INDIANOLA, Iowa, 11:30 p.m. — The scene this morning in Indianola’s First Methodist Church resembled a pep rally more than a town hall meeting as Yale’s sole representative in the race, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton LAW ’73, stopped here on her trek across the state.

That’s when the subliminal advertising began.

The carefully selected tracks preceding Clinton’s introduction included Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police. Two American flags hung in the line of sight of the two press areas, making it impossible for any picture or video segment not to include the red, white and blue.

And then, the not-so-subliminal: Clinton opened her remarks with a swipe at her main competition for the Democratic nomination.

She addressed the notion of “change.”

“You don’t demand it,” she insisted in a blow to Edwards. “And you don’t hope for it,” she said in a punch at Obama. “You simply do it.”

She and the other candidates we encountered today—Barack Obama and John Edwards—amount at this late stage to brands, marketing themselves to the consumers: Iowa voters.

And they know how to use the media to promote their messages.

Particularly Clinton.

At the event, throngs of supporters proudly brandished “Hillary 2008” posters. Free t-shirts flew into the energized audience; the campaign pulled five young girls from the audience to help. Supporters wore any number of t-shirts, buttons and pins with slogans such as “I’m ready for Hillary 2008.”

Actress Mary Steenburgen and her husband, actor Ted Danson — best known for his roles as Sam Malone in “Cheers” and Dr. John Becker in “Becker” — were there, too.

“I am for Hillary Clinton,” Danson said, raising his left hand in solidarity. The audience erupted in cheers and applause, and Clinton made her entrance.

Accompanied by her daughter Chelsea, her mother Dorothy Rodham, and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, Clinton took the stage. Vilsack took the microphone. He spoke to the crowd about the importance of caucusing. The women, representing three generations of the Rodham family, stood together at one side.

When Vilsack finished, he handed the microphone to the woman of the hour.

Clinton focused her remarks on the need to balance values and interests in U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Her discussion centered on rights, specifically human rights. And Clinton discussed women and their place in society.

“Women’s rights are human rights,” Clinton said she had declared on her 1995 trip to China.

She went on to reference the Declaration of Independence.

“‘We hold these truths to be self-evident,” she said, quoting the most famous portion of the Preamble. “They’re not American rights; they’re human rights.”

Later that evening at a similar rally in West Des Moines featuring singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, Clinton’s rival, former senator and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, also focused his rhetoric on the need to value families, but turned to the domestic rather than the international.

Keeping with his message points, Edwards attacked corporate America.

“These people have an iron-fisted grip on your democracy,” Edwards said. “Corporate greed is robbing our children of America.”

– Chris Young