Since starting this blog this past January, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, or at least shake hands with, every candidate in the Democratic field who has made a visit to Iowa. I’ve heard their ideas, or at least their rhetoric. I’ve had a chance to see how they perform in front of crowds large and small. I’m as star-struck by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as moved by the personal story of John Edwards, as impressed by the résumé of Bill Richardson, and appreciative of the Senate careers of Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, as anybody. I’ve heard the policy speeches on Iraq and health care, climate change and energy. I’ve been on the conference calls with the candidates, and heard them make the case about why they are uniquely qualified to lead the United States at this critical moment in history. I’ve watched the debates. I’ve sized them up, weighed the pros and cons, scrutinized their records. I’ve looked them in the eye, and taken the temperature of the fire in their bellies.
I now have to face the question of whether the time has come to declare support for one candidate above the others.
I’m happy to say this is not an easy choice to make. The Democratic roster this cycle is arguably the most impressive ever fielded by the party. Any one of the candidates I mention above could legitimately serve as president, and would do a better job of it than any Republican candidate this cycle, and, I need hardly say, the current incumbent. And, to an unusual degree, they all will have a future in national politics and running for the White House again after the 2008 election is over. In my view, however, one stands above the rest on experience, on leadership, on political courage, on character and integrity, and the strength of the ideas they have brought to this campaign.
Today, I am proud to announce that I support (insert name here) for President of the United States.
Okay, so I’ve been playing with you a little bit in this post. But I do have a serious point to make. While a number of others in the Iowa Democratic blogosphere have already thrown their support to a given candidate, or at least voted one or more off the island, I think it’s too early to jump quite yet. This is not only because we still have many months to go before caucus night, but also – and perhaps more to the point – because I haven’t actually seen what I think is the best shot from any of the candidates. Not yet. The candidates and their staffs are all out there working hard, and none of them, I’m convinced, is in this for any other reason than to win. But the day when the message, the moment and the candidate click together to lock in not just my approval, not just my respect, but my gut-level conviction that no one else but they will do as my choice for president, has yet to arrive.
So here’s my point, made to both the candidates and their staffs: there are more undecideds here in Iowa than you may think. And we’re waiting. On you. To win us over.
Keep coming to Iowa. Keep working hard. And then find the moment when you go beyond the ordinary day-to-day of the campaign, and show us greatness. Show us greatness on experience, on leadership, on political courage, on character and integrity, and the strength of the ideas you bring to this campaign. And I promise you, when that moment comes, we will, in our blogs, in our letters to the editor, in our canvassing, phone banking, fundraising, event attendance, and every other campaign capacity you can think of, show greatness right back to you.
And that is how we will win, both in Iowa next January, and across the country the following November.
A moment yet to come. A moment that will be. I can’t wait!