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Obama: The Movement Has Begun

NASHUA, N.H. -- The line snaked for at least a half mile from the entrance of Nashua North High School. The first people in it had arrived at 7:30 a.m. -- two-and-a-half hours before Barack Obama was scheduled to start speaking. One woman had driven from West Hartford, Conn. The crowd was estimated at 3,000 and looked every bit of that number.

The movement has begun.

The Fix has long believed that the lone path for Obama to the Democratic nomination was to transform himself from a candidate into a movement. That is, by voting for Obama people would believe they are choosing something greater than simply a political candidate, that they are supporting a cause to change the way politics in America has been conducted.

In his speech here this morning, Obama cited the results in Iowa as a sign that things had changed in America politics. "A few days ago something special happened in the Midwest," Obama said to loud cheers. "The people of Iowa decided to set aside their fear and cynicism and reach for what is possible."

He cast New Hampshire as the next step in that process, a chance to validate the change that Iowa had voted for on Thursday. "In three days time you have the chance to continue that journey," Obama told the audience. "We are on the cusp of creating a new majority." Echoing perhaps the single best campaign commercial run so far in this race, Obama urged the crowd: "Our moment is now."

That message -- that in voting for Obama Americans are opting for a broad change in the way politics is conducted -- is VERY powerful and will be exceedingly difficult for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) or anyone else to overcome.

Put another way: Obama's opponents are playing checkers while he is playing chess. When Clinton or John Edwards speak, they are regarded by those in attendance as politicians. Obama -- at least at the moment -- is seen as the leader of a movement.

"This is not about me," asserted Obama. "This is about you."

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 5, 2008; 11:44 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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