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Edwards's Post-debate Jujitsu (plus: Elizabeth Slaps Tnr)

Indianola, Iowa 

I don't have a ton to add to Mike's debate analysis. The one thing I will say is that when I first heard the new version of the Clinton pitch Mike mentioned--"Some people believe you get [change] by demanding it. Some people believe you get it by hoping for it. I believe you get it by working hard for change"--I thought it was a winning distillation of the Clinton message. But, having just come back from an Edwards event in Indianola, I'm beginning to rethink that a bit. Edwards basically turned the line around on her--arguing that the only way to get change is to demand it. "I believe we have to demand change in this country," he said. "And I think we have to fight for that change. I don't think it's going to come on its own. ... I'm talking about the president of the United States fighting against the powerful interests that stand between you and all of the things that America needs."

It sounded like a pretty effective comeback. And, though I didn't make it to Obama's events today in Eastern Iowa, it wouldn't shock me if he turned Hillary's line around in a similar way. He already has a line in his stump speech about how people in Washington constantly accuse him of being a "hope-monger." I can almost hear him using Hillary as a foil in an updated version of that line--e.g., Senator Clinton doesn't want you to hope. She doesn't want you to dream. Well, I'm hear to tell you that you should hope, you should dream. Etc.

Oh, and speaking of foils, there's one other nugget to report from the Edwards event: Elizabeth, who was there introducing John (and, later, doing tag-team coverage on a health-care question), seemed to delight in using TNR as a foil--specifically citing Jason's profile of Edwards from this January, which was called "The Accidental Populist." "The 'populist' part was probably right," she said. "But the 'accidental' part was wrong.... His positions are not accidental at all. They're the inevitable result of a life lived the way he and his parents lived their lives."

Update: Here's a photo of Elizabeth jumping in to help field that health-care question. The elderly couple seated to her left (your right) is her mother- and father-in-law.


Second Update: I just saw some C-SPAN footage of the spin room at today's debate, and it looked like Elizabeth was even more explicit in throwing Hillary's "demand change" line back at her.

--Noam Scheiber