Barack Obama was badly in need of sleep, but he wasn't going to get any just yet. Late last Wednesday night, the candidate and his wife, Michelle, collapsed on the leather sofa aboard their campaign bus. It was the end of a 17-hour day rolling around Iowa trolling for votes. They had just come from a nighttime rally in Waterloo, where they double-teamed an enthusiastic crowd in an overheated school gym. On the bus, Obama nursed his raw throat with tea from a steel travel mug, his arm around Michelle's shoulder.
The long-awaited Iowa caucuses--portrayed by the pundits as a make-or-break test of a black candidate's viability with white voters, and of his ability to stand up to Hillary Clinton--were the next day. In less than 24 hours, he'd know if it had all been worth it, or if he had been wasting his time. A NEWSWEEK reporter asked him how he felt on the eve of the big event. "I feel calm," he answered. Calm? Not nervous about the results, or plain exhausted after 10 months on the road? "No. Because this is the campaign I always wanted to run. If it doesn't work, it's not because of the organization we built or the respectful tone that we set."