CENTERVILLE, Iowa, 7:08 a.m. – Perhaps it was the cinnamon rolls, or maybe just the excitement in the Kury house that prompted me to become a bit braver than usual.

The national media had staked out the household, and as we fought one another for precious territory in the dining room, Senator John Edwards made his appearance. Normally, I would have remained in my small space and shot the necessary photos of the candidate greeting supporters and dutifully eating the pancakes Mrs. Kury had laid out before him. However, on this occasion, an unusual friendliness overtook me.

I slipped out the back door of the house and made my way around to the front porch in anticipation of Sen. Edwards’s departure. With camera in hand, I braved the one-degree weather and snapped a photo of the Senator as he stepped out into the frigid Iowa morning; generally, I would not mind a slightly embarrassing photo of a well-known politician, but sympathy overtook me on this occasion. His expression was equal parts ‘deer in headlights’ and ‘man who has campaigned for 36 straight hours,’ and the photograph simply did not do him justice.

In an attempt to apologize, I extended my hand and said, “Senator Edwards, it is an honor to meet you.” With that, he replied, “Sure, kid, same to you.” As he boarded his hired bus to continue on to another breakfast in another freezing city, I was left with only one thought, one impression of the man who could possibly be the next president of the United States: “My, what soft hands.”

-Matthew Lucas