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Sweet blog special: Vanessa Williams cancels Obama visit; Bono keeps date. Obama tells NPR re race: "I think my candidacy for the presidency is going to bring to the surface a whole bunch of stuff." UPDATE Williams ended up meeting Obama later.

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White House hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton both touch down in Selma on Saturday in a pilgrimage to a place playing a crucial role in the African-American struggle for equality in the U.S. Saturday marks the anniversary of the historic Selma march.

In advance of the trip, Obama talked to NPR on Tuesday about race. Said Obama: " And so I think my candidacy for the presidency is going to bring to the surface a whole bunch of stuff."

For more on Obama's day, click below....

Obama was supposed to meet with Vanessa Williams, the actress and Special Olympics International Board of Directors member. (She's starring in a new film, "My Brother.")

But the meeting never happened. Williams flight was cancelled. Williams wanted to talk to Obama about the Special Olympics. (UPDATE...FLIGHT WAS DELAYED. WILLIAMS MET LATER IN THE DAY WITH OBAMA)

Meanwhile, Obama did visit with rocker and global rights activist Bono. They discussed Bono's poverty fighting campaign and his global health portfolio.

In advance of his Selma visit, Obama taped an interview with NPR; excerpts below...

this from NPR...

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL TALKS TO NPR NEWS

ABOUT HIS UPCOMING TRIP TO ALABAMA

FOR THE SELMA ANNIVERSARY AND RACIAL IDENTITY

ON NPR NEWS MORNING EDITION

TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2007

TRANSCRIBED EXCERPTS BELOW; AUDIO AVAILABLE WEDNESDAY MORNING AT WWW.NPR.ORG

Washington, D.C.; February 27, 2007 – In an interview with Steve Inskeep airing tomorrow on NPR News’ Morning Edition, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), Democratic presidential hopeful previews his upcoming trip to Alabama on the anniversary of the Selma march for voting rights which was a watershed moment in the American civil rights movement. Sen. Obama also discusses the significance of his racial identity as a candidate for President. When asked if he felt the need to prove himself to black leaders or civil rights leaders, Sen. Obama said, “You know, I really don’t.”

Transcribed excerpts of the interview are below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News’ Morning Edition. The interview airs tomorrow morning, Wednesday, February 28. Local station’s air time of the program is available at www.npr.org/stations. Audio of the interview will be available at www.npr.org

On feeling the need to prove himself to black leaders or civil rights leaders: “I think it’s instructive to look at how I ran my U.S. Senate campaign. When I first started that race, I was not only registering poorly in the polls because nobody knew who I was, but it was really not that much different in the African-American community. And in the end, I ended up getting 80 or 90 percent of the African-American vote, but I also won the vote. So I think that the African-American community is more sophisticated than I think the pundits sometimes give them credit for. The notion that right now I’m not dominating the black vote in the polls makes perfect sense because I have only been on the national scene for a certain number of years, and people don’t yet know what my track record is.”

On the significance of his racial identity in running for President: “You know, identity politics in this country are always going to be complicated, and African-American politics in particular is weighted with extraordinary history, often painful and tragic history. And so I think my candidacy for the presidency is going to bring to the surface a whole bunch of stuff. A lot of it won’t necessarily have to do with me, but will have to do with the country being in a dialogue about where we are now, how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.”

On whether being an African American president would influence how he governs: “Well, I guess what I would say would be that there are certain instincts that I have that may be stronger because of my experience as an African American. I don’t think they’re exclusive to African Americans but I think I maybe feel them more acutely. I think I would be very interested in having a civil rights division that is serious about enforcing civil rights laws. I think that when it comes to an issue like education, for example, I feel great pain knowing that there are children in a lot of schools in American who are not getting anything close to the kind of education that will allow them to compete. And I think a lot of candidates – Republican and Democrat – feel concern about that. But when I know that a lot of those kids look just like my daughters, maybe it’s harder for me to separate myself from their reality. Every time I see those kids, they feel like a part of me.”


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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 February 27, 2007 5:41 PM.

Sweet column: The Bill Clinton factor. Obama repudiates staff hardball tactics. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet blog special: Sandi Jackson, wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. wins aldermanic seat in Chicago. is the next entry in this blog.

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