Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Obama and Hillary on Edwards: Both gracious, one masterful.

With John Edwards dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president, the two remaining candidates are both reaching out to Edwards supporters on their websites. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lead with gracious nods to John and Elizabeth and to the issues and causes that they championed in the campaign.

As an Edwards supporter, I appreciate both statements. But it is Barack's statement that gets my vote. Here's why:

Hillary' statement is in her prosaic voice:
John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it - by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate.

John ran with compassion and conviction and lifted this campaign with his deep concern for the daily lives of the American people. That is what this election is about - it's about our people. And John is one of the greatest champions the American people could ask for.

I wish John and Elizabeth all the best. They have my great personal respect and gratitude. And I know they will continue to fight passionately for the country and the people they love so deeply.
It praises John, identifies with his issues, and wishes John and Elizabeth well. By the numbers.

Now read Barack's statement. It is a much more savvy embrace of the tonality and history of the Edwards campaign.
John Edwards has spent a lifetime fighting to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the struggling, even when it wasn’t popular to do or covered in the news. At a time when our politics is too focused on who’s up and who’s down, he made a nation focus again on who matters – the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington. John and Elizabeth Edwards have always believed deeply that we can change this – that two Americas can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose. So while his campaign may end today, the cause of their lives endures for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America.
In the opening sentence Obama acknowledges that the media largely kept John in shadow and silence. He chides the media for horserace coverage rather than issues and causes. He personalizes abstract issues with examples in the way that Edwards did in his stump speeches. He then uses his own campaign lexicon of "believe" and "change" to embrace the Edwards quest. And he closes by embracing Edwards key phrases "cause of my life," and "one America."

Graphically, Obama's site has absorbed Elizabeth and John into its own design language, while Clinton has posted a news photo.

The Hillary statement feels obligatory. The Barack statement feels like John's voice is still heard.

Mickeleh's Take: Regardless of whether John Edwards chooses to endorse either of the remaining candidates, Obama has already endorsed Edwards issues and embraced his supporters.

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