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Sweet: Obama, off and running.

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama jumped in the race for the White House on Tuesday, in a historic bid to be the nation's first black president.

Obama, 45, is the youngest contender so far in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. The candidacy of the charismatic freshman Illinois senator brings a message of generational change. He will run as an outsider calling for a transformation of the nation's politics. He starts as a front-runner, along with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

"The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place," Obama said in statement. He taped a video version of his rationale for running Saturday in Chicago and posted it on his Web site Tuesday.

On Tuesday Obama filed papers creating an exploratory campaign, which he needed to do to legally start raising and spending money, and made a series of calls looking for political and financial support.

In a conference call with some of his best fund-raisers Tuesday, Obama said he could need to raise between $65 million and $70 million for the primary season -- a year away -- and set a goal of raising $500,000 on his first day in the race.

On Feb. 10, Obama will make a public pronouncement of candidacy in Springfield, where he started his political career as a state senator. That same day he will campaign in Iowa, home of the crucial first-in-the-nation presidential caucus vote.

A kickoff in the Illinois capital will serve to marry the Obama political narrative with that of Springfield's Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, like Obama, was a member of the Illinois General Assembly, before his election to Congress and then the White House. Like Obama, Lincoln didn't have much experience before becoming president and leading the nation through a turbulent era. Obama, the son of a Kenyan father, will kick off his quest at or near the home of the man who freed the African slaves.


Facing new scrutiny
That Lincoln was a Republican will only underscore one of Obama's refrains: The great issues facing the U.S., such as the Iraq war, are not Republican or Democratic problems, but American problems.
Obama, who has enjoyed almost constant favorable publicity since winning his Illinois Senate primary campaign in March 2004 -- with the exception a public apology for a real estate deal involving the now indicted Tony Rezko -- enters a new phase with his candidacy.

"He will face a great deal more scrutiny than he ever faced before," said Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 White House race. "We have a credible contender who happens to be a minority and that's refreshing," she added.

William Daley, who was chairman of Gore's campaign and is now an Obama supporter, said what lies ahead for the Illinois Democrat "is uncharted waters." With a year until the first primary vote, Daley said by January, Obama "will be a seasoned candidate."

Lanny Davis, a Hillary Clinton backer who served in the Clinton White House, said Obama and the New York senator are "both instinctively centrists who realize the Democratic party has to win red states as well as blue states to be a truly national party."

The surge of popularity Obama hopes to ride to the White House started building in September, after he returned from an African visit. A national tour to promote his book, The Audacity of Hope, was followed by campaigning for Democrats on the November ballot. That created the tidal wave that focused Obama on moving up his timetable and running for president in 2008.

Obama will spend the next three weeks organizing a national political organization with central roles played by Chicago media consultant David Axelrod and his partner David Plouffe, who will manage the campaign.

lsweet@suntimes.com


23 Comments

Barack Obabma cetrtainly has the oratory skills and charisma that former President Bill Clinton had which will get him far in his bid for the White House. But Hilary is a formidable and ruthless opponent whose sole ambition is to occupy the White House again not for the good of our nation but to feed her own ego. If Obama wins his parties nomination hopefully he will not choose Hilary as a running mate for that would spell doom for the ticket.

Lynn you SHOULD NEVER compare Bambi Obama to Abraham Lincoln...Lincoln was a uniter, Bambi is a race bating divider. See Maryland senate race Mike Steele, Lincoln stood for something freedom from goverment oppression, Bambi wants the goverment to wipe our behinds for everything. You insult all Illinoisians with your remarks!

Sen. Barack Obama jumped in the race for the White House on Tuesday, in a historic bid to be the nation's first black president.
gee i think i remember jesse jackson running for president???

If Obama says he is against the war in Iraq from the get-go it seems strange that he is either not supporting or hesitating to support Sen Kennedy's bill to stop the "surge plan." Lynn, what is with that, why won't Senator Obama support the Kennedy bill or the Walter Jones, HJR 14, a joint resolution against any use of force against Iran without prior Congressional authorization.

Is Obama putting other considerations, whatever they might be, ahead of acting fully and forcefully to stop the unfolding tragedies of more troops dying in Iraq and a new war with Iran?

It seems he ought to "come clean," on this? Only asking. Gerald Pechenuk LaRouche PAC Chicago

You forgot a couple of additional and important similarities between the two men -- both lost their first campaign for Congress (Lincoln lost his first effort to secure the Whig nomination for the House, and then was elected two years later); and both gained national prominence before their Presidential campaigns through a national speaking tour.

Wow...Mr. Carlito proves to be a typically negative, divisive individual for whom all the attack ads of the last 15 years have been designed and clearly worked. I find posts like his to be the exact symptom of why someone who speaks in positive terms and avoids attacks is so needed these days. The stale air that Mr. Carlito exhales is very tired...we need a breath of fresh air.

Obama is a uniter. Obama was recently invited to an ultra-conservative meeting in southern California on which he spoke about the HIV problem in Africa. Obama is not afraid to venture to the "enemy's territory". Clinton, although a formidable politician and a viable candidate, is too polarizing a figure. With President Bush rejecting all forms of compromise, America is looking for someone with a new outlook that will be able to compromise. Obama for '08!

Oh huuh huh ,oh no Jesus ,Your name shake is but a prophet who preaches truth and not a racist .do i hear you fume over the truth .He wins or not the comparison is matching well and i hope it continues to the White House.Vive Obama.

I appreciate the ariticle and the positive comment given so far by Tim Little however and deeply offended by Mr. Carlito's comment. It is more than reasonable to oppose Sen. Obama but name-calling is inappropriate. Please use your intellect when commenting.

On the Article: I am very excited about the potential run of Sen. Obama. It is a refreshing testament to American democracy that a bi-racial son of an immigrant father can become the President of the most powerful country on the planet. This will show the world that the American people are open and ready for change even if our current government is not.

Gerald,

After watching several interviews with Obama, it is my understanding that he is not ready to support a fund withdrawl proposed by Kennedy because he doesn't want the already present troops to lose supplies. I think this is a justifiable reason for not supporting such a bill. Senator Kennedy is a very left leaning democrat and therefore his bills tend to be a little on the extreme side. Right now what is needed is a bipartisan agreement on what should be done. As far as the other bill you have mentioned, I have not yet read anything or heard anything as of yet on Obama's stance on that bill.

Regarding Gerald Pechenuk LaRouche's comments: Obama said that even though he was agaainst the war he could not support a measure that would keep needed equiptment from the troops already there. Supporting the war and supporting the troops are not one and the same. If you think too many young lives have been wasted in Iraq now let Sen. Kennedy's measure pass and see how many more are lost due to under-funding.

Kenney's Bill was drafted after the weekend retreat of ALL of the Senate Democrats including Obama. That retreat of ALL of the Democrats assigned Kennedy to take the lead role in putting the anti-surge bill forward. By the way, former President Clinton and former Senator George Mitchell were also in on that Democratic Senatorial retreat. So, despite that Obama seems to be allowing "other considerations," whatever that might be, cloud his judgment. Reader k's response excusing Obama does not hold water. After all, there is one "Democratic" Senator opposing withdrawl, Senator Joe Lieberman..... which by the way Obama, again for some unknown (to me, at least) reason OBAMA SUPPORTED LIEBERMAN for the US Senate. Can reader k (or Lynn Sweet) or anyone else for that matter, explain why Barack Obama supported Joe Lieberman for the US SENATE? Do any of you call that a man of principle? Please explain!!! Only asking. Gerald Pechenuk Larouche PAC cities12345@yahoo.com
Reader k's exlanation of Obama's hesitance comes up short in my

Kenney's Bill was drafted after the weekend retreat of ALL of the Senate Democrats including Obama. That retreat of ALL of the Democrats assigned Kennedy to take the lead role in putting the anti-surge bill forward. By the way, former President Clinton and former Senator George Mitchell were also in on that Democratic Senatorial retreat. So, despite that Obama seems to be allowing "other considerations," whatever that might be, cloud his judgment. Reader k's response excusing Obama does not hold water. After all, there is one "Democratic" Senator opposing withdrawl, Senator Joe Lieberman..... which by the way Obama, again for some unknown (to me, at least) reason OBAMA SUPPORTED LIEBERMAN for the US Senate. Can reader k (or Lynn Sweet) or anyone else for that matter, explain why Barack Obama supported Joe Lieberman for the US SENATE? Do any of you call that a man of principle? Please explain!!! Only asking. Gerald Pechenuk Larouche PAC cities12345@yahoo.com
Reader k's exlanation of Obama's hesitance comes up short in my view.

Regarding Tim Little's comments. The Baker-Hamilton Bi-Partisan Commission called for a drawdown of troops to be fully out by early 2007. Surely, Tim Little and Senator Obama and every one else can recognize that Cheney and Bush intend to trash that approach and escalate the war with the added factor of Iran War being thrown in with some kind of new "Tonkin Gulf" real or made-up incident to kick that off. So, for whatever reason, playing games by Senator Obama will give Cheney-Bush room to get their murderous way even longer. Kennedy's bill was agreed to by the Democratic Senatorial Retreat with Bill Clinton and George Mitchell in attendence. What's Obama's problem with that? Why did he support Lieberman for Senate? What's up with that ??? Gerald Pechenuk LaRouche PAC cities12345@yahoo.com

after 6 years of opressions the democrats were resorting to anyway they could win the house or senate. Sen. Obama for that moment was doing what he thought was best for the country by getting a democrat elected in libermans case. However he can not be held accountable for another mans choices.
Don't tell mamma I'm for obama!

It is amazing how the media is so aggressively selling Barack Obama to the American public. I might have considered voting for him in 2008 if I did not feel so manipulated.

Dear United State-ians (as fellow North Americans, we--in conjunction with the Argentinians-- reserve the right to refer to ourselves as "American" too),

This is just to let you know that we saw him on Oprah. He has a pleasant face. He speaks without a funny accent. He doesn't make up words. He seems popular. He does not appear to be arrogant.

Hmm...

We feel that it would be difficult to mock him in any sort of biting, satirically meaningful way.

Because we cannot risk losing or even diminishing the comedic impact of such shows as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report, Canada would decisively withdraw any and all support for Obama.

Obama? Oh... boring.

If you must choose Obama, we demand that you supplement your television networks with the addition of at least 2 more well-written comedies that may leech off of you. And no cheap King Of The Hill knock-offs--we want some of that high-quality, quirky character-driven stuff, like with House or Seinfeld.

May we suggest a pseudo-reality tv show with that really good Bush impersonator? He made us like Bush for a moment, because we really admire people that openly mock themselves and laugh right along with everyone else. It might also be therapeutic.

That is all.

Sincerely,
Canada

Dont ever compare Bambi with a brave amn like Honest Abe, Abe didnt get that nickname dealing with people like Ton Rezko, I have a feelin thats the tip of the ice berg with this sleeze. Bambi Obama = Abe ----PUKE.....never.

Obama is the only candidate on record as opposing the Iraq fiasco back in 2002 before it started- That alone gets my vote. Also, new initives like the personalized medicine act (recognizing that one way to cut balooning medical costs is to give the correct drug on the first time, not the third or the fifth) shows him way ahead of the the crowd. Hillary will just do what is convenent for her politically, she has nothing going for her except her name. McCain has an anger management problem, and his support of the war will make his campaign go down in flames. I think it will be Hagel vs. Obama, with Edwards again the vice, (though I would have preferred Gore)

It would be disasterous for America's voters to actually consider voting into office someone who has virtually no record of accomplishments. He obviously has been concealing his Muslim upbringing or lack of any sort of Christian upbringing. It would be fatal to this nation to ask this person to be our leader as he starts out on the wrong foot by lying to the nation straight away.

I sgree with Mr Carlito, Obama is a LOSER!

I find it deeply upsetting that Sen. Obama just expressed interest in the presidency and already there is a large group of nay sayers popping up. This nation needs reform, and a breath of fresh air. What better way to provide that than to bring in a fledgling senator who hasn't been tainted by the corruption that runs so rampant in our government today. Everyone is focusing on the fact that he is of African American descent, when in all actuality the focus should should be on what he can provide for us as a nation. I also agree that people like Mr. Carlito are the typical reason why we are in the state we are in, fear of change. I have an idea if you want everyone to fit into a mold and follow the same lifestyle, move to Cuba! This is America, a nation founded on the sole reason of escaping prejudice, and forming into a nation that accepts all walks of life. Not just Republican, white collar, war supporting drones.

For the record Dennis Kucinich is a candidate too, and he was far more passionately against the Iraq war then and now. He also was in Congress when it started unlike Obama who undoubtedly found it easier to be anti-war given his far lower stature. Obama may have a better chance to win, but he's really not a very exciting candidate for true liberals, unlike Kucinich.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 17, 2007 7:15 AM.

Obama forms 2008 White House exploratory committee. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column: Obama floats Iraq plan after Clinton puts out proposal. Obama rapid response. is the next entry in this blog.

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