The very last stop of a very long race, and the final campaign speech of President Obama’s meteoric political career, brought the stoic statesman to tears. In Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, the president admitted, “we were getting kind of sentimental.”
For a campaign that has dialed down the “Hope and Change” emotional appeal in favor of the pragmatic “Forward,” some nostalgia for 2008 was indulged. The president became visibly choked up (at the 29 minute mark in the video below) after telling the story of Edith Childs. Childs is a well known Obama supporter who turned down the campaign’s offer to fly in and chant her signature catchphrase, “fired up and ready to go” at the final rally, in favor of knocking on doors in North Carolina.
Childs reply was, “I’m still fired up, but I got work to do.” The president, visibly moved, reminded his audience that like Childs, “one voice can change a room” and from that voice, “we can change the world.” Highlighting the inclusivity that has been the hallmark of his “we’re all in this together” versus Mitt Romney’s perceived “you’re on your own” message; President Obama reiterated that it doesn’t matter, “what you look like, who you love, or what your last name is.”
Collin Burton, who lead a DC Young Democrats canvassing team in Ohio this weekend, said that the perceived difference in sentimentality between the 2008 campaign and 2012 can be attributed to the fact that, “In 2008 people saw Obama as a rock star. Now he’s regarded as a serious leader, and capable statesman, and it’s not appropriate to be cheering and screaming at a statesman like he’s a rock star.”
The final speech that brought the president back geographically and emotionally to the beginning of his presidential journey reminded us that he’s not just a savior, not just a statesman, but also a man.