I leave it up to my American friends to argue over who is best suited to win back the White House for sanity. But as a campaigner, I was struck by how the speeches by Obama, Edwards and Hillary after the Iowa vote summed up their campaigns. As a lesson on campaigning - on choosing messages and repeating them over and over - all candidates scored high marks. So, Hillary focussed on the long haul, on experience (a message which was reinforced by her being surrounded by Clinton "old timers" - including Bill but also Madleine Albright, who I had not really pictured to be the campaign trail kind a girl, but hey ...). Hillary kept her smile firmly in place and tried to exude confidence. Given how gutted she probably felt I would give her full marks for composure. Edwards, meanwhile, was surrounded by a very different bunch of people (than the Ex Secretary of State). He was surrounded by the working poor and people without health care. He made a lot of how Iowa had voted against the status quo. In that status quo he tried to include Hillary, making the most of being the underdog who had beaten her despite having been hugely outspent. Almost immediately, he moved back to the message he is running for: the need for universal health care, the needs of working families, the values of a "working America" that he tries to evoke and represent. I personally liked how he contrasted those values with "corporate greed"... Obama, finally, stuck to his message of unity and hope. His speech was probably the cleverest. On a night when the Republicans backed an evangelical christian, he somehow managed to make plausible, that Iowa had voted for national unity. He evoked the civil rights movement and stressed his background as a grassroots social worker. He eloquently talked of the power of ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. All this will have gone down well with the Democratic activist base, I imagine. But the overall message was one of unity and patriotism. Of history being in the making - and him being the vessel of America's new, united, strong, moral age. As a self-confessed lefty, this unity talk worries me. Reality is: people have different interests - and they do clash. But as a political observer, you got to be impressed with how Obama pulls off sounding the most resoundingly American of all candidates - even though he is untypical - even for African-Americans! He got the votes of Independents and has attracted sympthies even of Republicans. So this unity message, more than anything, makes him the man to watch! P.S. A very interesting blog piece on Edwards and Obama here.