The man Ahmadinejad defeated for president, Hashimi-Rafsanjani was the quintessential elite insider. He was wealthy, distant and removed from the Iranian people and moved the majestic ease of someone well accustomed to power. He also carried a reputation for corruption and murder (thanks in no small part to the courageous writing of Akbar Ghanji). In contrast, Ahmadinejad is a student, so to speak, to Tip O'Neill--"all politics in local". This is a lesson that Islamists parties across the Middle East and the broader Muslim world have learned, often in marked contrast to secular politicians who know only how to look upward.
A Man of the People's Needs and Wants: "Here, ordinary people marvel at how their president comes across as someone in touch, as populist candidate turned caring incumbent. In speeches, 17-hour workdays and biweekly trips like the one that brought him here to Central Province, Ahmadinejad showcases a relentless preoccupation with the health, housing and, most of all, money problems that may barely register on the global agenda but represent the most clear and present danger for most in this nation of 70 million.
'It's good to have a very kind person near you, caring about your problems,' said Akram Rashidi, 34, at the counter of a stationery store where the run on envelopes outpaced the supply of change. 'The important thing is that the president and important people are caring about the people.'"