Last week, Clinton advisers believed Mr. Clinton was rattling Mr. Obama and drawing his focus away from his message. The results on Saturday indicated, instead, that voters were impressed with Mr. Obama’s mettle and agreed with him that the Clintons ran an excessively negative campaign here.
— From NYT 1/26/07 News Analysis: “Obama Weathers A Test Of Mettle.”
With Zogby warning the race was tightening, and the media convinced Bubba had gotten into Barack’s head, this proved a quintessential photo in the South Carolina media narrative. (It appeared in Friday’s NYT “On The Trail” slideshow.)
What I was specifically wondering, however, is what the caption might have looked like if those Clinton advisors had dictated that too:
Clearly, the campaign was distracted and agitated, the mood as cold and hard as that manilla block wall at Kingstree Senior High School. Axelrod kept repeating that they couldn’t lose, but nobody was listening. Gibbs, the communications director, just kept his head down, playing with his Blackberry. Obama, of course, was the picture of disgust. He kept looking off in the distance, as if enduring Clinton spouting off again. His focus clearly drawn away from his message, Obama grumbled: “These notes… Why, they’re not worth the paper their written on!”
Surely, that’s how it went down.
Next episode: Tired of “change” and “hope,” Super Tuesday voters clamor for “mettle.”
(image: Damon Winter/The New York Times. Kingstree, South Carolina. January 24, 2008. nytimes.com)