CHICAGO--Once again, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) asserted--this time during Wednesday's Democratic debate--that he was risking his political career back in 2002 when spoke out against the Iraq War as he was getting into a primary race for a Senate seat from Illinois. Coming out against the war then was a boost for his election--because the anti-war Democratic activists in Illinois --with a number of influential people in their ranks--rallied around Obama. During the debate moderator Tim Russert, noting that Obama has no landmark legislation asked why he was running after about 33 months in the Senate. "Why does it make sense now?"
Obama said basically it is because the country needs him. Obama's answer is yet another example of how Obama is casting himself as the consensus candidate. Obama also made an interesting language adjustment. The issue is not his experience, he said, it is his "experiences" that make him ready to lead.
click below for the exchange...
. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, I asked Senator Clinton about
experience in judgment. You have served in the U.S. Senate about 33
months. You have no landmark legislation as such that you have
offered. When you were elected back in 2004, you said, quote, "The
notion that somehow I am going to start running for higher office, it
just doesn't make sense."
If it didn't make sense in 2004, why does it make sense now?
SEN. OBAMA: Because I think that the country is at a crossroads
right now and it needs three things. Number one, it needs somebody
who can bring the country together, and that's the kind of experience
that I bring to this office. When I was in the state legislature, I
was able to get people who were polar opposites -- police officers and
law enforcement working with civil rights advocates to reform a death
penalty system that was broken; bringing people together, Republicans
and Democrats, to provide health insurance to people who didn't have
it. That's number one.
Number two, we need somebody who can take on the special
interests and win. And I have consistently done that. On money in
politics, in the state legislature I passed landmark ethics
legislation against not just Republicans but also some of the leaders
in my own party. I did the same thing working with Russ Feingold with
the ethics reform package that we passed last year.
And the third thing is telling the truth to the American people
even when it's tough, which I did in 2002, standing up against this
war at a time where it was very unpopular. And I was risking my
political career, because I was in the middle of a U.S. Senate race.
Now, those are, I think, the kinds of experiences that people are
looking for right now in this country, and that's the kind of
experience I bring to bear to this race.