Obama in '08? He's thinking about it\
October 23, 2006
BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Columnist
A few days ago, Sen. Barack Obama seemed to promise Oprah she would get the news first, as if a decision to make a run for president comes all at once. It does not.
It actually is an incremental process and on NBC's "Meet the Press," Obama said Sunday he is mulling a 2008 presidential run.
Obama told Tim Russert that he had "thought about the possibility'' of a 2008 bid. Obama walked away from the flat denial of interest in being on the 2008 ticket that he had made on the same show on Jan. 22.
Then, Obama said "I will not'' when Russert asked him about running for president or vice president in 2008. The Illinois Democrat, elected to the Senate in 2004, pledged "absolutely'' in the same interview to serve his entire six-year term.
On Sunday, Obama -- in the midst of an orchestrated massive publicity campaign to sell his new book -- reversed himself on both points.
It's the furthest Obama has gone in the scores of print and television interviews he has been giving in order to hype The Audacity of Hope, published last week.
Hinting about his White House ambitions has fueled a media frenzy in the weeks leading up to the book's release. Obama has been saying he will defer any decision until after the November elections -- but never, until Sunday, conceded he was thinking about a run.
Russert asked Obama if it was "fair to say'' he was "thinking'' about a 2008 White House bid.
"It's fair, yes," Obama replied.
Obama strategist David Axelrod -- who traveled to Washington from Chicago to be with Obama for the Russert interview -- said if Obama made a bid, he would go the traditional route of looking for support in the states with the earliest presidential test votes, Iowa and New Hampshire.
'Less wiggle room'
"If you are going to do this, you have to respect the process and the people who participate in it,'' Axelrod told me Sunday.
Axelrod said Obama went further with Russert than with other interviewers who have been pressing him about 2008 because of the "context'' in which he asked the question.
"The context was that Obama had less wiggle room because Russert replayed the tape and asked specifically about his earlier comments.
"That was how I was thinking at the time,'' Obama said. "And, and, you know, I don't want to be coy about this, given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility.''
Obama said he was not worried about a lack of experience. "I'm not sure anybody is ready to be president before they're president.''