There it stood, in the center of of a convention hall at the Polk County Convention Complex. A massive tour bus, emblazoned with the slogan for John Edwards's final message iteration: "American belongs to us."
The theme to that slogan is "America rising." Positive. Crisp. Easily remembered thanks to a Bruce Springsteen song.
For the next eight days, Edwards and his entourage will brave the icy highways, traveling to medium-sized cities and small rural hamlets.
Edwards began his final stump speech with a joke about Hillary Clinton and the "silliness" of the end-of-year campaigning.
Then he said: "You are the guardians of what kind of human beings we'll have as the next president of the United States."
"We must," Edwards said later, "have a president of the United States who can restore trust between the American people and the president."
Here Edwards is reaching out to those Obama supporters who are inclined to choose Edwards second -- trust and accountability are the central organizing principles of the final, final stump speech Edwards will give.
Toward the end, he said: "Are we going to be looking for careful political calculation, or are we going to be looking for bold, strong leadership for the United States?"
He finished speaking, and the crowd, mostly inorganic, mostly uniformed union members, cheered.
And the bus rolled off stage left. And then somehow, it made it to the street level, one floor below.
Marc Ambinder is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.