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Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 16:00 | SYDNEY
Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 16:00 | SYDNEY

Give it up for Obama

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7 January 2008 13:50

The Iowa caucuses were a big deal in US politics: a black man won an important, closely-contested primary; the Clinton machine lost; the outsiders surged; the insiders bombed; and Chuck Norris took his place at a presidential election podium.

Obama is the hip-hop candidate: he shoots hoops and asks the audience to ‘give it up’ for his wifeBarack Obama’s victory changes the character of the Democratic race. Obama already had talent, money and organisation. Now he also has a proven ability to attract votes – including from independents, young people, and Americans not accustomed to voting. He will take that  momentum to New Hampshire, political terrain that may even be more suited to him than Iowa. If he wins there, South Carolina is just around the corner, and notwithstanding the Clinton brand you would have to bargain on African-Americans in that state coming over to him in droves.

Overnight, Hillary Clinton has lost her frontrunner status. She still has relentless determination, money, IOUs – and she has Bill. But she’s no longer the inevitable Democratic candidate, and she certainly doesn’t look any more electable than Obama. She’s also on the wrong side of a generational gap. Obama is the hip-hop candidate: he shoots hoops and asks the audience to ‘give it up’ for his wife, Michelle Obama. Over at Clinton HQ on caucus night, they somehow contrived to have Hillary surrounded by Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright – not exactly harbingers of change. Senator Clinton can still win the nomination, but she will have to campaign brilliantly and Obama will have to start making mistakes.

The Iowa caucuses were not so transformative on the Republican side, but they have certainly complicated the race. Mike Huckabee – amusing, likeable, sometimes Reaganesque – is now a force to be reckoned with in the Republican Party. Like Obama, he’s a candidate for change; but unlike Obama, he lacks money, people, and, perhaps, the policies required to win a national race. Iowa certainly damaged Mitt Romney, though, and it may have created space for an establishment candidate, perhaps John McCain, to make his move in New Hampshire.

Editor's note: Michael was interviewed by ABC radio on this subject this morning. The interview starts about 45 minutes into the one-hour recording.

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