Editor's Note: President Obama's speech on the eve of Election Day reflected the president's transformation, writes commentator Michael K. Frisby. As a journalist, Frisby covered every presidential campaign from 1976 to 1996, and is the former White House Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.


We have just witnessed the evolution of Barack Obama. Just watched his last campaign speech (ever) and what I saw was an amazing transformation. Hard to imagine it was the same politician who looked so broken and dispirited at the first debate. There is something about the American political process that actually works: it breaks a man or woman down, and we watch whether they succumb or if they have the resolve to recover.

We see if the candidate has the character and strength to overcome the obstacles, to reach heights never surpassed before. The president I just saw in Iowa was vigorous, full of life and articulating his vision not only for the nation, but for the world. He was something that Barack Obama has never ever been before: a masterful politician. He talked with compassion and made sure everyone – blacks, whites, browns, gays, men, women, rich, poor – knew that he was talking to them. There was something Clintonesque about it, suddenly an ability to feel the pain and suffering, and then prescribe a fix that people believed in. I’ve always (well almost always) liked and supported him, but for me there always seemed to be a disconnect. Did he actually like politics? Could he relate to common folks or was it an act? Was he up for the struggle, the long days and nights campaigning, did he have the gut to truly fight for what he believed in or was the first debate the real Barack Obama – got in a dogfight and was ready to punt and go home with one term. And most importantly, was he really arrogant and aloof?

Wow. Tonight I got my answer. He delivered one of the best campaign stump speeches in history. He nailed it. No teleprompter or notes. Just straight from the heart, talking about his journey, the people who affected him and what he will accomplish with four more years. No pauses and stuttering. It was riveting, not because of the flowing rhetoric, but because it came across the screen as so genuine. Yes, he cares. And yes he wants it. Yes he has been willing to fight for it. And then it happened. Something he had no control over, something that sealed the deal and sold the authenticity. He wiped tears away from his left eye. Even he was caught up in the moment, the Last Hurrah. Regardless of what happens tonight, when the votes are counted, this difficult campaign made Barack Obama a better man, a better leader, a better president. It will be a travesty if he doesn’t get four more years. If he’s not re-elected, America will get what it deserves.