Observations From Primary-Land

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

Finally today, some assorted notes, questions and observations on these early primaries.

A couple of nice things happened in Iowa that should not be overlooked. An African-American won the Democratic caucuses in a state that is overwhelmingly white, and race was not a factor. No matter who you wanted to win, it's good to know that can happen.

On the Republican side, it was nice to know that every once in a while an election cannot be bought. Mitt Romney poured millions into Iowa, but Mike Huckabee beat him with a smile and a shoeshine, and not much more. Forget who won and lost; it is good to know that money does not always guarantee victory.

All the candidates are calling themselves agents of change this year, but here's the part that never changes: The winners stress the importance of winning Iowa, the losers explain how that is not necessarily so.

My question: If it wasn't important, why did they go?

And here's something that will never change: Once the spin machine starts spinning, it is hard to slow them down.

My favorite so far: the Clinton people are stressing their candidate's experience over what they see as Senator Obama's lack of same. To underline the danger of putting an inexperienced person in the Oval Office, a Clinton adviser actually pointed one of our people to Bill Clinton's first two years in office. "It was just a disaster," he said.

Now, I've been coming to New Hampshire since 1976. It's that kind of stuff that keeps me coming back.


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By Bob Schieffer
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    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.

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