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Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Charisma Factor

Perhaps we as a voters are afraid to admit the truth: charisma matters.

I got to meet former President Bill Clinton (thanks to Greta!) and everything that you have read about his genuine charm is true.

There I was in the lobby of the Hotel Fort Des Moines in front of a gaggle of about 50 media folks having a 10-minute personal conversation with the former Commander in Chief talking about - of all things - his cowboys boots (Justin Lizard skin with a tear in the right foot).

I ran into my new pal Bill TWO more times - and on the third, he recalled my name. That's impressive.

What is also impressive is listening to Obama stump. His speeches are characterized by a feeling of electricity and excitement in the crowd and his delivery seems to feed on the personal connections he is making with his overly enthusiatic audiences.

As a matter of pure personal observation, I must say that the same cannot be said of Hillary events. In two recent events, the room seemed to flattened a few minutes after her all-star husband introduced her. I recall watching this happen years ago at Coretta Scott King's funeral - and I recall thinking, she will have a real problem if this continues when she runs for high office.

It also makes me wonder: would we be in this Obama revolution if she had more of her husband's personality?

I'm sure we'll never know, although in fairness, Clinton staffers almost universally say she is as warm and charming behind the scenes as ever (hello, Al Gore?!).

Yet one thing is undeniable: charisma is playing a role in determining who our next president will be in 2008.