WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — John Edwards' 36-hour "Marathon for the Middle Class" culminated tonight with a concert performance by John Mellencamp at the Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines. Mellencamp rocked classics like "Pink Houses" and "Jack and Diane" (which both got the notoriously cynical press corps taking pictures on their digital cameras), but he finished with the incredibly obnoxious "This Is Our Country," which has been used by Chevrolet to basically ruin several years worth of baseball playoffs.
Edwards' speech, which followed the musical performance, would have been familiar to regular MoJo readers, who know all about Edwards' "fight" theme. He has sharpened his attacks on Obama's approach to health care reform slightly. He tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who had to fight her insurance company for a much-needed liver transplant, only to get them to agree too late to save her from a premature death. "You want me to sit at a table and negotiate with those people?" Edwards shouted, indignantly. "It will never happen. Never!"
The Edwards message has been crystallized: "Corporate greed is robbing our children of the promise of America." His stump speech is basically an exercise in finding a dozen different ways of making that point. If you agree that corporations "have an iron-fisted grip on [American] democracy," and that only a candidate with "some strength, some fight... and some backbone" can break that grip, you've got your candidate.
Voters who don't mind corporations (perhaps because they work for one), or who feel that presidents can gain more with honey than with vinegar... they'll have to look elsewhere in tomorrow night's caucus.
I'll be in a caucus room, bringing you a blow by blow. Hopefully, I'll have a report from the victor's party as well. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, bone up a little on how the caucus works.