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Pollsters are still scratching their heads at the results of the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses. But, Las Vegas odds-makers got it right in Iowa, exactly right. We'll see how their predictions pan out Saturday, January 19 when Nevada voters take to the polls.
We saw the candidates morph and re-invent themselves before our very eyes, all because of a simple mantra - change. Sen. Hillary Clinton changed campaign signage from "Experienced" to "Ready," all to keep up with Obama's apparently successful slogan. But, even he added, "Yes, We Can!"
In any race for an open seat, or one against a long-term incumbant, the chant is always "change" (from the status quo). So, how is Obama's message of "change" different?
If it's charisma and believe-ability, Sen. Clinton is certainly now a quick study. She picked up on this almost immediately during the ABC pre-New Hampshire caucus debate, "One Party - Two Nights."
When asked about polls which stated that she had "like-ability" problems, she demurely replied that her "feelings were hurt." This was definitely a lightbulb moment for the Senator and may be the turning point in her campaign strategy. The next day, during a campaign rally, Hillary had tearful eyes when asked by a New Hampshire woman how she got through her day. The sometimes stiff, seldom smiling politician is learning to be charismatic, and not a moment too soon.
"Change" was also mentioned among the GOP candidates. Mitt Romney admitted that he changed his position from pro-choice to pro-life while Governor Mike Huckabee, the Iowa winner was questioned about his criticism of the Bush administration's decisions on Iraq, calling it an "arrogant bunker mentality." Romney said that "...we need to use our military and non-military resources...so the Muslims are able to reject the extremists."
Another aspect of change came when in a surprise move, the Democratic choice for 2004 President, John Kerry threw his support to Obama. Although Kerry has political ties to the Clintons, and Edwards was his former running mate, Kerry said that Obama "brings the lessons of the neighborhood, the lessons of the Legislature and the lessons of his own ..." He also described Obama as a "transformational leader" when "leadership requires an ability to inspire" during a time when America "is ready to move in a different direction."
The Iowa Debate
The debate with the Republican candidates preceded a second separate debate with the Democrat contenders.
There was a striking difference between the two on main debate topics. The Republicans addressed immigration while the Democrats focused on healthcare.
Nearly all of the Republican candidates cited President Ronald Reagan as their hero, but Libertarian-turned-Republican Ron Paul was quick to mention that during Reagan's presidency, there was a blanket amnesty program for illegal aliens.
The issue of immigration will play more prominently with the Democrats as the candidates look to the southern border states for votes, especially the larger states of California (441 delegates/February 5 primary) and Texas (228 delegates/March 4 primary).
Ron Paul stated that America should not be "the police of the world. The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war is not a minor change, this is huge. This was the first time we as a nation accept as our policy that we start the wars. ... They don't attack us because we are free and prosperous.... But because we invade and occupy their countries..."