Obama's Closing Argument: He's Superman, Baby.

Location: a parishioner's room at a methodist church in Indianola, Iowa.

Crowd size
: about 500, with some overflow.

Press contingent: 25 members of the traveling press corps and about 20 walk-ups.

Celebrity guest
: Superman... Brandon Routh.

Length of speech: about 50 minutes.

Applause lines: 14

Standing ovations: there were no chairs.

Interesting lines:

"I have experienced rooted in the real lives of people."

"I don't need lectures on how to bring about change because I've been doing it all my life."

"I don't want to pit red America against blue America; I want to lead the United States of America."

"I am the only Democratic candidate who is beating every single one of them...Fred, Mitt, Mike, Rudy, John... I beat them all."

"This is not just an argument about the meaning of change; it's an argument about the meaning of hope."

"We ran a positive campaign. We rejected the politics of slash-and-burn."


First impression: For thirty minutes, Obama argues. He defends. defends the rational for his campaign, he defends, his defends his decision to run, his defends his view of change, the way he's run his campaign. He rebuts. He blanches. He scrunches his eyes in mock annoyance. He's sardonic. For thirty minutes, the first thirty minutes, he answers two questions: why he is running and why what his opponents say about him is just plain silly. The second question intrudes on the first. Moments turn into minutes. Obama complains about what his opponents - -other Democrats -- allegedly say about him -- and the crowd is silent.

The second half of the speech is a revelation.

Obama borrows the best lines from his inaugural campaign speech in Illinois and the best red meat from his sensational Jefferson-Jackson day speech. He's hopeful, tender, and spot on. He weaves history with message; he wakes up the crowd and ends strongly.

There is less criticism of John Edwards than you might think after reading news coverage about his recent speeches; his references to a 527 group operating on Edwards's behalf are fleeting, unspecific, and probably inconsequential. Probably, Obama feels compelled to point this out -- probably, the audience has no idea what he is talking about because there's been so little coverage of the issue in the local press.

I've put together a representative five minutes of his speech... sorry for the jumpy video.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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