Chicago Sun-Times
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January 2008 Archives

HOLLYWOOD-- Barack Obama, hit with accusations he snubbed Hillary Rodham Clinton at Monday's State of the Union address, dispenses with the issue at the top of the Democratic debate on Thursday.

" I also want to note that I was friends with Hillary Clinton before we started this campaign," Obama said.

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Inside the Democratic debate press filing center(a bar, converted for the night) at the Kodak Theater. My Chicago Sun-Times colleague Mary Mitchell is in the center of the photo. (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

HOLLYWOOD--There is a little time before the Democratic debate starts, so let me digress from politics and tell you the kick I just got from checking out the inside of the Kodak Theater, the home of the Academy Awards.

LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton meet Thursday at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood—the same place where the Academy Awards are hosted—to meet in their first two-way debate.

“There are a lot of people in these Feb. 5 states who might be watching to a higher degree than they have in the past because they will be voting in five days,” said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, who just wrapped up a conference call with reporters.


WASHINGTON--John Edwards is dropping his presidential bid, deciding he had little chance of being resurrected on Feb. 5 "Super Tuesday" votes. Meanwhile, Caroline Kennedy, who already cut a commerical spot for Barack Obama is traveling with him on Wednesday to rallies in Denver and Arizona.

Who does this help? Edwards departure cuts both ways for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

Here's why.


Barack Obama poses for a picture with a cousin; summer, 2006 at an Illinois Breakfast in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--In El Dorado, Kansas on Tuesday, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), talked about his maternal grandparents--a reminder that when race comes up in the campaign, Obama has a complex story to tell.

Fox News' Bonney Kapp has a terrific video with an interview of one of Obama's grandmother's cousins at the El Dorado event. LINK

WASHINGTON--My colleague Chris Fusco has the story LINK,rezkocash012908.article about how Barack Obama decided to return all Rezko related campaign cash.

WASHINGTON--Caroline Kennedy backs her endorsement of Barack Obama in a spot released Tuesday. Script after the jump.

WASHINGTON--Barack Obama, asked Tuesday about whether he snubbed Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State of the Union said no, he did not.

" I was surprised by the reports this morning. There was a photograph in the Times about me sort of turning away. I was turning away because Claire asked me a question as Senator Kennedy was reaching for me. Senator Clinton and I have had very cordial relations off the floor and on the floor. I waved at her as I was coming in to the Senate into the Senate chamber before we walked over last night.

"There is a lot more tea leaf reading going on here than I think people are suggesting."

(A list of the Kennedy family members at the Obama rally is at the end of this column.)

WASHINGTON — Two generations of Kennedys — Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), and niece Caroline — provided Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with powerful testimonials Monday when they appeared together and said he could be a president in the mold of John F. Kennedy.

WASHINGTON--The Obama campaign has gotten around to forming a pool to cover some Barack Obama events and it was my turn on Tuesday night; the national pool is alphabetical order by news outlet. As it happened, the event I pooled was an Obama fund-raiser. There is progress on the Obama disclosure front. I was given, when requested, a copy of the invitation with the hosts names. The funder was headlined by Obama, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and Sen. John Kerry, who was with his wife, Teresa.

Click below for the report.

WASHINGTON--Bill Clinton hits one of his favorite Chicago spots, 437 Rush, owned by pal Phil Stefani, on Tuesday for a fund-raiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On Wednesday, the former president stumps at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; it's near a St. Louis media market (for the Missouri vote) and is part of Downstate where the New York senator may pick up some Illinois delegates.

Sweet: State of the Union

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Text of the State of the Union

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(photos by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON---"I know that he's ready to be president on day one,' said Sen.Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in endorsing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president, turning a line Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) uses against her.

With Kennedy was son Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and niece Caroline Kennedy. "Your mother and father would be so proud of you today," Sen. Kennedy said to Caroline.

WASHINGTON--When Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and niece Caroline Kennedy endorse Barack Obama here in a few hours, add Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) to the picture. Patrick, the son of Ted, cousin of Caroline, will also be endorsing Obama.

WASHINGTON -- Democratic icon Sen. Ted Kennedy will endorse Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president today, passing him a generational torch at a rally here attended by his niece, Caroline Kennedy, and handing a disappointment to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

The endorsement of the Kennedys -- Caroline, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, announced her support for Obama in a Sunday New York Times column -- comes as the highly aspirational Obama campaign has been drawing parallels with President Kennedy and seeking a claim on his inspirational legacy to the nation.

WASHINGTON--The Obama Illinois campaign, in advance of the Feb. 5 balloting--where the Clinton team is making a run for Illinois delegates--is ramping up, with all the top Democratic office holders stumping for Barack Obama starting on Monday with one exception--Gov. Blagojevich. There's just too much heat on Blagojevich.


German author Christoph von Marschall, based in Washington, just published "Barack Obama: The Black Kennedy" drawing comparisons between Obama and JFK, who on June 26, 1963 said "As a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner." (photo by Lynn Sweet)

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Bill Clinton, criss-crossing the country as a mega-surrogate for his wife as the “Super Tuesday” Feb. 5 votes loom in Illinois and 22 other states, hits Chicago on Tuesday night and Wednesday to stump and raise money for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Clinton was supposed to appear herself at a Tuesday fund-raiser, but Bill may fill in for her.

Meanwhile, ABC News, Susan Milligan of the Boston Globe LINK and other outlets are reporting that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) will endorse Obama Monday at a rally in Washington D.C. on the campus of American University (near my house, I can walk to it!). This comes a day after landing JFK daughter Caroline's backing.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — For years, Barack Obama has simmered over the notion — based in some reality — that he won his U.S. Senate seat from Illinois because of a series of flukes. Denied New Hampshire and Nevada by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama wanted a South Carolina victory to prove that his Iowa win was not a fluke.

COLUMBIA, S.C.--Barack Obama clinched the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday after a race with a nasty tone where former President Bill Clinton's aggresive push for his wife became an issue.

UPDATE Obama, seeking to inherit the Kennedy mantle, wins the endorsement of Caroline Kennedy. LINK

Excerpt from her New York Times op ed about Obama where she passes a torch to him

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."

In a state where race played a role, and with a hefty black electorate, exit polls showed that Obama snared a whooping 81 per cent of the African-American vote and the white splitting between the three rivals.

COLUMBIA, S.C.—The Obama press corps on Saturday gravitated towards the Liberty Tap Room & Grill, next door to the hotel where the Obamas’ and top staffers are staying. When I walked in to meet a New York-based colleague for lunch, I saw a few staffers for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and then spotted Clinton herself working the room on election day, with her full press corps in tow.

Clinton schmoozed, asked people to vote if they had not yet, seemed in no hurry and organized photo shoots of herself with folks while the Obama and Clinton journalists mingled. She asked one eater she sensed was too shy to ask, “want a picture?’’ At one table she discussed the relative merits of Maryland crab cakes.

COLUMBIA, S.C.—The South Carolina Democratic presidential primary Saturday is the first test of the clout of a southern state in determining who the nominee is and the first contest where race has been a major factor.

It is also the place where Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was exposed to the full firepower of the whole Clinton package — Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), an aggressive former President Bill Clinton and Chelsea, stepping out more than she did in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Once Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton uttered the name “Rezko” at a Democratic presidential debate last Monday, she moved to center stage and shined a spotlight on Tony Rezko, facing a Feb. 25 trial on federal corruption charges.

Sen. Barack Obama’s long relationship with Rezko is a major political problem for him in the primary, and in the general election if he wins the nomination.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Former President Bill Clinton's job is to close the deal for his wife, and in a direct appeal for African-American votes in a radio spot aptly titled "Closer" released Thursday, he says Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is the one who has "always heard your voice."

Sweet: South Carolina

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At a Barack Obama rally in South Carolina Jan. 24, 2008
(Photo by Lynn Sweet)

BEAUFORT, S.C.--Barack Obama taped a top ten list for David Letterman this afternoon after a vetarans round table at the University of South Carolina campus here.

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(photo by Lynn Sweet)

KINGSTREE, S.C.—White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will have an availability after he finishes speaking at the Kingstree High School here, and told voters in the Saturday primary. “Don’t let them bamboozle you with these dirty tricks.”

Sweet: The Tony Rezko primer.

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FLORENCE, S.C.--My Chicago Sun-Times colleague Tim Novak tells you the eight things you need to know to understand the Barack Obama/Tony Rezko storyline. LINK

My other colleague, Mark Brown, a Sun-Times columinist, calls for Obama to come clean about Rezko. LINK

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Rita Moore-Johnson, whose 77-year-old father is not sure if he will vote for Barack Obama.

DILLON, S.C. -- The matter of race, specifically African Americans in South Carolina voting for White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), was not a subtext Wednesday, as it sometimes is.
"My dad is 77 years old, and he is an African American," Rita Moore-Johnson, 45, a medical lab technician, told Obama at a forum at Winthrop University at Rock Hill. "And I think, based on his history and his ignorance, he is undecided because he feels like maybe a black candidate would not be able to do what you need to do in Washington to get change done. ... What can I tell him and people like him, in a small sentence, that would change his mind?"

Obama is trying to rally his African-American base and get white voters in a place where the Confederate flag still flies from the statehouse grounds.

Obama's campaign produced this pamphlet to address rumors he is a Muslim.


ROCK HILL, S.C.---White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is speaking now (Wednesday morning) at Winthrop University, heading here from Columbia after interviews on morning shows. The campaign booked the shows to focus on an economic message, but the matter of his relationship with the tainted Tony Rezko came up when he talked to ABC and CBS. Rezko is awaiting a Feb. 25 trial on fraud charges involving a state of Illinois teachers pension fund.

The trial, however, comes after questionable dealings have been talked about in Chicago political circles for years. It was no secret that Rezko might be involved in shady stuff. Except to Obama. Here’s what he said to ABC’s “Good Morning America’s” Diane Sawyer, who asked him about Rezko.

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- For the second day in a row, White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has prodded chief rival Sen. Barack Obama about his relationship with a former career political patron and friend, Tony Rezko, who is facing a Feb. 25 federal criminal trial in Chicago on public corruption and fraud charges involving state of Illinois teacher pension funds.

GREENVILLE, S.C.—Barack Obama has finished many a speech with the cry Fired Up! Ready to Go. On Tuesday afternoon, Obama travels to Greenwood, S.C. for a rally in the home of Edith Childs, a county councilwoman whose trademark cheerleading cry Obama borrowed for his presidential campaign.

Obama, as he has often recalled-- but less so latel, when he dragged out the story last Friday at a University of Nevada-Las Vegas rally promised to visit out-of-the way Greenwood after meeting state Rep. Anne Parks last spring.

Tuesday developing storylines from the Barack Obama presidential campaign; spillover from the acrimony-filled debate Monday night as both Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton talk about the sinking economy:

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton brawled Monday night during a tension-filled debate here in advance of Saturday's South Carolina primary, where John Edwards joined with Clinton in pummeling Obama about his present votes while a state senator in Illinois.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.—Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton brawled Monday night during a tension-filled debate here in advance of Saturday’s South Carolina primary, where John Edwards joined with Clinton in pummeling Obama about his present votes while a state senator in Illinois.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.—The Chicago Sun-Times has learned that White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has already scheduled fund-raisers this week in states with big Feb. 5 contests—and will be spending less time in South Carolina, where Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is the favorite to win the balloting on Saturday.

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COLUMBIA, S.C.--The South Carolina Democratic primary is Saturday. John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at a NAACP rally at the steps of the South Carolina statehouse on a frigid Monday, hours before a debate in Myrtle Beach. (photos by Lynn Sweet)

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Obama and Edwards at the rally on the steps of the statehouse.

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Clinton at the rally on the steps of the statehouse

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are stumping in South Carolina ahead of Saturday's primary vote here, with the Obama camp intent on neutralizing Clinton's chief surrogate, her husband, Bill, as he takes on the role of her negative hit man.

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(photos by Lynn Sweet) At King tomb and historical site across the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta. Ga.

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Barack Obama speaks at the home church of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday.

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Barack Obama singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing"

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(photos by Lynn Sweet)

ATLANTA, GA.—It’s a cold day this Sunday in Atlanta, so frigid (not by Chicago standards) that many churches have closed. Here at the famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, the home pulpit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the place is packed. That’s because speaking today is White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

LAS VEGAS -- Boisterous supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama -- wearing uniforms marking them as chefs, maids or pit dealers, or the civilian clothes of busty waitresses off duty, or T-shirts with union names -- streamed into a cavernous ballroom at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort and Casino on Saturday for the Democratic caucus.

They each took sides -- like at a wedding: Who invited you, the bride or groom? -- and proceeded to raucously shout each other down before the caucus was called to order. In the end, the results mirrored the state: just about split between Obama and Clinton.

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(photos by Lynn Sweet)

LAS VEGAS, NV.--Raucus Obama and Clinton supporters faced off at caucus at the Wynn Hotel at the Saturday caucus. In the end, the decision was split at this casino precinct: Hillary Rodham Clinton won 189 votes and 38 delegates. Barack Obama won 187 votes and 37 delegates. Statewide, Clinton won 51 percent of the vote to 45 percent for Obama. On the GOP side, Mitt Romney scored a decisive win.

LAS VEGAS, NV.--Seven Democratic Jewish senators—none who have endorsed a Democratic presidential contender --signed an “open letter to the Jewish community” asking their fellow Jews to reject “false and malicious attacks” being circulated about White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who throughout his run has had to refute rumors he is a Muslim.

“Over the past several weeks, many in the Jewish community have received hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo about Senator Barack Obama's religion and attack him personally,” said the letter, whose lead signer is Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI.)

LAS VEGAS — Friday night, before the Nevada caucuses meet at 11 a.m. Saturday, White House hopeful Barack Obama is at the University of Nevada campus here, telling a mainly student crowd — not a packed courtyard at the outdoor rally — about the “fierce battle” he’s in and how important it is to reach out to Republicans and independents.

LAS VEGAS, NV.--Excerpts from talk White House hopeful Barack Obama delievered at a dinner Friday at Caesar's Palace celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with a mainly African-American audience. On Sunday, leading into the King weekend, Obama speaks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta before heading to South Carolina, where African-Americans could make up at least half of the Democratic primary vote.

“I understand that many of you are still a little skeptical. You’re not as skeptical as you were before Iowa…Sometimes, ah I got to be careful here, sometimes it takes other folks before we believe in ourselves.

LAS VEGAS, NV.— When third-party independent expenditure campaigns ran in Iowa to help John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama strongly denounced the spending.

Now third-party ads are running in Nevada that could be helpful to Obama-- by Unite Here, Obama’s first national union endorsement. Obama heads into the Saturday caucus vote with political muscle provided by the unions local, Culinary Local 226.

John Edwards is asking Obama to denounce the ads; so is Clinton’s team.

LAS VEGAS, NV.--The Clinton campaign, a little late in the game, continues to complain about voting in nine at-large precincts in hotel casinos where the workers are represented by a union backing Barack Obama. Here's Clinton chief pollster Mark Penn's memo, which gives Obama a five point running start because of the at-large voting.

A Clinton friendly teachers union tried and failed in their lawsuit to shut down the casino precincts, but a federal judge sided with the Nevada state party and the Culinary Union. Clinton claimed her fingerprints weren't on the lawsuit, but she--and Bill--sure agreed with it.

Click for Penn memo...

LAS VEGAS, NV.—Barack Obama is taking flak on Friday from rivals Hillary Clinton and to a lesser degree John Edwards for invoking the name of Ronald Reagan during a session with the Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board.

LAS VEGAS -- Native daughter Hillary Rodham Clinton is sending in staff to help land some delegates in the Feb. 5 Illinois primary, ramping up an operation in the Land of Obama because the name of the game in winning the Democratic presidential nomination is collecting delegates.

(this is a longer version of the print column)

LAS VEGAS, NV.---Yucca Mountain is a battle cry in this state.

Congress has been wrestling for years over whether nuclear waste from other states—Illinois is one of them, with leftovers from power generating nuclear reactors—should be stored at Yucca.

Nevadans, to put it mildly, are against designating Yucca as a permanent waste repository, putting the state at odds with the Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, the nations’ largest nuclear operator, supporting a Yucca dump.

Yucca is more than a hot button issue here. Yucca is radioactive.

COMPTON, CALIF.---Hillary Rodham Clinton is speaking right now at the Citizens of Zion Missionary Baptist Church, heavy economic message not unlike the one Barack Obama had in Van Nuys yesterday--how to help people loosing homes because of the sub prime mortgage crisis.

Developments so far:
*Clinton-alied unions loose bid in court to shut down casino hotel precincts in Nevada caucus votes. Win for Nevada Dem party, Obama and Culinary Workers union endorsing him--the casino precincts are in the union hotels.
*Obama campaign concerned about Clinton radio ad running in Nevada hitting him for taking contributions from Exelon. (It's about $192,000 and I will try to have more to say about this later. Exelon is a Chicago based company involved in pushing to have a nuclear waste storage site in Yucca Mountain, a radioactive issue in Nevada. Obama, Clinton and John Edwards are against using Yucca for nuke storage.)

SANTA MONICA, CALIF.--Chicago attorney Richard S. Williamson, the new special envoy for Sudan met with President Bush on Thursday. His job is to help stop the genocidal killings in the Darfur region.

"Once you label it "genocide" you obviously have to do something about it," Bush said.

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Sign taped to lightpost directing Obama donors to parking lot in Pacific Palisades.

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The scene at Obama fund-raiser Thursday night outside of the home of co-host David Fisher.
(photos by Lynn Sweet)

PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIF.--In a wooded area near the ocean, up in the hills of Rustic Canyon, cars, limos and shuttles ferrying donors from a parking lot jamed the road in front of the home of David Fisher, a co-host on Wednesday night of a ritzy fund-raiser for White House hopeful Barack Obama. The car valets wore white uniforms.

Obama, facing a Nevada caucus vote on Saturday, flew here after a stumping in Henderson, Nevada for a roundtable discussion on the economy in Van Nuys, followed by a meeting with the Los Angeles Times editorial board and topped with the $2,300-a-person fund-raiser he would prefer the press not cover. On Thursday Obama hits the Bay area for more campaigning, fund-raising and a session with the San Francisco Chronicle.

HENDERSON, NV.---At a town hall meeting here, Barack Obama is calling for change in how business is done in Washington. Yet later in the day, when he flies to California for a series of fund-raisers and other campaign events, he still refuses to disclose all his fund-raising activities or who is hosting events for him

Sweet: New Nevada Obama ad

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LAS VEGAS -- Careful not to rekindle a controversy over race, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama said Tuesday at a Democratic presidential debate here -- on the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. -- that they would rein in their aides and supporters.

After the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, reporters circle around Obama chief strategist David Axelrod in the "Spin Room."
(Photo by Lynn Sweet)

LAS VEGAS, NV.--Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton differ over how a president approaches the job. Obama sees himself as the big picture guy while Clinton sees herself as the master over the govenment machinery.

LAS VEGAS, NV.--Barack Obama was asked about a variety of smears about him circulating on the Internet.
" I am a Christian. I have been sworn in with a Bible," he said.

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Outside the Cashman Center in Las Vegas, site of Democratic debate (photos by Lynn Sweet)

LAS VEGAS, NV.--Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton went out of their way at the start of a Democratic debate here to put behind them the racial acrimony that threatened to divide Democrats.

LAS VEGAS, NV.—Following a column in Tuesday’s Washington Post titled “Obama’s Farrakhan Test,” noting that a magazine linked to Obama’s minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, honored Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Barack Obama said he condemned “the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan” and disagreed with a decision to honor him.

LAS VEGAS -- With the explosive issue of race relations threatening to divide Democrats -- at issue whether remarks by the Clintons and some surrogates were racially insensitive -- presidential rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton separately on Monday said enough is enough.

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The view near the Centennial Hills Community Center, where former President Bill Clinton stumped Monday for his wife. (photos by Lynn Sweet)

LAS VEGAS, NV.--In a series of network interviews and at a press conference in Reno on Monday, Barack Obama sought to put the brakes on the growing conversation--in the political media--about whether remarks by the Clintons and some surrogates were racially insensitive.

Former President Bill Clinton was up at 4 a.m. on Monday to call into three radio shows with African-American audiences to do-- I'm calling it damage control for lack of a better phrase.

Meanwhile, by the end of the day, both Obama and Clinton tried, in statements, to get the emphasis away from race. Obama called a press conference because, he said, "I wanted to take the time to talk to all of you a little bit because I have been a little concerned about the type of campaign you have heard over the last couple of days."

LAS VEGAS, NV.—White House hopeful Barack Obama suggested Sunday that allies of Hillary Clinton were behind a federal lawsuit aimed at closing down voting sites in Obama-friendly casinos on this city’s famous strip.

In a novel deal worked out in advance with the Nevada Democratic party, nine hotels—whose workers are represented by the Culinary Workers local 226—will serve as “at-large” precincts for strip employees who can’t get home for the caucus this Saturday.

obamakerryjan102008 At the Culinary Workers headquarters in Las Vegas before a canvass for Barack Obama. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

PAHRUMP, NV.--Waiting for Barack Obama to show up for a town hall meeting, in this town around 60 miles from Las Vegas and not far from Yucca Mountain (One would think Obama is going to say something about the proposed nuclear dump site; Nevada has been fighting it for years). We're also not far from the Chicken Ranch and Sherries, another brothel. I wonder who will get the Democratic brothel vote in the Saturday caucus.

WASHINGTON — White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is making transparency a centerpiece of his presidential bid, will now put on his schedule fund-raisers if they are in a public place, a campaign spokesman said Friday.

The move comes after I wrote last Tuesday in my blog how Obama was starting another round of fund-raising without releasing details — this time about events in New York, Boston and Chicago — and after the campaign was asked by the Obama traveling press corps to open fund-raisers to the press and disclose the names of hosts and amounts raised.

Sweet: New Edwards "roots" ad.

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WASHINGTON--Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is endorsing Barack Obama for president.

The campaign had been anticipating her support. Another endorsement timed to influence an upcoming election--in this case the thought is Napolitano will have sway in neighboring Nevada, with a caucus on Jan. 19.

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- On a warm Thursday at a historic campus where moss hung from trees, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) picked up a major endorsement from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 presidential nominee.

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John Kerry endorsing Barack Obama at The College of Charleston (photos by Lynn Sweet)

CHARLESTON, S.C.--In endorsing Barack Obama, 2004 Democratic nominee JohnKerry said, "Martin Luther King said “the time is always right to do what is right”. And I’m here in South Carolina because this is the right time to share with you my confidence that the next President of the United States should be, can be, and will be Barack Obama."

Kerry addressed Obama's experience deficit by saying "When we chose a president we are electing judgement and character and not years on earth."

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his campaign are taking the unexpected loss in New Hampshire to chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) "as maybe the wake-up call our supporters need."

That's according to Obama deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, the architect of Obama's Iowa field organization, crucial to his Jan. 3 caucus win. Now Hildebrand is camped in South Carolina through the Jan. 26 primary here.

updated at 11:47 a.m. eastern time

CHARLESTON, S.C.--White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) picks up his third Senate endorsement on Thursday--of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) the 2004 Democratic nominee, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Thursday. Kerry will be joining Obama at a rally here at the College of Charleston this morning on a campus where moss is hanging from the oak and magnolia trees. Credit AP for the scoop.

Some endorsements don't get much notice--some have some juice and this is one of them The Kerry endorsement is very big big. It's a rejection by Kerry of his 2004 running mate, former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).

It is surgically timed.

Kerry's nod comes as the South Carolina primary is heating up--the only state Edwards won in 2004 and his last gasp to keep his candidacy alive. Kerry may be very useful to help shore up Obama on what has been his chronic weakness this year--questions by voters about his experience. Kerry vouching for Obama means a lot. It is also a bit of a snub to Clinton. It also helps push the New Hampshire loss into memory.

The biggest prize for the candidate who is setting himself as the heir apparent to John F. Kennedy Jr. is Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and he has not tipped his hand yet. It may be that he will now that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) dropped out of the presidential race.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Barack Obama wins a major Nevada endorsement from the Culinary Workers of America. The union represents workers in the state's casinos and strips.

Very big deal. Nevada is a caucus state.

Workers in Las Vegas will be able to vote from work--not from home precincts.

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama Tuesday lost the front-runner title he held for five days when chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton stunned him by winning the New Hampshire presidential primary.

After Obama thumped Clinton in Iowa, he landed here so optimistic about his chances of becoming the 44th president of the United States that I thought the soaring, inspirational speeches I heard -- covering everything from slavery to global warming -- were dress rehearsals for his January 2009 inaugural address.

"I can beat all of them," boasted Obama.

Obama decided not to worry about raising expectations because he had healthy leads in every New Hampshire poll and was drawing overflowing crowds, as Clinton seemed in a tailspin.

His aides were so certain of victory (by at least five points) that they scheduled a rally in New Jersey for today, optimistically pushing into the media market serving three delegate-rich states -- New Jersey, Connecticut and Clinton's New York -- with Feb. 5 primaries.

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his campaign are taking the unexpected loss in New Hampshire to chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) "as maybe the wake-up call our supporters need."

MANCHESTER, N.H.-- Tension in Obamaville.

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Listening to Barack Obama at rally at Dartmouth College on Tuesday: Hollywood superagent Ari Emauel (brother of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.); actor/writer Larry David and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington.
(Photo by Lynn Sweet)

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On the eve of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, Clinton friends, actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen joined a party of Clinton supporters in Des Moines. On the left is Clinton volunteer Lori Kreloff, a Chicago native whose father, Mike Kreloff, the Northfield Township Democratic Committeeman is an Obama backer. Clinton supporter David Jones is a consultant in Washington. (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

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Barack Obama and wife Michelle at New Hampshire wrap-up rally Monday night in Concord.
(Photo by Lynn Sweet)

MANCHESTER, N.H.--White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was asked about Bill Clinton's comments that he has gotten a free pass from the media on Tuesday, while stopping at a Dunkin' Donuts on election day in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

"I understand he's feeling a little frustrated right now," said Obama.

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(Photos by Lynn Sweet)

LEBANON, N.H.—With two presidential votes behind him, Democratic frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)) starts a new round of fund-raisers in New York, Boston and Chicago as the candidate who is making transparency a centerpiece of his White House bid continues to with-hold details of his higher-end fund-raising operation.

ROCHESTER, N.H. -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) unwittingly handed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) a powerful closing argument for New Hampshire voters when she talked about raising "false hopes" during Saturday's debate. Obama, aiming a verbal arrow at Clinton's heart and soul, rallied his supporters on Monday with a cry, "False hope? There is no such thing!"

Sweet: Obama wins Dixville Notch

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CONCORD, N.H.--(Aboard the Obama traveling press bus) Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt just announced the results of the voting at Dixville Notch, the tiny northern New Hampshire town that votes first in the first primary state.

Dixville Notch starting voting at midnight and the results are
Obama 7
Edwards 2
Richardson 1
Clinton 0

and on the GOP side
McCain 4

Sweet: Obama New London photo op

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jan72008 006


Barack Obama stops at Jack's of New London, a cosy cafe on a quaint street to buy some tea, shake some hands and pose for a few pictures (photo by Lynn Sweet)

LEBANON, N.H.--A doctor was called to examine White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) late Sunday night admists concerns from the front-running Democratic candidate and his staff that his hoarseness did not signal a more serious medical condition.

A doctor arrived at a Best Western inn in Keene shortly after Obama's motorcade, including two buses with his traveling bus corps arrived sometime after 10 p.m. The press was not notified about the doctors visit.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said the doctor was call as a "precaution... to check on the senators voice and to make sure there was nothing else."

jan72008 002The day before the New Hampshire primary Barack Obama reminds a youthful audience at the gym in Stevens High School in Claremont, N.H. to vote on Tuesday. "One more day," he says. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

CLAREMONT, N.H.--At the start of a long campaign day, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), poised to win the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday and go on to clinch the nomination and presidency, reminds a youthful crowd in a high school that they actually have to vote.

"Do not take this race for granted," Obama said, still hoarse as he has been for several days. "...We have not won anything yet."

He said he consulted a doctor about his throat yesterday and the physicians' prescription was "shut up." Obama said he can't do that.

KEENE, N.H. -- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is increasingly confident he will win Tuesday's primary here, the Democratic nomination and be elected president -- bolstered by new polls handing him a decisive lead and big crowds coming out to hear him speak.

"Something is stirring out there," Obama said at his final stop Sunday, where he filled a hall in a school, with the overflow spilling into an auditorium.

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Obama at a rally Sunday at Exeter High School, Exeter NH. (photos by Lynn Sweet)

DERRY, N.H.—Barack Obama’s retooled stump speech added a new element on Sunday, courtesy an opening chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton put in his lap in Saturday’s debate when she talked about “false hope.”

That kind of talk just “bugs the heck” out of him.

What was she thinking?

MANCHESTER, N.H.--Barack Obama is speaking to another packed house--a theater here with a capacity of about 850. Later today, Obama will pick up the endorsement of former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) whose own 2000 insurgent presidential bid folded when he was bested for the nomination by Vice President Gore.

Bradley is expected to be influential among Independents and Republicans. With the New Hampshire primary in two days Independents may be key to the vote. But Bradley lost independents to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2000 and McCain is running again, with his campaign--left for dead last year--in a position to do well in New Hampshire.

Quick observation: Obama loves to play pick-up basketball. Bradley is aBasketball Hall of Famer and played for the New York Knicks.

In a statement issued through the Obama campaign, Bradley said, “Barack Obama is building a broad new coalition that brings together Democrats, Independents, and Republicans by once again making idealism a central focus of our politics,” said Senator Bradley. “Because of his enormous appeal to Americans of all ages and backgrounds, Obama is the candidate best positioned to win in November"

Bradley lost here when he ran--independents he expected to tap instead swarmed to another insurgent of the day--Sen. John McCain (R-Az.)

GOFFSTOWN, N.H. -- Back-to-back GOP and Democrat presidential debates Saturday provided a preview of how newly minted Democratic front-runner Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will be fileted by the GOP if he is the Democratic nominee.

The double-header came as Obama is poised to win the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary after scoring a decisive victory last week in the Iowa Democratic caucus. A new WMUR poll is showing he is closing the gap with chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY.), and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) may end up in third.

GOFFSTOWN, N.H.--The GOP presidential debate is providing a preview of how White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will be fileted if he is the Democratic nominee. All the Republicans slammed the newly minted frontrunner as either too inexperienced or too liberal or both. They are doing what would be unthinkable by any of Obama's Democratic rivals: calling him unqualified to be president practically to his face. They collectively provided the summation of what the Republican case against Obama would include.

The attacks showcases a point Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has been making since the start of the campaign: that no Democratic contender will be immune from GOP attacks, even Obama, who has soared on his popular "why can't we all get along" message.

As Clinton considers an aggressive assault on Obama's record--a very dicey proposition for he since Obama will just say she is going negative, which voters don't like--she has the GOP to thank for doing her heavy lifting.

jan52008 (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

The filing center at Saint Anselm College this evening just before the 7 p.m. eastern start of a debate double header--Republicans first and then the Democrats. This is a giant filing center, attracting so many outlets because every major contender is here tonight.

GOFFSTOWN, N.H.---Right now, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is on a trajectory to win the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary--if he does not make a mistake at tonight's debate, where chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is expected to be particularly aggressive.

NASHUA, N.H.-- Fox News host Bill O'Reilly got into a confrontation with an Obama aide after O'Reilly started screaming at him as he tried to get Barack Obama's attention following a rally here. O'Reilly eventually did chat briefly with Obama and asked him to be a guest on his show.

The incident was triggered when O'Reilly--with a Fox News crew shooting--was screaming at Obama National Trip Director Marvin Nicholson "Move" so he could get Obama's attention, according to several eyewitnesses. "O'Reilly was yelling at him, yelling at his face," a photographer shooting the scene said.

O'Reilly grabbed Nicholson's arm and shoved him, another eyewitness said. Nicholson, who is 6'8, said O'Reilly called him "low class."

"He grabbed me with both his hands here," Nicholson said, gesturing to his left arm and O'Reilly "started shoving me." Nicholson said, " He was pretty upset. He was yelling at me."

Secret Service agents who were nearby flanked O 'Reilly after he pushed Nicholson. They told O'Reilly he needed to calm down and get behind the fence-like barricade that contained the press.

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Sugar meets Sweet. Sugar is a three-year-old black lab who has been in the bomb-sniffing work her entire life. The traveling press corps for the past two days had their gear "swept," or checked out by dogs at the start of the day. (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

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The line outside the Nashua North High School Saturday morning, waiting for the doors to open for an Obama rally (photo by Lynn Sweet)

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Inside the Nashua North gym near 10 a.m. (Photo by Lynn Sweet)

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Inside the Nashua North gym near 10:20 a.m. (time lapse photography by Lynn Sweet)

NASHUA, N.H. — Hillary Clinton, scrambling to recover from a disappointing third place in Iowa and facing a Tuesday primary vote here, said front-runner Barack Obama needs more scrutiny as she puts more focus on her chief rival.

This comes as Clinton is retooling in the wake of her photo finish with John Edwards, who won bragging rights for second, though only a fraction separated their results.

CONCORD, N.H.--I'm in the gym at the Concord High School, packed, packed with a youthful audience here to see Barack Obama; so many showed up they were supposed to be taken to an overflow room. Obama is the last of 11 presidential candidates who have stumped at the school during this cycle, ending Jan. 8 with the primary vote.

Meanwhile, the John Edwards campaign, bragging about beating Hillary Rodham Clinton, issued a "state of the race" memo (in full after the click) slamming Obama and Clinton for being "celebrity candidates" who spent $200 million against him.

Near the end of the Iowa campaign, Edwards started to toughen his criticism of Obama for taking money from federal lobbyists and political action committees in his election races, only stopping when he started running for president. Edwards was not able to really communicate his point so far that he doesn't think much of Obama's conversion to a higher standard only for his presidential bid.

" The January 8th New Hampshire primary will be an election – not an auction. Just look at the results of the first contest: two celebrity candidates spend $200 million against a candidate who’s got an unstoppable message of fighting for the middle class. Despite unprecedented resources spent by our opponents, Edwards is standing strong – without taking a dime of campaign money from PACs or Washington lobbyists," the memo said.

Edwards has a weaker organization here than Obama or Clinton but he is going to get help from the United Steelworkers of America and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. The group of SEIU state councils will be pouring $1.5 million into the Feb. 5 states, but the flip side of that is Obama will accuse Edwards--as he did in Iowa--of taking special interest money from the third parties and is therefore a hypocrite. By the way, Obama has said he will take this special interest money if he is the Democratic nominee and will disarm only if the GOP nominee does.

Back to the gym with Obama...he is winding up...

"This is our moment. This is our time," Obama is telling this very young crowd ,finding his rhythm..."if all the young people here decide this is our moment to make our mark in history....(add a string of things Obama saysto make the world a better place)..if you want to reach for that, in four days time you will have a chance."

Obama is really underscoring his pitch that he will to Democrats, Independents and Republicans, a message that's important in a state with a large number of independent voters. (That's why Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Ct.) cross-vover endorsement of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is a potential big deal here.

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Barack Obama points out an undecided voter at a rally Friday morning in an airplane hangar in Portsmouth, N.H. to organizer Matt Devine. "We're coming after you," he said to the undecided. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

jan42008 002 Obama asked for a show of hands of undecides. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

PORTSMOUTH, NH.-"If you give me the same chance Iowa gave me last night," White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told a crowd here, his first stop after winning the Iowa caucus, "I truly believe I will be president of the United States."

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A year ago Barack Obama was winding up his second year in the U.S. Senate. Now, his big win Thursday night in Iowa catapulted him to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president with chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton coming in third.

How did Obama win in Iowa? "The basic premise of the campaign was clear from the beginning," said chief strategist David Axelrod.

jan32008 022 Obama talking to reporters on his charter plane from Iowa to New Hampshire; communications chief Robert Gibbs behind him. (photo by Lynn Sweet)
PORTSMOUTH, N.H.—Independents play a critical role in the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary, and White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) hours after his decisive Iowa caucus win, said people ought to demand “straight talk” from elected officials, echoeing a signature phrase of Sen. John McCain (R-Az.).

DES MOINES, IA --Aboard the Obama charter--where boarding was delayed a few minutes while the Clinton charter was loading, a very hoarse Barack Obama came back and talked briefly to reporters:

I really think that the country is interested in not just change in the abstract but a very specific type of change."

DES MOINES, IA.--From the hardworking Carrie Giddens, the Communications Director of the Iowa Democratic Party:
"With 100 percent of the precincts reporting we are seeing record turnout with 239,000 caucus attendees."

That's almost double the 124,000 in 2004.

Edwards statement below as well as one from Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean...

DES MOINES, IA.--In a few minutes, the Obama traveling press corps--filing photos, stories and blogs in Hy-Vee hall here--will muster to the Des Moines airport to join the winner of the Iowa caucus--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on a charter flying to Portsmouth, N.H. Round two starts now.

There are 50 reporters, photographers and documentary makers on Air Obama which will land in New Hampshire at about 3 a.m. We'll go to a hotel for a few hours and leave at 8:15 a.m. for a rally at the airport an hour later.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is flying to Manchester, N.H. tonight with a planeful of press who follow her.

DES MOINES, IA.---Some quick analysis of why and how Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) won Iowa.

*Race did not play against him. Obama if nominated will be the first African-American Democratic nominee.

*Stunning turnout. With 96 percent of the precincts in, the Iowa State Democratic Party pegged turnout at 227,000 compared to 124,000 in 2004.

*Deputy Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand said Obama's vote came from all parts of the state.

*Independents turned out in big, which bodes well for Obama next week in New Hampshire.
"Independendents turned out in droves, Hildebrand said, and it mattered in a big way."

DES MOINES--Barack Obama won big on Thursday, and Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle offered her congratulations. The next contest is Jan.8 in New Hampshire.

The Clinton campaign is "built for a marathon," she said.

DES MOINES, IA.--For months, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who won the Iowa caucus a few minutes ago, ended his rallies with a cry "Fired Up! Ready to Go!"

Now the crowd here at Hy-Vee Hall, watching the returns on big screen tvs here,with Obama clinching, is chanting Obama's signature "fired up" closing.

Some notes and quotes:

From senior strategist David Axelrod on the Obama win: "It'ss very significant. It’s the first contest. We started out very far behind," he said (However, that was only true in national polls. In Iowa the race was always close between Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The is "very very meaningful. What it means is I think there is a real market for the kind of leadership Sen. Obama is offering. I think people want to be unified as a country and get past this divisive politics that has riddled us for so long," Axelrod said.

DES MOINES, IA.--It's not official yet, but White House hopeful Sen.Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is poised to win the Iowa Democratic caucus, bolstered by a wave of turnout across Iowa, double that of 2004. After results are made official and Obama thanks his backers at a rally here, he takes a late night charter to New Hampshire where there is a primary five days from now.

Lines were so long at some caucus sites, said Obama senior David Axelrod, that "there are places where people can't get in the caucus."

"I think the turnout is large everywhere," he said. Some 124,000 turned out for the Democratic caucus in 2004 and Obama team projected 2008 turnout as high as 230,000

He added, "Not just Democrats" and not just repeat caucus goers. There are tens and tens of thousands of new people."

jan32008 003 (photo by Lynn Sweet) Hillary Clinton turn-out pamphlet

DES MOINES, IA.--A projected massive turnout--double that of 2004, according to the Obama team--is a reason there is glee in Obamaville so far tonight.
White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is waiting for the results of the Iowa caucus at a Residence Inn here, joined by his family. His top strategist, David Axelrod is here in Hy-Vee Hall, where Obama plans to appear sometime after10 p.m for a rally with his supporters and best donors.

About 124,000 Democrats caucused in 2004; Axelorod said turnout could be as high as 230,000 throughout the state. High turnout is seen to benefit Obama.

iowamap (courtesy Google maps)

DES MOINES, IA.--Barack Obama's wife Michelle wished her husband "Happy Caucus Day" on Thursday morning, where Obama warmed up for the first-in-the-nation presidential vote by playing basketball with some buddies and hitting morning television shows.

The pick-up game, running more than an hour, was organized by Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a liong-time Obama friend and a supporter and fund-raising going back to Obama's senate run. The level of play was "very competitive," I'm told. Obama: "He played hard. He played smart." If Obama wins the caucus tonight. This basketball playing stuff will become a metaphor for his campaign here.

The players included Giannoulias, Obama bodyman Reggie Love, a college ball player and ex-pro football player. (What, you ask is a bodyman?) The trusted aide who physically stands next to the candidate (not security) to handle any stuff that comes up from someone they meet along the way.)

december26 003 (photo by Lynn Sweet) Barack Obama predicted a high caucus turnout on Thursday. HIs campaign has been heavily courting the youth vote; recruiting at rallies, where this photo was taken.

POOL REPORT From: Abdon M. Pallasch, Political Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times

Pool Report:

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama spent a half-hour Thursday afternoon greeting diners at a downtown Des Moines food court.

People swarmed around him, wishing him luck, saying he inspired them and promising to caucus for him Thursday night.

"You are going to win big tomorrow," one man told him.

DES MOINES, IA.--I've talked to many Iowans this past year about the presidential race. To say so many of these folks are diligent is an understatement. The argument to keep Iowa as the first-in-the-nation test vote is that the Iowans do their homework.

With the Democratic caucus doors opening at 6:30 p.m. (precinct captains are supposed to arrive early), here's a letter I got from a man I met earlier this year from Pella, Ia. who details why and how he got hooked on Obama.

Dear Ms. Sweet,

My wife and I met you at an Obama gathering a few months ago in Pella, Ia. You gave me your card and said to keep in touch, so here it goes.

jan12008 007 (photo by Lynn Sweet) Get-out-the-caucus instructions for Hillary Rodham Clinton workers, gathering Jan. 1 at a hotel in Ames, Iowa where Clinton spoke and precinct captains distributed election materials.

DES MOINES, IA.--Here's the Thursday Iowa caucus day brief.....undecides are still driving themselves crazy. Here's what I'm calling them: militant undecides.

1. The journalist pundit class is reading tea leaves and the leaves are falling for Barack Obama.

2. I've talked to a variety of Hillary Rodham Clinton people and they are braced to come in third, though they prefer it not be the case.

3. The Edwards team is saying a second place finish is a win for them.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Now and then, I still ache from a couple of ribs I cracked when a stampede of men surrounded Sen. Barack Obama's motorcade when it arrived at Kibera, a district in Nairobi, one of the worst slums in Kenya and maybe the world.

The driver of the press van slammed on the brakes when the mob lurched toward us, and I was thrown. It was an accident. The situation was not hostile, unlike today, when rioters since Sunday have been killing hundreds after a contested presidential election between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

DES MOINES, IA.--The other night I was talking with Beverly Davis, a Huffington Post "OffTheBus" contributor who grew up in Iowa, about the local political feuds and machinations that may help decide how many delegates a Democrat will pick up from Des Moines in the Thursday night caucus.

She knew the underbelly of Des Moines politics so well, I said I'd love to read a story on it. So she just went ahead and wrote one up. It's headlined, "The Tao of Iowa Caucus Voters."

Here it is LINK

Sweet: Obama closing Iowa video.

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DES MOINES--White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the son of a Kenyan who received a heros welcome when he visited his father's country in 2006, issued a plea Wednesday to the Kenyan people to stop the violence that erupted in the wake of a disputed presidential election.

On the day before the Iowa caucus, the first presidential vote, Obama taped a message while in Davenport, Iowa for the Kenyan people broadcast on the Voice of America.

"Despite irregularities in the vote tabulation, now is not the time to throw that strong democracy away. Now is a time for President Kibaki, opposition leader Odinga, and all of Kenya’s leaders to call for calm, to come together, and to start a political process to address peacefully the controversies that divide them. Now is the time for this terrible violence to end," he said in the message.

AMES, IOWA--White House hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who is likely not to survive a first round of balloting in Thursday's Democratic Iowa caucus, on Tuesday told his supporters to support Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as their second choice.

"I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice this Thursday, because of my singular positions on the war, on health care, and trade. This is an opportunity for people to stand up for themselves.But in those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice. Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: Change," Kucinich said in a statement.

While Kucinich was barely pulling any backing according to all polls--thereby making it likely he would not make the 15 percent threshold vote needed in most precincts to win delegates--his voters going for Obama in a second round could be critical for Obama coming out of Iowa ahead of rivals Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) or former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.)

Kucinich spokesman Andy Juniewicz told the Chicago Sun-Times the deal was finalized on Tuesday and Obama called him at about 2 p.m. central time to thank him for his support. In making the second choice deal with Obama, Kucinich decided not to do a replay of 2004, where his followers were asked to support Edwards as their second choice, helping to provide Edwards with his margin for coming in second.

Shortly after the deal was done, Kucinich issued a statement, followed by one from Obama.

In the statement, Obama said, “I have a lot of respect for Congressman Kucinich, and I’m honored that he has done this because we both believe deeply in the need for fundamental change."

DES MOINES, Iowa -- After almost a year of manic focus on Democrats John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Iowa caucus outcome Thursday may depend on the front-runners' allies cutting deals with the backers of Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson and Dennis 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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