Monday, December 18, 2006

Obama and family are worried about his safety

By Lynn Sweet for the Chicago Sun-Times

Sen. Barack Obama is concerned about his personal security --telling the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board Thursday that he and his wife fear there is a potential for violence -- even if he does not run for president.

"Being shot, obviously, that is the least-attractive option,'' Obama said.

The Illinois Democrat told the Sun-Times he has concluded a 2008 White House bid "would be viable" and he would have "a pretty good chance of winning the nomination.''

For the first time, Obama talked about the downside of his swelling popularity, before his expected presidential announcement in January, after a vacation in his native Hawaii.

Security, Obama said, referring to his wife, is "something that is on Michelle's mind. And the minds of many of my friends.

"I think it is something that will have to be addressed if I ran. You are not assigned Secret Service protection until you are effectively the nominee."

Obama said he "might have to build in" his own security provisions.

"Now I will tell you, this is something, this is one of the least-attractive -- not the part about being shot, obviously, that is the least-attractive option. But even just having a security apparatus around you; one of the things that I have been very proud over the last several years, is, for all the hoopla, I am not an entourage guy.

"...I have been accessible, and Michelle and I have gone out of our way not to change our habits. Even if I am not to run for president, the crush of attention has created a different set of problems."

Obama's family has been nervous for some time for his safety. On Sunday, Obama found himself surrounded by hundreds of people at two stops in New Hampshire. In Nairobi, Kenya, last August, Obama at a stop grabbed a bullhorn to talk to thousands of men stampeding in a street to see him.

During that Kenyan visit, Obama's half sister, Auma, gave an interview to Laurie Abraham of Elle magazine in which she worried about his safety.

"Not to be offensive, there are crazy people in America as well, with crazy ideas. And at the end of the day, what matters is that he's a black man. The history of America is quite violent,'' Auma said in a story in the Elle December issue.

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