Ever since Reagan and his media-savvy handlers (like Mike Deaver, the former vice chairman of Edelman who recently passed away), candidates and their teams have been wholly calculating in the decisions about who or what is behind the candidates when they give speeches. Strength, change, vision – all sorts of fuzzy emotions can be conveyed depending on the backdrop.
With yesterday's Iowa caucuses, the top candidates from both parties made some interesting choices in speeches that for many cable TV viewers may have been the first opportunity to compare candidates in rapid succession. Obama, not surprisingly, had a sea of college students and other young folks behind him as he gave his victory speech (he won handily, along with Mike Huckabee on the Republican side). Young people helped generate Obama's win, as media commentators noted, and his speech reinforced his campaign's ongoing emphasis on “change” and “hope.”
Huckabee, meanwhile, had Chuck Norris standing behind him. Perhaps the widespread respect accorded to former President Reagan and current California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, makes the presence of Chuck Norris onstage with Huckabee not especially bizarre. He played “Walker: Texas Ranger” and he kicks butt, just like Huckabee, presumably.
One of the biggest stories of yesterday's caucuses was not about the winners, but loser Hillary Clinton who, with most of the results in, was in a close race for second with John Edwards. Standing behind her during her (non-)concession speech was husband, Bill, and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, among other campaign supporters, reinforcing Hillary's ongoing theme of being the candidate not really of change but “experience.” But judging by her backdrop, does that mean someone else's experience?
Elsewhere on the trail…
The candidates and their “mood music,” post-Iowa caucuses.
Science advocates seek greater discussion on candidates' science policies.
There's still a war in Iraq?
Biden, Dodd drop out of race.