Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet column: Flying on "Obama One." Obama's pre-kickoff prayer.


ABOARD OBAMA ONE — It’s a few hours after Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid was launched in a telegenic rally on Saturday in Springfield on the square where Abraham Lincoln once walked and worked.

Now the Illinois Democrat, having wrapped up his speech, is aboard his campaign plane. It is an American Airlines 757 charter dubbed by one of the Chicago-based flight attendants “Obama One.”

It’s apt. It may stick.

Iowa, here he comes.

The aircraft is flying over the Illinois prairie headed west toward the state with the leadoff 2008 presidential caucus next January.

Obama is now in a presidential bubble, traveling in motorcades, appearing at events highly organized by squads of “advance’ people.

He is followed on this day by 57 journalists who are wearing “traveling press” tags around their necks. On the plane, the press is seated in the back and the Obama contingent — his wife, Michelle, their two daughters, aides, friends and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — are in the front. The journalists pay for their seats.

Obama triggers a small frenzy when he starts a stroll down the narrow aisle to meet those who will be covering him, some for the next year.

As he starts to shake hands, the photographers and videographers drop their turkey or roast beef sandwiches and leap from the seats. It’s a pileup that never would be tolerated on a commercial flight. Obama gets through only a few rows.

Later, he emerges again, this time plunging through the cameras with Michelle to introduce his wife. Michelle Obama will play a central role in the campaign. She will have her own chief of staff based at the Chicago campaign headquarters and she will be a key surrogate on the speaking and fundraising trail.

“We’re going to make this fun,” Michelle Obama said.

Now Durbin is in the aisle. He is one of Obama’s biggest White House boosters. He was with Obama, his family and some others in a holding area in the Old State Capitol before the rally.

Obama, asked his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to lead them in prayer before he went on stage. Everyone joined hands. “It was a moment you remember,” said Durbin.

It was quiet.

Then Obama said, “Let’s go.”


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The press corps following Obama is just too big to allow for the living-room chats Iowa residents have come to expect in a presidential campaign.

Here at the John F. Kennedy High school, the gym is packed. But at this early phase, people are window shopping. Obama has a ways to go to make the sale.

Scott Benson, 58, a computer consultant, is a Democrat not committed to any of the 2008 hopefuls though he is most interested in Obama and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).

Edwards has made at least 17 visits to Iowa since 2005. Saturday marked Obama’s fourth visit during that same time span. While Obama and Clinton lead in the national polls, in Iowa, Edwards is a major factor.

Sharon McElmeel, a writer, likes Obama because “he has some reasonable solutions. But I also like the same things about (Iowa) Gov. Tom Vilsack.”

Obama, determined to make his a different type of presidential campaign — and to draw a contrast with Clinton — decided not to make a stump speech.

In this town hall, no-fanfare format Obama talks about how he hopes to raise money from the Internet and small donors but the reality is if he does not get money for television ads, he said his White House race “will be a footnote.”

He also framed his unique biography in an interesting way in talking about himself.

Obama — family scattered across the globe, biracial parentage, son of a Kenyan, exposure to Islamic culture as a youth living in Indonesia, raised in Hawaii — if elected would bring a multi-cultural perspective to the Oval Office.

Said the senator, “One of my strengths as a leader is that there is a lot of different pieces of America in me.”

© Copyright 2007 Sun-Times News Group | User Agreement and Privacy Policy


Shame on Barack - an Illinois Senator using American Airlines! Please remind him that United Airlines is based in Chicago, Illinois! If he wants to help workers who lost their retirement from broken promises of their employees - he could help United employees (who lost their pensions) by flying United. Senator you may have lost many votes from Illinois!

If it weren't so tragic, it would be laughable that Obama asks his pastor Jeremiah Wright to lead them in prayer before he makes his big rock star entrance on stage.
If his pastor had any sense, he'd address the black genocide being wrought upon America's poorest communities thanks to Planned Parenthood (

How can these two continue to call themselves men of Christ when they will not defend life at its very conception and at its most vulnerable?

I do not hate Obama & I did believe in him so much so back in 2003 that I was the first Hispanic-American columnist to write about him in Chicago in my regular column in the Chicago Tribune's HOY Spanish language daily. I pasted a copy of the actual newspaper clipping on my blog at

It was truly disappointing to have believed in him & then be let down when he refused to answer my concerns about defending life. As a Catholic, that is what flabbergasts me about Obama, Pelosi, Durbin, Kerry and the rest of the democrats that claim to be Catholics or Christians of the garden variety. HOW COULD THEY CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS WHEN THEY SUPPORT ABORTION?

Between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 Blacks were lynched in the U.S. That number is surpassed in less than 3 days by abortion.

1,452 African-American children are killed each day by the heinous act of abortion.

3 out of 5 pregnant African-American women will abort their child.

Since 1973 there has been over 13 million Black children killed and their precious mothers victimized by the U.S. abortion industry.

In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King said, "The early church brought an end to such things as INFANTICIDE." What would Martin Luther King say to the church today?
The Rev. Jesse Jackson once said:
"That is why the Constitution called us three-fifths human and then whites further dehumanized us by calling us 'niggers'. It was part of the dehumanizing process. The first step was to distort the image of us as human beings in order to justify that which they wanted to do and not even feel like they had done anything wrong. Those advocates of taking life prior to birth do not call it killing or murder, they call it abortion. They further never talk about aborting a baby because that would imply something human. Rather they talk about aborting the fetus. Fetus sounds less than human and therefore abortion can be justified".

Jackson's massive flip-flop on the abortion issue is further proof that his political future (CAN YOU SAY OBAMA?)is far more important to him than are his principles.

With 1/3 of all abortions performed on Black women, the abortion industry has received over 4,000,000,000 (yes, billion) dollars from the Black community.

Thanks Lynn for letting me post on your blog.
May God bless America.

Rey Flores

Maybe with more options,abortions will no longer be needed.There have been great advances in infertility treatments.Shouldn't it be possible to take an embryo from an unwanted pregnancy and place it in the womb of an adoptive mother or her surrogate?If this is currently impossible,then surely this is something we should work night and day on.Shouldn't we at least talk about it?Transferred embryo adoption[t.e.a.?] won't work unless people step up and adopt.Of course if liberals would quit underminining abstinence programs and conservatives would quit undermining birth control programs,there wouldn't be that many unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

to Maryann Szczender: Maryann, why be so picky? Be happy he's using an American owned commercial airline. And not flying around on PRIVATE jets all the time like these other folks (the Gores, the Clintons, the Soros, Jacksons, Edwards, etc.). At least he's not a hypocrite.

to Rey Flores: You are a smart person. And make alot of sense. What I'm really hoping out of Obama is the following. And I wish columnists like Lynn could somehow bring this up. When I see Obama I see the future. Let me explain. The WORLD is changing at an incredible pace. Technology is so superior now that something invented today might be obsolete tomorrow. Its no longer black v. white, jew v.gentile, rich v. poor, and so on. The coming world will be EDUCATED v. NOT AS EDUCATED. Get on board, want to learn, or you'll fall further behind. And please, there will be NO EXCUSES. This is what I hope out of Obama. He's a highly educated man. Gifted in rhetoric and with ideas. The NEW activist. Not the old snake-oil salesman who talks for an hour and says nothing. Who tries to talk using rhymnes, street-slogans, rather then proper diction. Who runs some organization but can't account where all the money has gone. And flies around the world in expensive suits, stays at the best hotels, goes to the best places, sends his own children to the most expensive private schools, yet says he's working for the oppressed. Therefore, I'm hoping Obama is the FUTURE. And can set the example as such. Hopefully, as far as the Black Community goes (and the white seems to be getting into the same mess) he will address the 70% born-out-of-wedlock. Which has totally DESTROYED the Black Community and its future. If only they face reality and realize it. Something has to be done about it. Or they won't have a future. Also, start giving the achievers in school the same recognition that a basketball player or rapper gets. Remember, only one out of sixty thousand high school basketball players will make it to the NBA. I know I'm being blunt, but thats the facts. And I'm already seeing the JEALOUSY of some prominent African-Americans to this Obama love-fest. To his credit, Rev. Jackson, while I'm no real fan of his, appears to be on the senator's bandwagon. The others are being petty and are full of lies. The Cornel West's of the world, who've made profitable livings off the race-card. And some black politicians. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said ,"Obama is TRICKIER than Hillary" and has voted the same. That is a FLAT-OUT LIE. Why aren't the columnists calling her out on this? Hillary voted FOR the war. Obama NEVER DID. And I'm tired of her if I HAD THE RIGHT INFORMATION excuse. I wish the columnists would call her on it. But there too biased too. Her husband was president only a year earlier. And didn't they always say they were a team, when you get one, you get both. Well, that means she had access to the intelligence reports on Iraq. SHE KNEW. Yet, she voted FOR the war. At the very least, wouldn't her husband have told her. Something for everybody to think about. And I say this NOT as a big Obama backer, but as a concerned observer.

The words that I've just read are ridiculous. Every woman should be granted the right to choose what is best for her body. Obama doesn't have the right to say what would be best for me and neither do any of you. If you choose not to support Obama, that's your problem. I can't wait to see him take the oath to be the 44th president of the United States. Hopefully you will take the time to recognize that it is better for you not to judge him, you're not his God, judge or jury!!! Let the Lord decide what's best on judgement day, if you really beleive in God, then you would know that everything is in his hands- Not yours!!! For that I'm grateful...people like you want to decide what path or decisions others should make. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!!!! I'm sure you won't be throwing any.

to Derilyn: Read James Reyes post carefully. I thought he had some good ideas and his comments were excellent.

Go James and John!! I was there on Saturday and heard is eloquent speech. I'm so impressed by him and he knows he has a long road ahead of him and that just because he speaks well and intrigues people he knows he's still got to win people over on the issues! He gives a promise for the future, something we haven't been sure of for a long time. The majority of the crowd on Saturday were young adults and they were ecstatic for him and felt great promise for what great things he could bring for this country! He is intelligent and a great speaker a far cry from the current leader!!

If you see the future in this man, then you must have some extremely rosy glasses. Obama has not said very little yet that would be unpopular with his leftist constituency. I offer you this bit of wisdom: ANY candidate that does not offer some hard and unpopular solutions to the problems in this country is disingenuine. That includes Obama. To the best of my knowledge, Obama was not in the senate at the time of the Iraq war resolution. Of course, he did not vote for it. Politics as usual, folks. You will not find a savior in this man, nor any of the others running. Just hold your nose and vote for the one you dislike the least!

Hi, I am getting tired of opening the suntimes and seeing osamas, I mean obamas picture in the paper.. the man is a candidate running for president just like all the others ...why are we making such a big deal about him?

Maryann Szczender : shame on you for flying American airlines instead of united.. wow maryann wow...shame on barack for everything...shame on barack for walking on this earth...what the hell is wrong with you..he's not jesus....gosh grow up and get education and get a job for you and for you boy friend
...wy would barck be responsible for your mishappenings...America is really going down

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

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

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 11, 2007 7:19 AM.

Obama's presidential announcement speech text was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet field notes: In Obama bubble, No Reporter Left Behind. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.