked off course just because people are talking about it. My view is I have a big job to do. This country deserves a leader who will make the changes that we need, and I intend to be that leader.”
Will turnout be higher when Iowa Democrats caucus on Jan. 3?
The campaigns are expecting more than the 124,000 who showed up in 2004. At the high school here, dozens of people just stood up when asked if they were going to caucus for the first time.