Iowa

As Sanders Draws 10,000 in Wisconsin, Support for ‘Revolution’ Doubles in Iowa

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 1, 2015. The senator and presidential candidate spelled out to the capacity crowd he would attempt to reverse the 40-year decline of the middle class and narrow the wealth and income gap that is greater today in the United States than at any time since before the Great Depression. (Photo: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg)

COMMON DREAMS

Speaking to largest crowd any campaign for president has yet seen, the field’s most progressive candidate says “a grassroots movement of millions of people” must overcome power of “handful of wealthy campaign contributors.”

A crowd of approximately 10,000 people filled a sports arena to capacity in Wisconsin on Wednesday night in order to hear the person who has called for a “political revolution” in the United States explain why he should be the next president.

“Tonight we have made a little bit of history,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to those inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison. “Tonight we have more people at a meeting for a candidate for president of the United States than any other candidate has had in 2015.”

Such turnouts are becoming a trend for the candidate who has stepped forth from the left side of the political spectrum to challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination. As MSNBC notes, Sanders has been attracting outsize crowds nearly everywhere he goes recently: “Five thousand came out for his kickoff rally in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont. Another 5,000 turned out in Denver, Colorado. In Minneapolis, a thousand listened from outside after the basketball arena where Sanders was speaking filled to capacity.”

Wednesday’s enormous turnout also arrives with good news for Sanders out of the key early-voting state of Iowa, where a new Quinnipiac poll released on Thursday morning shows his campaign continuing to close the gap with frontrunner Clinton. According to the survey, Sanders is now is receiving support from 33 percent of likely Democratic caucus participants compared to Clinton’s 55 percent. That distance is remarkably smaller now than it was in early May when Clinton enjoyed a 45-percentage point advantage.

“Sen. Sanders has more than doubled his showing and at 33 percent he certainly can’t be ignored, especially with seven months until the actual voting,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Which is at least partly why the size of turnouts like one in Madison and elsewhere do matter for the Sanders campaign. “This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It is not about Hillary Clinton or anybody else. It is about you,” the candidate told the crowd. “It is about putting together a grassroots movement of millions of people to make sure the government works for all of us and not a handful of wealthy campaign contributors.”

In his overall remarks, Sanders spelled out his policy prescriptions, which aim to reverse the 40-year decline of the middle class and narrow the wealth and income gap that is greater today in the United States, he said, than at any time since before the Great Depression.

As the local Capitol Times newspaper reports:

Over the course of an hour-long speech, the crowd roared and crowed in approval of the Vermont senator’s remarks, waving blue and white “Bernie 2016” signs and chanting “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!”

Sanders’ speech, which focused heavily on income inequality, ran the gamut of a progressive wish list, from two weeks of guaranteed paid vacation time for every worker in America to free tuition for students at public colleges and universities, presenting a strong front against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreementand overturning Citizens United.

He also made spoke briefly about race (“Our job is to make sure that young African-Americans can walk down the street without being abused – or worse.”) and moving to a single-payer healthcare system (“In America, health care must be a right for all of our people.”).

And the energy and enthusiasm around Sanders and his message appears to be spreading.

“We have the rule of half that we teach our organizers: if 20 people say they’re going to show up, it’ll be 10,” said Pete D’Alessandro, the state coordinator for Sanders’ Iowa operation, to Time magazine this week. “But at Sen. Sanders’ events, we’ve been consistently over 100% of our RSVPs. Until it doesn’t happen, we feel confident our turnout is going to be higher.”

And, reporting from the rally in Madison, MSNBC added:

But by attracting massive crowds, Sanders can build a movement around him and present the impression of momentum as he campaigns for wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, and beyond.

The giant rallies also offer a fundraising opportunity for Sanders, whose staffers collected names of attendees as they entered the arena. His campaign says he’s attracted 200,000 donors so far, most of them small, and will need a to keep firing up a national donor base to fuel his campaign.

“I’ve been frustrated for the last several years and he’s like a lone wolf out there for people with no voice,” said Todd Osborne of Madison.

Erika Hanson said too many Democrats, including Clinton, too often to do the bidding of corporations. “As far as I’m concerned he’s the only person who cares about the middle class,” she said.

Jon Queally, staff writer

GOP Summit—The Good, The Bad And The Absolutely Crazy

Half-Term Governor of Alaska: Sarah Palin | Jim Young/Reuters

 The Daily Beast

GOP presidential contenders flocked to Iowa on Saturday to try out their pitches on the unofficial beginning of the Iowa Caucus. Hint: Sarah Palin has lost her mind.
You’re going to read a lot of analysis of this weekend’s Freedom Summit as the unofficial beginning of the Iowa caucus.Whether that’s true depends entirely on how many of those who attended are still standing one long year from now—and how many of those who didn’t attend (Jeb Bush, Rand Paul) have campaigns that are still alive and well.The event does serve as a gauge for a candidate’s willingness to pander, and it is the beginning of serious media scrutiny for all the candidates as 2016 candidates,not as quaint spectacles (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) or interesting anomalies (Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina)…. or familiar former presidential candidates, who made up a non-shocking majority of the featured speakers (Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin).

What did we learn?

Palin is past her sell-by date.

It’s the unofficial policy of many serious political reporters (myself included) to not cover Palin speeches.  So it’s entirely possible I missed a key stretch of her decline that would help make sense of, or have prepared me for, the word-salad-with-a-cup-of-moose-stew that she presented.

Sample passage: “Things must change for our government! It isn’t too big to fail, it’s too big to succeed! It’s too big to succeed, so we can afford no retreads or nothing will change, with the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo! Another Latin word, status quo, and it stands for, ‘Man, the middle class and everyday Americans are really gettin’ taken for a ride.’”

The speech (perhaps a generous description) went on 15 minutes past the 20 minutes allotted other speakers. And even as she ended it, one sensed less a crescendo than the specter of a gong, a hook to pull her off, or—a sincere thought I had—an ambulance to take her… somewhere.

No one else embarrassed themselves out of the race.

The event was organized by immigration hawk Rep. Steve “Cantaloupes” King (with the help of Citizens United) and many pundits fretted (or eagerly anticipated) 47-percent-style gaffes in the service of speakers trying to out-xenophobe each other. I may have missed something, but the anti-immigration rhetoric stayed on the “self-deport” side of offensive. Santorum did some under-the-breath dog whistling in reference to legal immigration, positing that the U.S. is home to more non-native citizens than ever before. He contrasted those non-native-born workers to, ahem, “American workers.” As far as I know, if you work in America, you are an “American worker.” Unless Santorum is thinking of something else.

The soft bigotry of low expectation works!

Scott Walker continues to clear the “not Tim Pawlenty” bar, but no one seems to realize how weak of a standard that is. National journalists cooed over Walker’s relatively energetic speech, apparently forgetting they were comparing it to other Walker speeches. In a similar vein, Chris Christie did not intentionally piss anyone off or bully the audience. Christie gave what seemed a lot like a national-audience speech—probably the only speaker that played it so safe.

Sen. Mike Lee gave some sensible, serious suggestions.

I may be engaging in more expectation management, but I was pleasantly surprised by Lee’s earnest and non-applause-line-ridden speech. He beseeched the audience to look for a candidate that was “positive, principled, and proven”—all while explicitly taking himself out of the running. In what could have been a direct jab at his fellow guests, he quipped, “The principled candidate is not necessarily the guy who yells ‘Freedom!’ the loudest.” He could have been quoting Elizabeth Warren when he softened typical GOP bootstrap rhetoric: “Freedom doesn’t mean ‘You’re all on your own,’” he said, “It means, ‘We’re all in it together.’” Elizabeth Warren would approve.

The GOP is going to need to figure out how to run against someone who is not Obama.

Even Lee, who gave what might be the most forward-looking speech, hung many of his arguments on the framework of undoing what Obama has done. Every other speaker followed suit, and some of the night’s biggest applause lines had to do with the same “fake scandals” that already proved insufficiently interesting to the American people: Benghazi, with a dash of IRS. They speak of repealing Obamacare with the zest of people who think of the House’s own fifty-plus attempts as mere warm-ups. Even their foreign policy script has Obama and the specter of American decline as its primary villains—foes that have defeated them twice before.

The Republican Party’s problem with black people

The Republican Party mascot in front of the Starlite Ballroom at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Washington Post – Jonathan Capehart

Overall, I agree with Ron Christie’s argument in the Daily Beast on “how to really empower black voters nationwide.” The former special assistant to President George W. Bush and deputy assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney says, “Republicans need a positive message for people of color, and they need to state that message clearly, and with conviction.” The Republican strategist, who is African American, writes, “Republicans need to expand who they are talking to in communities of color.” Both are very true. But the GOP suffers a bit from denial and has a self-reinforcing image problem that makes it seem inhospitable to people of color, which is something that comes through in the fourth paragraph of Christie’s column.

It jumps off the excellent story last week by Nate Cohn on the potentialpower of the Southern black vote in keeping the Democrats in control of the Senate. “Now we need to see the power of the black vote expand nationwide,” Christie writes, “which will only happen when Republicans and Democrats alike are forced to fight for their support.” And then he adds:

Given that roughly 90 percent of blacks are committed supporters of the Democratic Party, I suspect they will take this voting bloc for granted by promising more government support and handouts — belittling blacks by assuming that a majority of us are interested in “free” stuff from the government. I also assume that they’ll continue pushing the canard that the Republican push for voter ID laws is an attempt to disenfranchise black voters.

Voter identification laws as an attempt to disenfranchise black voters is hardly a canard. Plenty of Republicans, elected and unelected, are on record admitting it. Colin Powell went so far as to take his party to task over its fevered claims of voter fraud. “You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud,” the former secretary of state said last year in North Carolina. “How can it be widespread and undetected?” Indeed, how can it?

As for belittling blacks, the Republican insistence on peddling makers-vs.-takers nonsense to deny that there are people in this country in need of assistance is a prime example of said condescension. Surely, the GOP must see that it shoots itself in the foot with every utterance of “free stuff.” Good luck getting a look-see from folks loudly branded as moochers by the same people asking to be taken seriously. And let’s be clear: Free stuff is the food sample the folks at Costco hand you, not the food stamps that keep families from going hungry.

A combination photo shows Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel (L) attending a rally in Madison, Mississippi and Republican U.S. Senator ThadCochran campaigning in Pass Christian, Mississippi June 19, 2014. (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)
Tea party candidate Chris McDaniel, left, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)

No sooner did Christie slam “free stuff” than he praised a Republican who saved his seat by highlighting his ability to get “free stuff” from Washington. Christie praised Sen. Thad Cochran’s successful run-off against challenger Chris McDaniel as a model for “how to effectively bring black voters to the polls.” The five-term senator from Mississippi won, Christie insists, “because Cochran did what many Republicans seem reluctant to do: Ask for the support of black voters, and make a real, substantive argument for that support.”

Yes, that is true. But in asking, Cochran did something else. According to a Jackson Free Press story last month, “Cochran tout[ed] his support for historically black colleges and universities, the Jackson Medical Mall and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps.” One man’s “bring home the bacon” is another man’s “free stuff.” Christie doesn’t try to explain how Cochran’s actions didn’t belittle blacks.

Like I said, Christie makes a good point. Democrats and Republicans should actively compete for the African American vote. And there is no denying that he is correct in his assessment that Democrats take black voters for granted. But Republicans make that oh so easy when their condescension, racially tinged rhetoric and questionable policies make them an unworthy alternative.

White Anti-Gay Activist Wins Election After Pretending To Be Black

Dave Wilson: not black

Dave Wilson: not black

This is wrong on so many levels…

Think Progress

An electrician best known for mailing homophobic fliers to thousands of Houston voters attacking the city’s lesbian mayor narrowly won an election to the Houston Community College Board of Trustees after he misled voters into believing that he is African American. Dave Wilson defeated longtime incumbent Bruce Austin, who actually is black, in an overwhelmingly African American district.

Wilson’s campaign fliers were filled with black faces that he admits to simply pulling off of websites, along with captions such as “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.” Another flier announces that he was “Endorsed by Ron Wilson,” which is the name of an African American former state representative. Only by reading the fine print will voters discover that the “Ron Wilson” who actually endorsed Dave is his cousin. The cousin lives in Iowa.

In an interview with a local TV station, the anti-gay activist turned higher education policymaker did not deny that he intended to mislead the electorate, instead justifying his actions by claiming that “[e]very time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters.”

It’s worth noting that Wilson was likely able to get within striking range of a 24-year incumbent member of the board due to a wave of scandals involving insider dealing by board members. Nevertheless, he defeated the incumbent Austin by just 26 votes, so it is likely that Wilson’s deceptive campaign tactics helped push him over the edge to victory.

The Houston Community College Board of Trustees governs the college and has the power to approve the school’s “educational program.” Previously, Wilson unsuccessfully tried to scuttle the campaign of victorious Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker by mailing a flier to 35,000 voters featuring a picture of Parker standing by her same-sex partner and the caption “IS THIS THE IMAGE HOUSTON WANTS TO PORTRAY?”

wilson-mailer

Parker told a local news station that he opposed Parker because “[t]he openly gay lifestyle leads to extinction.”

Iowa grants gun permits to the blind

GAN BLIND GUN PERMITS 090613 2

Cedar County (Iowa) Sheriff Warren Wethington has been teaching his daughter, Bethany, to use firearms. A brain tumor left Bethany, 18, partially blind, but he believes that once she becomes of legal age to purchase firearms, she should not be excluded from her second amendment rights.
(Photo: Bryon Houlgrave, The Des Moines Register)

No, this is not an article from the onion.  What are they thinking?

USA Today

Here’s some news that has law enforcement officials and lawmakers scratching their heads:

Iowa is granting permits to acquire or carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind.

No one questions the legality of the permits. State law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability.

The quandary centers squarely on public safety. Advocates for the disabled and Iowa law enforcement officers disagree over whether it’s a good idea for visually disabled Iowans to have weapons.

On one side: People such as Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who demonstrated for The Des Moines Register how blind people can be taught to shoot guns. And Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, who says blocking visually impaired people from the right to obtain weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities

On the other side: People such as Dubuque County Sheriff Don Vrotsos, who said he wouldn’t issue a permit to someone who is blind. And Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, who says guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy that blind people can participate fully in life.

Private gun ownership — even hunting — by visually impaired Iowans is nothing new. But the practice of visually impaired residents legally carrying firearms in public became widely possible thanks to gun permit changes that took effect in Iowa in 2011.

“It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads we can’t deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing,” said Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, referring to a visual disability.

Polk County officials say they’ve issued weapons permits to at least three people who can’t legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so because of visual impairments.

And sheriffs in three other counties — Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware — say they have granted permits to residents who they believe have severe visual impairments.

“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere said. “At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.”

Training the Visually Impaired and more…

 

House Republican ready to ‘defund the EPA’

H/t: Maddow commenter #1:

When House Republicans gather …Remind you of anything?

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

The Maddow Blog

 

And when it comes to “calling out” climate deniers, congressional Republicans are certainly giving progressives plenty to work with lately. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), the vice chair of the House Science Committee, argued last week that “global warming is a total fraud” created by those who want “global government to control all of our lives.” A few days prior, Rep.Steve King (R-Iowa) described the entirety of climate science as “more of a religion than a science.”

And then there’s Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), who made these startling comments at a forum in his local district this week. (Thanks to James Carter for the heads-up.)

 

In this unnerving clip, Miller argues in a room full of people, “This whole Al Gore thing of climate change unfortunately is not doing this nation any good.”

And while you might be thing, “Well, no, of course climate change isn’t doing the nation any good,” in context, Miller meant worrying about climate change is a bad idea.

Wait, it gets worse.

The right-wing congressman went on to say, “I will defund the EPA.” When Miller was asked about warnings from the Navy about the national security threat posed by the climate crisis, one of his constituents shouted, “The admirals are idiots!” The congressman proceeded to explain why he has no use for the Navy’s judgment, and says he has his own scientists who tell him what he wants to hear, and just “a few years ago,” some wacky scientists warned we’d “all be ice cubes.”

Miller concluded, “Our climate will continue to change because of the way God formed the earth.”

Miller is a 10-year veteran of Congress who currently serves as the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Rand Paul: Benghazi should preclude Hillary Clinton from higher office

Image:

Sen. Rand Paul Delivers Immigration Address Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce Conference

The most likely character to oppose Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in 2016, Sen. Ron Paul, claims she shouldn’t run because of Benghazi.  It’s Amazing just how dense those guys really are.  Hillary hasn’t even announced that she’s running at all, but they’re so afraid of her supposed momentum from both Democratic and Republican women voters, that they are trying to stop her before any announcement.

MSNBC

If Rand Paul sees himself as the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, it’s clear he’s prepping for Hillary Clinton to be his Democratic opponent.

A full three and a half years out from the next presidential election, the Kentucky senator spoke before the Iowa Republican Party Friday night in a speech that rivaled a campaign rally. He latched onto the GOP’s latest rallying cry against the Obama administration’s handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead last September, to focus his criticism on the former secretary of state.

“First question to Hillary Clinton: Where in the hell were the Marines?” he asked.

This week saw a resurgence in the GOP-led crusade to surface what some in the party have called a massive “cover-up.” Their efforts were already successful in blocking Obama’s hand-picked nominee to succeed Clinton at the State Department, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, leaving Clinton herself as next-in-line to be cast with blame.

“It was inexcusable, it was a dereliction of duty, and it should preclude her from holding higher office,” Paul said.

Paul was coy in expounding on his presidential ambitions, telling reporters Friday that while he had not ruled out gunning for the party’s nomination, he would not make a decision until 2014. Clinton has largely avoided addressing 2016 chatter, though a number of polls matching her up with an array of hypothetical opponents show Americans see her as a favorite to lead the Democrats in the next election cycle.

The roughly 500 attendees at the state GOP’s annual Lincoln Dinner seemed keenly aware of Iowa’s electoral influence in the early presidential landscape. “The process of selecting the next leader of the free world begins in Iowa, and it’s already begun,” GOP Rep. Steve King said earlier in the evening.

Paul, who joined the theme of Obamacare-bashing seen throughout the annual event, said that after the Republican loss in the last election—largely due to lacking appeal with minority voters—the party needed to adjust how it treated Hispanic voters and work toward a deal on immigration reform.

“We have to change the way we’re talking about it and who we are if we want attract the Latino vote,” he said.

“If kids think we’re hostile toward them, they’ll never vote,” he added of appealing to young people. ”We’re an increasingly diverse nation, and I think we do need to reach out to other people that aren’t like us, don’t look like us, don’t wear the same clothes, that aren’t exactly who we are. We’re going to have to do something.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Attacks Sasha And Malia Obama

Why are some GOP Congressmen and Senators such cowards?

Think Progress

This week, Breitbart News broke a long-standing security protocol and published a story detailing the precise location where President Obama’s daughters are vacationing this week. On Wednesday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) used the report to attack the First Daughters for taking a vacation.

King’s comments came during an appearance on Mickelson in the Morning, an Iowa-based radio show. A caller, Carla, brought up sequestration and proceeded to criticize the Michelle Obama and her daughters for taking a vacation in the Bahamas. King agreed — “Carla, you’re on point and on the mark all the way through” — before criticizing them for also taking a vacation last year in Mexico. “That was at our expense, too,” King bemoaned.

CALLER: When I see the First Lady and the beautiful girls going off to the Bahamas waving goodbye to us, it’s really hard to stomach. When we’re tightening our belts, either all of us should do it or none of us should do it. This, I am pretty tolerant, I always have been, I usually shut my mouth. This is not acceptable.

KING: Carla, you’re on point and on the mark all the way through. […] You’re right on the president. He needs to show some austerity himself. Instead he wanted to tell America how bad it was going to be. […] We’ve got the president doing these things. He sent the daughters to spring break in Mexico a year ago. That was at our expense, too. And now to the Bahamas at one of the most expensive places there. That is the wrong image to be coming out of the White House.

Listen to it:

This notion that the Obamas are living a life of excess is beginning to take hold among conservative members of Congress. At the CPAC conference earlier this month, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) smeared Obama for enjoying “the perks and the excess of the $1.4 billion presidency,” a charge that “fail[s] on the facts in simple fairness,” according to CNN.

King is strongly considering running for Iowa’s open Senate seat in 2014. His potential candidacy is already causing consternation among establishment Republicans who worry that he will be a Todd Akin-redux, appealing only to far-right conservatives and turning off everyone else.

N.R.A. DEFENDS RIGHT TO OWN POLITICIANS (Andy Borowitz)

lapierre-nra-boro.jpg

The New Yorker

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, National Rifle Association C.E.O. Wayne LaPierre warned that the N.R.A. would vigorously oppose any legislation that “limits the sale, purchase, or ownership of politicians.”

“Politicians pose no danger to the public if used correctly,” said Mr. LaPierre, who claims to have over two hundred politicians in his personal collection. “Everyone hears about the bad guys in Congress. Well, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a vote is a good guy with a vote. I’m proud to be the owner of many of those guys.”

Mr. LaPierre’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from Carol Foyler, a politician-control advocate who has spent the past twelve years lobbying for stricter limits on the sale of politicians.

“Right now, a man like Wayne LaPierre can walk right into Congress and buy any politician he wants,” she said. “There’s no background check, no waiting period. And so hundreds of politicians are falling into the hands of people who are unstable and, quite frankly, dangerous.”

In addition to limiting the sale of politicians, Ms. Foyler said, it is time for society to take a look at the “sheer number” of politicians in the U.S.: “There’s no doubt that we would be safer if there were fewer of them.”

For his part, the N.R.A. leader ended his testimony by serving notice that he would “resist any attempt” to take away the hundreds of elected officials he says are legally his.

As if to illustrate that point, he clutched Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) close to his chest and bellowed, “From my cold, dead hands.”

Obama, Tearful, Finishes Campaign In Iowa, Where It Started

This was President Obama’s last campaign speech ever

(Start at 12:00 point to see the president’s speech.)

The Huffington Post

As sentimentality goes, President Barack Obama hosting the last campaign event of his political career in Des Moines, Iowa, is hard to top. The  Hawkeye State launched the then-junior senator from Illinois to national prominence. And there is a movie script-like quality to having such a historic political trajectory emerge out of the frosty cornfields.

Speaking just steps from his 2008 caucus headquarters on Monday evening, it seemed at times as if the magic hadn’t faded.

“I came back to ask you to help us finish what we started because this is where our movement for change began,” Obama declared. “To all of you who’ve lived and breathed the hard work of change: I want to thank you. You took this campaign and made it your own … starting a movement that spread across the country.

“When the cynics said we couldn’t, you said yes we can. You said yes we can and we did. Against all odds, we did,” he said.

Wiping the occasional tear from his eye, and looking over a crowd of 20,000, Obama concluded with the same story that he told on the last day of his ’08 campaign: about the origins of his signature “fired-up-ready-to-go” chant. The arc of his first term in office was seemingly complete.

But if anything, the late night rally in Des Moines underscored how different Obama’s first and second White House runs have been. For all its poignant undertones, Monday night marked the end of a campaign that had little of the emotional appeal of four years ago. There was no sweeping “hope” narrative, no history-making proposition, no shadows of the Bush years to escape. Instead there was a business-like approach to a daunting task: how to re-elect a president with a slate of accomplishments, but with reduced popularity, a poor economy and no novelty.

“The biggest difference between 2008 and 2012 is that the sense of the mission changed,” said one Obama campaign adviser who, like nearly everyone, would discuss the campaign’s inner workings only on condition of anonymity. “In 2008, there was the sense of optimism and hope around the mission -– of changing the world. In 2012, the mission is as much the clear-eyed recognition of how important stopping the other side is. It is a grimmer, more realistic sense of mission.”

How Obama’s aides traversed this path is a story that will be told in greater detail in the election post-mortems. But months of conversations. And it shows a team that, while lacking the heartstrings of 2008, stayed true to other guiding principles: data-driven decision-making and solid execution.

“There has always been a laser-like focus on the part of the campaign on how to get where they need to be,” explained Hari Sevugan, who served as a spokesman for the 2008 campaign. “It was about delegates in 2008 and pathways to 270 [Electoral College votes] in 2012. “The formula, then and now, was always inspiration and energy at 30,000 feet and a no-nonsense attitude toward numbers and mechanics on the ground.”

Continued here…