Thursday, January 25, 2007

World of entertainment excited about Obama, but many biding their time on endorsement

From the Associated Press

Star quality is what Hollywood was built on. And there is no question that to the many powerful Democrats in the entertainment community, Sen. Barack Obama has loads of it.

George Clooney calls him a friend. Another Oscar winner, Halle Berry, has said she would "collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear." Television queen Oprah Winfrey says he is her man.

Three of the most powerful men in Hollywood — Steven Spielberg, Jefrey Katzenberg and David Geffen — have just invited Democrats to a truly high-profile fundraiser: a Feb. 20 reception for Obama at the swank Beverly Hilton Hotel, with a dinner later at Geffen's home for top donors.

But despite all that, political analysts note that being the "next big thing" can be fleeting. And a number of traditional donors and activists in Hollywood and the music industry are a long way from choosing, at this early stage, whom to endorse among the three seen as top-tier Democratic candidates: Obama, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards.

"People are very excited that this is a fine Democratic field," says Marge Tabankin, a longtime political activist in Hollywood. "Many people will support several candidates, to keep a healthy debate going. The top candidates are all coming out in the next month, and people will be carefully checking them out, listening to what they have to say."

She and other analysts point out that it is Clinton who is the clear front-runner at this point, with the long-term relationships, the financing, the network of support dating to the early 1990s, when her husband began his first term as president.

Others note the admiration for Edwards, and the sense that the former North Carolina senator and the 2004 vice presidential nominee has a strong and clear message this time around.

"People feel he's very well-positioned," Tabankin says. "He's got support for his commitment to fighting poverty, for his energy and his intelligence." And in liberal Hollywood, many like his position on Iraq — he has recanted his 2002 vote that authorized force there and demanded that Senate rivals block funds for President George W. Bush's troop increase.

Even the Obama fundraiser hosted by the three founders of the DreamWorks movie studio does not mean all three have decided to endorse Obama. Only Katzenberg is backing the Illinois senator, says Katzenberg's political adviser, Andy Spahn.

Spielberg is not picking favorites yet. He and other major Los Angeles donors, including producer Steve Bing, media mogul Haim Saban, supermarket magnate Ron Burkle and investment banker Sim Farar, will be co-hosting a fundraiser for Clinton in the spring, said her spokesman, Phil Singer.

Clooney, one of the world's hottest movie stars, has made no secret of his enthusiasm for Obama's candidacy, even if he has made no public endorsement.

"George is a huge supporter and fan of Barack, as well as a friend," said Clooney's publicist, Stan Rosenfield. He stressed that Clooney is unlikely to campaign for Obama, though, because the actor feels support from liberal Hollywood can be a detriment to the candidate. "You lose the heartland."

Barbra Streisand and Norman Lear, major Democratic players in Hollywood, have not taken a position, and they traditionally give to multiple candidates "in order to keep debate alive," says Tabankin, who is affiliated with the Barbra Streisand Foundation.

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons says he has yet to make a choice. But he has an idea for the perfect Democratic candidate.

"If you could take Barack Obama's image, add Hillary Clinton's money and John Edwards' voice, that would be my candidate," says Simmons, an independent who has supported both Democrats and Republicans.

Simmons says Obama has yet to present a clear picture of where he stands.

"He's a rock star," Simmons said in a telephone interview. But he added, "I don't know what his opinions are." Simmons says that so far, the message he prefers is Edwards' — but he's also fond of Dennis Kucinich, the liberal Ohio congressman launching his second long-shot candidacy.

Others, Tabankin says, have similar reservations. "Obama has tremendous potential — he cuts across race and class lines. But people don't know him yet," she says.

There's also a current of nervousness: Is the country ready to elect a black president? The same current of nervousness exists about Clinton, of course: Is the country ready to elect a female?

A crucial mistake, says analyst Todd Boyd, would be to reduce everything to the gender and race factor.

"We're simplifying things if we do that," says Boyd, a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. "What I'm finding interesting is that Obama is not the immediate favorite of a lot of African-Americans — he came up through the system, not the grass roots like Jesse Jackson. At the end of the day, race and gender are a major factor, but not the only factor. Hollywood will line up and see how these things play out."

Yet Boyd and others cannot deny that Obama has one thing the others do not have.

"Obama has the potential to be a star like nobody else does," he said. "He has that 'It' factor, that star appeal. And it's Hollywood that created that system."

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Obama smear tactic debunked

Recently, the Right Wing has been attempting to smear Barack Obama by claiming he is actually a Muslim. To me, personally, it wouldn't matter if he was Muslim, Christian, Jew, or Hindu - I am not a racist, xenophobe or regigious zealot - all I am interested in is an intelligent, correct thinking individual to be our next president. That said, here is what CNN recently reported.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Allegations that Sen. Barack Obama was educated in a radical Muslim school known as a "madrassa" are not accurate, according to CNN reporting.

Insight Magazine, which is owned by the same company as The Washington Times, reported on its Web site last week that associates of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, had unearthed information the Illinois Democrat and likely presidential candidate attended a Muslim religious school known for teaching the most fundamentalist form of Islam.

Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, from 1967 to 1971, with his mother and stepfather and has acknowledged attending a Muslim school, but an aide said it was not a madrassa.

Insight attributed the information in its article to an unnamed source, who said it was discovered by "researchers connected to Senator Clinton." A spokesman for Clinton, who is also weighing a White House bid, denied that the campaign was the source of the Obama claim.

He called the story "an obvious right-wing hit job."

Insight stood by its story in a response posted on its Web site Monday afternoon.

The Insight article was cited several times Friday on Fox News and was also referenced by the New York Post, The Glenn Beck program on CNN Headline News and a number of political blogs.

School not a madrassa

But reporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.

He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."

Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

Vause also interviewed one of Obama's Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils. Insight reported that Obama's political opponents believed the school promoted Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam, "and are seeking to prove it."

"It's not (an) Islamic school. It's general," Winadijanto said. "There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian. ... So that's a mixed school."

The Obama aide described Fox News' broadcasting of the Insight story "appallingly irresponsible."

Fox News executive Bill Shine told CNN "Reliable Sources" anchor Howard Kurtz that some of the network's hosts were simply expressing their opinions and repeatedly cited Insight as the source of the allegations.

Obama has noted in his two books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope," that he spent two years in a Muslim school and another two years in a Catholic school while living in Indonesia from age 6 to 10.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Young Barry Obama

I found this page from Barack Obama's yearbook on a blog called Pushing String.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How Chicago's top two papers "covered" the Obama announcement

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Obama – young, gifted and 'black'

By Tony Harnden for the London Telegraph

Beneath the domed ceiling of the Senate chamber on Tuesday evening, two senators stood talking animatedly to colleagues. They were in separate groups barely a foot apart. Each was intensely aware of the presence of the other but did not acknowledge it.

They were Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He, in national politics for just two years, is vying to become America's first black president. She, a former first lady and veteran political spouse, is pursuing a long-nurtured ambition to become America's first woman president.

Hours earlier, Mr Obama had sprung from the 2008 starting blocks by announcing he was exploring a presidential bid. The official declaration is already set for February 10 in Springfield, Illinois, home of Abraham Lincoln, the president who ended slavery and was elected a war president after just two years in Congress.

Immediately after her rival's move, a wrong-footed Mrs Clinton postponed a press conference on Iraq. Yesterday she appeared on all three network morning talk shows. Underneath the studied serenity and tight smile, she was clearly rattled.

As well she might be. I saw the Obama phenomenon – even before his announcement he had already surpassed the status of mere candidate – up close in California late last year. He was the embodiment of everything Mrs Clinton is not.

It was not the Obamamania of his subsequent New Hampshire appearance. This was different. The senator from Illinois, just 45 and elected only two years ago, spoke in a white evangelical mega-church where virtually every person present believed that his stance in favour of abortion rights was a mortal sin.

He did not shrink from expressing his views, but he did so in a perfectly pitched, conversational baritone that silenced the vast hall. Afterwards, he moved effortlessly through the throng, shaking hands, accepting hugs, taking minutes at a time to talk to ordinary folk pressing their opinions on him.

There were none of the minders who surround Mrs Clinton and he did not decline to answer a straight question, as she so often does, preferring to wait to formulate the perfect answer and then repeat it ad nauseam. I asked him what his presence among those whom Republicans refer to as their "base" signified. Looking me in the eye, while signing a book with his right hand, he replied: "We should reach out to all Americans of goodwill who want to work on the issues that bind us together. This is a great example of the opportunities to get problems solved."

It was a simple message and a performance reminiscent of Bill Clinton, whose glad-handing political skills his more disciplined wife has not inherited. While Mrs Clinton can seem shrill and hard edged even when making a sensible, moderate proposal, Mr Obama's undoubted liberalism is enveloped in a warm, fuzzy cloak that makes him sound reasonable no matter what he says.

In an era that Arnold Schwarzenegger has defined as "post-partisan", correctly identifying that a key message from voters in the mid-terms was that they are sick of politics as usual, this is a powerful attribute. Mr Obama, moreover, is not defined by his race. Indeed, the tired Democratic proponents of the politics of racial identity are distinctly lukewarm. Al Sharpton spoke witheringly of the "media razzle-dazzle" surrounding Mr Obama and asked if there was "some real meat there".

Harry Belafonte, the former calypso singer who branded Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as "house slaves" of the Bush Administration, said: "Obviously very bright, speaks very well, cuts a handsome figure. But all of that is just the king's clothes. Who's the king?" Like much about him that defies categorisation, to describe Mr Obama as simply "black" does not tell all the story. His mother was a white woman from Kansas, while his father was a Kenyan former servant and goat herder. They met in Hawaii and divorced when their son was two.

Mr Obama lived with his mother in Indonesia and attended private schools, where his classmates knew him as Barry. He followed his father by going to Harvard, where he became the first black editor of the Law Review. It wasn't until he was an adult that he even defined himself as African-American.

He is part of a new generation of young black Democrats who regard race as only one aspect of their make-up. They include Congressman Artur Davis, Cory Booker, mayor of New Jersey, and Adrian Fenty, the new mayor of Washington. All are occasionally smeared for being "light-skinned" or "not black enough". It was Mr Davis, who had to endure black taunts about being in the pay of the Jews when he was elected in 2002, who described Mr Obama this week as "the kind of unique transformational candidate who surfaces once in generation".

Mr Obama has the advantage of having arrived in Washington after the vote for the Iraq war that has so dogged Mrs Clinton. He spoke out against the war from the outset but has not endorsed a withdrawal timetable – prompting some Left-wing bloggers to deride him as "O-bomb-a".

Senator John Edwards, who has strong support in the key first caucus state of Iowa and has staked out a position on the Left, is already calling for a pull-out. But he voted for the war.

All three leading candidates for the Republican nomination – Senator John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor, and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor – have staked out hawkish positions on the war. If chaos and death continue, Mr Obama is ideally positioned.

Mr Obama's biggest vulnerability seems to be not that he is black but that he is green, and Americans won't elect a neophyte as commander-in-chief in the post-September 11 world. He is, however, turning his inexperience into an advantage by tapping into the widespread disillusion with established politicians. An apology over a dodgy real estate deal, an admission of cocaine use, even disquiet over his middle name "Hussein" have failed to tarnish his rock-star image.

In 1960, many thought John F Kennedy could not be elected president because he was a Roman Catholic. Two decades later, Ronald Reagan was written off as too old and too conservative. But both men established a connection with voters that transcended their policies.

It is still two years and two days until the 44th president is inaugurated, but Mr Obama is already well placed to make a serious shot at emulating them.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Just another day in the Senate for Obama - except for media horde

By Nedra Pickler for the Associated Press

A photographer or two on the beach in Hawaii is nothing compared to the Capitol Hill swarm that greeted the newest presidential hopeful - Sen. Barack Obama.

Emerging from a lunch with colleagues Wednesday, reporters pressed the Illinois Democrat, who gave away little about his budding campaign. His appearance at a routine committee hearing drew every camera in the room, while the more senior senators who are thinking of running were ignored.

"Is there something rare at this table among competitors?" a smiling Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., remarked as he sat with Obama on his left and two other potential 2008 candidates - Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joe Biden of Delaware - on his right.

After months of hype, the freshman senator jumped into the White House race Tuesday by forming a presidential exploratory committee and disclosing that an official announcement would come Feb. 10. Obama got in the race despite saying a day earlier that he was concerned to find a photographer "lurking in the bushes" when he was on vacation in Hawaii with his family last month.

Obama avoided media appearances Tuesday when he announced his decision on his Web site. Reporters found him Wednesday as he walked into the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to the rat-a-tat-tat of camera clicks.

Biden, the committee chairman, could have been accused of trying to undercut his rivals. He forgot to call on Kerry and moved to cut off Obama when his allotted time was up.

"Mr. Chairman, how am I doing on time?" Obama asked as he wrapped up. Biden and Kerry had been whispering and laughing at a private joke while Obama questioned the panel of experts promoting a diplomatic strategy in Iraq.

"Eight seconds," Biden replied.

"I have eight seconds? That's enough to get one question in," Obama said.

But as he started to talk, Biden cut him off. "You're out of time, but go for it," Biden said with a wave of his hand.

"That was a quick second!" Obama protested, and continued with his question as senators are wont to do.

Biden gave Kerry his time after Nelson pointed out that the 2004 presidential nominee was being skipped over. Biden said he'd been out of the room on a phone call and lost track.

Shortly thereafter, most of the media left the room, too, on the heels of Obama.

The media reassembled - and grew in ranks - outside the weekly Democratic caucus lunch in the Capitol. Reporters surrounded Obama as he tried to leave, and he was asked how he plans to be a father while running for president.

"I always care about my kids," Obama said, stepping onto an elevator but unable to escape a the persistent reporter's follow-up question with her colleagues blocking the doors.

How are you going to be a father to your kids running for president? "Well, these are all considerations that I'm taking into account as I make my decisions about moving forward," he said, drawing farther into the elevator and away from outstretched arms jostling tape recorders.

Another reporter asked for Obama's reaction to a proposal by likely rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., to cap the number of troops in Iraq. He didn't directly answer, but only said there are many proposals that Democrats are considering as they try to reverse President Bush's troop increase.

Asked if he will offer his own idea, Obama said cryptically, "That will be coming soon."

Finally, another elevator offered an escape - at least for the day.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Obama Backs Resolution Saying No To Troop Increase

By Mike Flannery for CBS2 Chicago

(CBS) CHICAGO A storm is building on Capitol Hill. Some senators announced Wednesday a resolution to oppose the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq.

CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports Barack Obama, for one, is ready to sign on.

Obama presided over the U.S. Senate on the day after he said he might soon leave that body for the White House.

He also endorsed a non-binding resolution proposed by Democrats and Republicans that would put the Senate on record opposing the president’s plan to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq.

Earlier, he joined other members of the Foreign Relations Committee questioning experts on the Middle East, an occasion for Obama to restate his early opposition to invading Iraq.

"Obviously we're at a critical juncture in Iraq," Obama said. "I've expressed very strong skepticism at the president's approach."

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.), widely regarded as frontrunner among Democrats seeking the White House, appeared on the CBS Early Show. Declining to respond directly to questions about Obama, Clinton nonetheless acknowledged that she faces a much different contest than she expected just a few months ago.

“It's terrific that we're gonna have a very vigorous primary on both sides. The country needs a national conversation about where we're headed and how we're gonna get there so I’m looking forward to a spirited and substantive debate about issues about goals, about aspirations and experience, and the kind of things that voters will be interested in,” Clinton said.

The first face-to-face debate is proposed for April in South Carolina. No word yet on whether Obama or Clinton will participate.

And Obama's turn taking the presiding officer's chair in that committee meeting Wednesday was a coincidence and had nothing to do with his preparing to run for the White House.

He was still, however, basking in the glow of the intense media coverage following his announcement Tuesday on his Web site that he is forming an exploratory committee. The news was on front pages of newspapers coast to coast, and made headlines all around the world.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Splinter groups line up behind Obama

By Christi Parsons for the Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON -- In southern Illinois, one gun-rights advocate is recommending Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to his hunting friends and talking about forming a group with the working title "Sportsmen for Obama."

"I don't agree with everything he says about guns, but he gets the sportsman's point of view on it," said state Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Norris City), who served with Obama in the state legislature. "He would never do anything to hurt hunters, because he has bothered to get to know us and listen to us."

Support from a group like the one Phelps is proposing, even an ad hoc one, could help ingratiate Obama with more conservative voters, either in rural areas or even among union members with strong pro-gun views.

In the early hours after Obama announced his presidential exploratory committee Tuesday, Phelps was one of hundreds of people who reached out to formally offer services representing any number of viewpoints. The flood of responses, Obama aides say, has swamped the budding campaign operation.

Friends from the Illinois legislature are offering to work as a truth-squad against attacks on his Statehouse record. In the Quad Cities in western Illinois, local Democrats want to help Obama launch his foray into nearby Iowa, which holds the nation's first caucuses.

A Chicago minister volunteered to take time off from his church to work for the campaign full time. Students who met up on the Facebook site have launched an independent group named Students for Barack Obama.

Each group says they approached Obama's offices unsolicited, which the senator's staffers say is how they want things to work.

"We want this to be seen by people as a campaign that is going to be built from the bottom up," said Robert Gibbs, an adviser to Obama. "Barack began his career as a community organizer . . . . It's in jobs like that that you see the power that people can have."

That certainly would be the campaign's desire, though it belies the reality of an organization that is expected to raise tens of millions of dollars and includes hundreds of professional staff.

And no doubt, grassroots efforts running independently of a political campaign carry their own risks, such as confusion among volunteers, duplicative work and even phony groups influenced by political adversaries. In a political age when staying "on message" is everything, work not coordinated by the central campaign could be a modern strategist's worst nightmare.

Then there's always the possibility that a "grassroots organization" will later be revealed as a carefully managed stage production.

But several of the offers come from elected officials and other Democratic leaders around Illinois, and their sponsors say they're genuine.

State Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has offered to put together a team of lawmakers to tout and defend Obama's record in the General Assembly, where he served in the state Senate for eight years.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) is offering to introduce Obama around the House, where many members haven't had a chance to get to know him.

North Shore Democrats say they are getting calls from volunteers who want to make bus trips to promote Obama in Iowa. In the Quad Cities, local Democrats are offering to set up a base of operation for the Iowa caucuses.

"My Senate office is literally right across the Mississippi River, a few blocks away," said state Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline). "I could certainly shoot a crossbow from here and hit Iowa."

Offers have come from all over the country, campaign aides say.

Famid Sinha, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, is a founder of Students for Barack Obama, which she said is a completely student-led movement that got its start with a Facebook group called "Barack Obama for President in 2008." The group now has more than 31,000 members, she said.

"We started 100 percent on our own," Sinha said. "This is one of the reasons our group is so significant. The fact that 30-some odd thousand students proactively sought to join our movement speaks volumes to the revolutionary nature of Sen. Obama's candidacy."

As a Democrat in conservative southern Illinois, Phelps appreciates Obama's message about talking across the political divide.

"Those heartfelt issues tend to divide people," Phelps said. "But Barack, he does bridge that."
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Obama Announces via the Internet

As you may know, over the last few months I have been thinking hard about my plans for 2008. Running for the presidency is a profound decision - a decision no one should make on the basis of media hype or personal ambition alone - and so before I committed myself and my family to this race, I wanted to be sure that this was right for us and, more importantly, right for the country.

I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. But as I've spoken to many of you in my travels across the states these past months; as I've read your emails and read your letters; I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics.

So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need.

The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place. Our economy is changing rapidly, and that means profound changes for working people. Many of you have shared with me your stories about skyrocketing health care bills, the pensions you've lost and your struggles to pay for college for your kids. Our continued dependence on oil has put our security and our very planet at risk. And we're still mired in a tragic and costly war that should have never been waged.

But challenging as they are, it's not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. It's the smallness of our politics. America's faced big problems before. But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions.

And that's what we have to change first.

We have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans.

This won't happen by itself. A change in our politics can only come from you; from people across our country who believe there's a better way and are willing to work for it.

Years ago, as a community organizer in Chicago, I learned that meaningful change always begins at the grassroots, and that engaged citizens working together can accomplish extraordinary things.

So even in the midst of the enormous challenges we face today, I have great faith and hope about the future - because I believe in you.

And that's why I wanted to tell you first that I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee. For the next several weeks, I am going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us, and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together. And on February 10th, at the end of these decisions and in my home state of Illinois, I'll share my plans with my friends, neighbors and fellow Americans.

In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for your time, your suggestions, your encouragement and your prayers. And I look forward to continuing our conversation in the weeks and months to come.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Monday, January 15, 2007

Celebs for Obama? has posted the following list of celebrities that have been speaking favorably about Obama.

George Clooney
"He possesses the one quality that you cannot teach and you can't learn. … He is a leader. He walks into a room and you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere. And … I've only seen that a couple of times in my life." (source)

Oprah Winfrey
“I think his sense of hope and optimism for this country and what is possible for the United States is the kind of thing that I would like to get behind."

Will Smith

Clearly meaning that "third act" would be a run for the White House, Smith added, "There's absolutely going to be a third act and I believe [Obama] is going to be the hero." Not a bad endorsement from a guy who has made quite a career of playing heroes of all kinds the past few years. (source)

Rob Reiner
"How poetic would it be that a one-term congressman from the state of Illinois could be elected President and free the slaves and now a one-term African-America Senator from that same state could become the next President?" (source)

Warren Buffet
"I've got a conviction about him that I don't get very often. He has as much potential as anyone I've seen to have an important impact over his lifetime on the course that America takes. If he can do an ounce better with me, fine." (source)

Ethel Kennedy - widow of Senator Bobby Kennedy
"I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did," Ethel Kennedy said, comparing her late husband's quest for social justice to Obama's. "He has the passion in his heart. He's not selling you. It's just him." Ethel Kennedy invited Obama to deliver the keynote address at a ceremony commemorating the 80th birthday of Robert F. Kennedy. She said she had carefully followed the career of the Illinois senator, whom she referred to as "our next president." (source)

Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
“If he has the same effect on others as he does on me, you are looking at a future president." (source)

Matt Damon
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Who would you most like to see as the next president?
MATT DAMON: Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Would you campaign for Obama? Would you go out and work for him?
DAMON: Yes, I would support him strongly (source)

Rap Artist Nas
Q: Do you vote?
A: Not until Obama runs…or maybe when Ms Clinton runs. Obama is an exciting cat. (source)

Stephen Colbert -responding to a recent appearance at Northwestern University, where crowd members donned Colbert/Obama ’08 T-shirts.
"I can't tell Jon I'm dropping him to go with Barack. Maybe he'll read it in this article." (source)

Rap artist Common - on Jadakiss’ 2004 hit single “Why?”
"Why is Bush acting like he trying to get Osama? Why don't we impeach him and elect Obama?"
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Obama a hit as he honors MLK


CHICAGO (AP) -- Sen. Barack Obama was a hit Monday at a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition breakfast honoring Martin Luther King Jr. even if he didn't deliver what much of the crowd clearly wanted: a declaration that he will run for president.

He emphasized later that he was "not making news today."

Obama received a standing ovation at the annual King scholarship breakfast when the Rev. Jesse Jackson introduced him with an approving reference to the Illinois Democrat's presidential aspirations.

"It's a long, nonstop line between the march in Selma in 1965 and the inauguration in Washington in 2009," said Jackson, the coalition's founder and a one-time presidential candidate himself.

Obama said thinking of the slain civil rights leader's life was humbling, and added: "I've gotten a little attention lately, but the fact of the matter is all I do is stand on the shoulders of others."

He noted that King was six years younger than he is now when he was assassinated in 1968 at age 39.

"Whatever challenges we face are nothing like the challenges our parents and grandparents faced," Obama said. "The torch has been passed to this generation, but we haven't always taken it up. We haven't pushed the boundaries of what is possible. We have much more work to do."

The crowd enthusiastically applauded and cheered his remarks.

Later, in an address at a King remembrance service at St. Mark's Church in suburban Harvey, Obama said: "I'm not making news today. I'm not here to make news. There will be a time for that."

The first-term senator has gained national attention since 2005 when he was sworn into office. He recently has made appearances in key primary states and according to several Democrats, he also has hired policy, research and press staff for a campaign to be run from Chicago.

On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, Obama said he'll announce a decision about whether to launch a presidential bid "fairly soon."
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Meet Obama's inner circle

By Mike Dorning and Christi Parsons for the Chicago Tribune
Published January 14, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The gravitational pull around Sen. Barack Obama grows stronger day by day, as he and his advisers seek commitments from political operatives and donors in preparation for a likely run for the presidency.

The existing core of advisers around the Illinois Democrat simultaneously anchors him in the pragmatic sensibility of his urban Midwestern home base and encompasses the world of ideas of his Harvard Law School classmates.

The political professionals who are Obama's closest formal advisers are careful, deliberate counselors, wary of unnecessary risks and no strangers to campaign street fights. The informal coterie is a multihued collection of high achievers, men and women who are friends and intellectual peers.

There's David Axelrod, the strategist at Obama's right hand, perhaps the best-known Democratic consultant working outside of Washington, D.C., equally adept at sensing the right metaphor for high-minded aspirations and at finding the vulnerable spot to savage an opponent.

Then, Robert Gibbs, communications director, a campaign veteran described by one Democratic operative--approvingly--as "Northern ruthlessness and Southern charm combined."

Key players also include friends of Obama's, among them a straight-talking veteran of Chicago Democratic circles, Valerie Jarrett, and a group of South Side professionals.

Perhaps most influential is his wife, Michelle, a formidable daughter of the South Side who is an alumna of the Ivy League and Chicago's rough-and-tumble City Hall. She may not be in on all the conference calls or offer her own health plan in the style of former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton but no one else in the inner circle denies that she would be a driving force in any presidential campaign.

At the center is a 45-year-old political phenomenon who close associates say is prepared both to challenge the views he hears from advisers and to be challenged by them.

"He really wants to know all the points of view in the room. He doesn't want to shut people down or force a consensus," said Michael Froman, an informal Obama adviser who was a Harvard Law classmate and chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin.

Obama "pushes back" in those conversations, said Jarrett, a friend of both Obamas whose dining room table in Hyde Park has sometimes been the setting for consultations. He's intent on thinking through ideas thoroughly, she said.

The senator periodically assembles informal advisers and his senior Senate staff for freewheeling evening sessions to set strategy and appraise his performance. In November, it was a four-hour gathering with stacks of takeout pizza boxes on a conference room table to talk over the senator's future.

Obama and Axelrod speak almost every day. But Obama also often reaches out directly to friends for advice, by e-mail or telephone. Sometimes, the conversations are leisurely. But lately they are mostly quick and compressed, snatched by cell phone as he moves between committee hearings or during downtime in a car traveling from event to event.

Though Obama hasn't announced a run for the White House, he and his advisers are working so intently to put the pieces in place that operatives are starting to tell Obama's likely rivals they are unable to work for those candidates because they are otherwise engaged.

Associates say Obama has settled on Chicago as the headquarters for a national campaign. Donors and fundraisers are being asked to make commitments, and the nascent operation is pulling in staffers and consultants from throughout the nation.

David Plouffe, an Axelrod partner who worked on Obama's 2004 Senate campaign, is the likely campaign manager.

Bill Burton, national press secretary for the House Democrats' midterm campaign, is likely to join up, associates said.

Peter Giangreco, a Chicago-based media consultant and veteran of the Iowa caucuses, is on board to do the direct mail as is his West Coast partner Larry Grisolano. At least one pollster is lined up: Paul Harstad, another Iowa veteran, who also worked on Obama's Senate campaign. Julianna Smoot, finance director for John Edwards' 2004 campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2006, will fill the same role for Obama.

But the group most tightly circled around Obama is a longstanding one, made up of old friends who share an understanding of how he works.His relationships with them provide an insight, albeit admittedly sympathetic, into his approach to leadership.

Axelrod has been a political counselor to Obama even before his Senate race. Gibbs joined shortly after Obama won the primary. Gibbs and Axelrod were standing together on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 for the speech that would propel Obama onto the national stage.

The two men had emerged from backstage to stand amid the crowd for the speech they'd heard Obama, then the Democratic nominee for the Senate, practice several times. As enthusiasm engulfed the convention delegates, both men say, they knew they were working for something more than the average Senate campaign. People around them were crying.

Read the entire story HERE.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Obama to announce Wednesday?

Okay, so Barack Obama did not announce his intention to run for president this morning. However, I now believe it will indeed happen before the end of the week. Quite probably this Wednesday. I think it will happen live during an episode of Oprah Winfrey. Go to Oprah's schedule HERE, and click on Wednesday's tab. It is TBA (to be announced) and reads: "Please check back later for details on the show."

Oprah's shows (which is based in Chicago) is taped in advance, so unless this Wednesday's show is live, they would already know who will be on Wednesday.

A hat tip to my friend Kiss Fan from Illinois.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Obama: Expect decision on run soon

From Associated Press:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said Sunday that he'll announce a decision about whether to launch a presidential bid ''fairly soon.''

Speaking from Chicago on CBS' ''Face the Nation,'' Obama wouldn't say much else about a presidential campaign, saying only he's still debating whether to run.

''I will have something to say about that fairly soon,'' he said. ''And obviously, there's been a lot of talk. It's something that I've been considering.''

Obama is thought to be an early favorite for the Democratic nomination, even though he's been mum about his future prospects.

The first-term senator has gained national attention since being sworn in to office in 2005. He has recently made appearances in key primary states and even garnered a paparazzi photo mention in People magazine.

Obama has hired policy, research and press staff for a campaign to be run from Chicago, according to several Democrats.

And a senior aide to the senator, Steve Hildebrand, recently told potential Iowa supporters that word of his plans could come early this week.

Obama '08 Editor's note: The "word of his plans could come early this week" falls in with what I reported earlier, that Obama could announce on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. That's pretty "early" in the week - and according to the clock, that's today!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Editorial cartoons featuring Obama

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Obama, McCain square off on war

By Mark Silva for the Chicago Tribune:

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who supports President Bush's new deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq, and Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat who is calling for a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, faced the first of a likely long series of counterpoints over the war today in back-to-back interviews on CBS' Face the Nation. It wasn't a debate so much as a laying down of markers.

Obama and McCain, eyeing campaigns for their parties' presidential nominations, were introduced by CBS News' Bob Schieffer as "two possible presidential contenders in 2008.'' Schieffer told them: "My guess is, gentlemen, this is not the last time the two of you will come together to talk about this subject.''

Obama, reluctant to commit himself to any vote blocking spending for the war, is joining Democratic leaders in calling for the start of a phased withdrawal starting over the next four to six month and calls Bush's new plan "stay-the-course-plus.'' McCain, warning that a withdrawal of U.S. forces will lead to "catastrophe'' in Iraq, also acknowledges that he cannot "guarantee success'' with the president's plan.

The president, whom CBS News will feature this evening in an interview aired on 60 Minutes, vows to carry out the deployment regardless of congressional criticism for it. "I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it,'' Bush tells 60 Minutes. "But I've made my decision and we're going forward.''

"I think the case still needs to be made,'' McCain said this morning, calling the debate so far "superficial." "This is about a new strategy, of which an increase in troop strength is an integral part.''

The deployment of 21,500 additional troops is part of a new plan to secure Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, McCain said. "We will go in and we will clear and hold and build,'' he said. "As most people know, we have gone in and cleared and left and the insurgents have returned… Do I believe it can succeed? Yes, I do.''

Asked about critics labeling the ''surge'' in troops as the McCain Doctrine, in a bid to tag the leading Republican contender for the '08 presidential nomination with the war, the senator said: "I think maybe I could call it McCain principle – that when I vote to send young men and women into harm's way… I am committed to seeing it through.''

Asked about a looming non-binding vote in the Senate against the president's war plan, McCain said: "If these people are serious… then they should vote to cut off… funding…. Emotional disapproval, I view as purely a political ploy to do further political damage to the president of the United States…

"The American people deserve this debate… I think we can make our case in this debate,'' McCain said. "The opponents of doing this are obligated, in my view, to tell the American people what the option is if we do leave… What is the option? It's catastrophe.''

"The bloodletting will increase, which means to me that we will back in there, only under far more difficult circumstances at some point,'' he said. "If we withdraw, we have to explain to the American people the consequences.''

McCain offered little support, however, for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom the Bush administration is counting upon to gain control of the situation: "He's been a slender reed,'' McCain said.

Asked if Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) was "out of line'' this week in telling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that she cannot understand the burden the war is placing on military families because she is single, McCain said: "I don't think that's helpful in the debate… I believe in the patriotism and dedication to this nation of everyone I work with in Congress…

"We should have a respectful debate in this Congress and in this country,'' McCain said. "I respect the views of Senator Obama. "But I do believe that a full debate will expose the consequences of failure here.''

Obama, who followed McCain in the Face The Nation interviews this morning, suggested that the debate is not a question of deploying new troops or withdrawing troops today.

"First of all… Sen. McCain has been consistent,'' Obama said "One of the things I strongly disagree with… this notion that we have future catastrophe to look forward to if we phase down troops… We are in the catastrophe that Sen. McCain talked about now.

"Those of us who object to what I consider to be a disastrous policy on the part of President Bush have put forward a different approach,'' Obama said. "If we initiate a phased withdrawal, that provides us leverage to make sure the Iraqis are doing what needs to be done to arrive at a political solution.''

But Obama, stressing the importance of supporting the troops already in Iraq, proved reluctant to commit to a vote on blocking funding for Bush's plan.

"I think this thing is going to proceed in steps,'' he said of the non-binding resolution opposing the president's plan. "I think the resolution is going to go forward… That will send a message that there is great skepticism in Congress and among the American people for this plan.''

In the meantime, Obama said, striking a tone that Democrats have been careful to voice in this debate: "We need to make sure that the troops on the ground have all the equipment and resources necessary…. We unfortunately are not going to be voting on funding for several weeks, or perhaps several months… Funding is coming to come through the 'supplemental' (budget)… and the president hasn't presented that.''

Asked about Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy's proposed legislation to block spending for the president's new deployment, Obama said: "All of us are concerned'' that whatever resolutions are out there "do not potentially strand whatever troops are out there… If there are ways that we can constrain and condition what the president is doing, so that four to six months from now we are considering a phased withdrawal… that is the area that I am most interested in supporting.

"There is bipartisan skepticism, not partisan skepticism, to this plan,'' Obama said, calling for a timetable "to start putting the onus on the Iraqis… That is going to be Shi'a and Sunni sitting down together and saying that we want to come together as a single country.''

Asked about any withdrawal of U.S. forces showing that the U.S. does not have "the stomach for the fight,'' as Vice President Dick Cheney has warned, Obama said: "The vice president has pursued this wrong-headed approach throughout the process.

"The specific proposal that I have put forward, which is echoed in the Iraq Study Group, does not call for an immediate and total withdrawal,'' he said. "What we have suggested is that we begin a phased pullout.''

. "If we begin a well-structured, phased redeployment, in concert with a surge of diplomacy in the region…. there are risks involved in that approach, but there are certainly no more risks than the approach that is being advanced by the administration and Sen. McCain,'' Obama said. "The options are not either total withdrawal or a stay-the-course-plus, which is what the administration is proposing.''

Asked about his own plans for a presidential campaign, Obama reiterated what he has been saying for weeks: "I will have something to say about that fairly soon, Bob… It's something that I've been considering… and will be making an announcement fairly soon… It will be pretty soon.''

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Could it happen on Monday?

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Barrack Obama will be speaking to a large group Monday in Harvey, Illinois.

Is it possible that Obama will use Martin Luther King Day to officially announce he is running for President of the United States?
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, January 12, 2007

Obama responds to President's "surge" speech on The Today Show

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Barack Obama Likely to Run for President

By John Fund for the Hawaii Reporter

It looks as if Barack Obama is likely to run for president. Given the choice between backing their junior senator and Hillary Clinton, who grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois Democratic pols are clearly lining up behind Mr. Obama -- and are even trying to change the date of the state's primary to help him.

State House Speaker Michael Madigan unveiled a plan to move up the primary next year from March 18 to February 5. "If Barack is a candidate... the selection process may be finished before it reaches the Illinois primary," he warned fellow legislators. Other legislative leaders and the state's Democratic governor are on-board with the proposed change.

If he had stopped there, most everyone would have understood Mr. Madigan's desire to secure political advantage for the local candidate. But Mr. Madigan went further and decided to diss other states with early primaries or caucuses by claiming the adjustment was necessary to correct presumably undemocratic flaws in the primary system. After mentioning Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the Illinois Speaker dismissed them all by saying, "These states are not representative of mainstream America."

Hmmm. Exactly in what way? The residents of Nevada, which is 23% Hispanic, will no doubt wonder what he means. So too will people in South Carolina, where 29% of the population is African-American. How are they not "representative of mainstream America"?

Perhaps after Mr. Obama thanks his ally Mr. Madigan for the favor of moving up the state's primary, he might also educate him in the nuances of diversity politics, which Mr. Madigan apparently is clueless about.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wanna bet?

Apparantly, there are sites on the web that allow people to place bets on the Presidential elections. I ran across this bit from a site this morning. It was written by Carrie Stroup for the web site.

Odds on Obama shortened from 10/1 to 3/1 this week

Carrie Stroup here! Wanna bet on Barack Obama to win the 2008 Presidential election? Unfortunately, you'll no longer be getting those 10 to 1 odds that would have paid $10 on every $1 bet if he were to win.

With almost two years until the next election, Barack Obama is now listed with 3 to 1 odds of becoming the next US President in 2008 and those odds are likely to be shortened further as well. That bet would pay out $3 on every $1 wagered at (see website here) Like I tell everyone, LOCK THESE ODDS IN NOW BEFORE THEY CHANGE AGAIN.

Of course there are no guarantees that Barack Obama will win the election.

Democrats and Republicans focus on 2008 Presidential candidates has odds on all the potential party leaders

The next Presidential election is 22 months away but the race by Democrats and Republicans to carry their party standard on November 4, 2008 is already hot according to the folks at

Will Barack Obama challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination? Will John Edwards slip up the middle? On the Republican side, will John McCain be pushed aside by the more liberal Rudy Giuliani, or will Newt Gingrich make a winning Hail Mary pass?, the world’s largest online sportsbook and casino, has odds on both the potential Democratic and Republican party nominees.

Ever since Hillary Clinton transformed herself from First Lady to the Junior Senator from New York, she has been tagged as the Democratic Party’s front runner. gives her 4-5 odds to win her party’s nomination. Across the United States polls show more Republicans think she will win that prize than Democrats. Still, other polls in key early primary states say she is the front runner among voters who get to elect delegates to the nominating convention.

Barrack Obama’s possible entry into the race is causing concern to other candidates. Almost 20 per cent of Americans think he will be nominated. Odds he will win his Party’s prize are 3-1. All the Obama excitement is taking some steam out of John Edwards’ campaign. The former vice presidential candidate on the 2004 Kerry Democratic ticket is mounting an aggressive campaign but odds makers give him a 7-2 chance he will be on the ballot in 2008. Those are the same odds for Al Gore who has kept his presidential ambitions alive through humor and his critically acclaimed and much viewed film, An Inconvenient Truth.

John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are tied with 6-5 odds to win the Republican Party nomination. Pollsters and analysts send mixed messages about both. Giuliani is favored by 34 per cent of his own party members, compared to McCain who pulls in 26 per cent of the support of Republicans. But McCain is way ahead of Giuliani when it comes to being perceived as the strongest candidate – both Republicans and Democrats agree on that. McCain is currently viewed as the front runner and Giuliani is hampered by the perception that he won’t stick it out.

Newt Gingrich has high name recognition, and the highest negatives. Odds are 4-1 he will capture the Republican presidential nomination. Mitt Romney’s odds are 6-1 and Sam Brownback’s are 8-1.

Odds on candidates winning their party’s 2008 Presidential Nomination:

Get all odds on the 2008 Presidential Election here

Democratic Candidates
Hillary Clinton 4-5
Barack Obama 3-1
John Edwards 7-2
Al Gore 7-2
Tom Vilsack 6-1
John Kerry 8-1
Joe Biden 11-1
Wesley Clark 15-1
Bill Richardson 16-1

Republican Candidates
Rudy Giuliani 6-5
John McCain 6-5
Newt Gingrich 4-1
Mitt Romney 6-1
Sam Brownback 8-1
George Pataki 11-1
Condoleeza Rice 13-1
Mike Hucklebee 15-1
Colin Powell 35-1
Jeb Bush 50-1


Carrie Stroup,

Originally published January 8, 2007 7:04 pm ET

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Editorial cartoons featuring Obama

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, January 05, 2007

Obama to Headline Big Fundraiser

By Tim Craig for the Washington Post

RICHMOND, Jan. 5 -- U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, a possible presidential candidate next year, will be the featured guest at a major fundraiser for the Virginia Democratic Party next month, his spokesman said Friday.

The Illinois Democrat will speak to 2,000 donors and activists at the party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner here.

The first-term senator's participation comes as he considers running for the White House, a prospect generating a lot of buzz among Virginia Democrats, and as national Democratic Party leaders recognize that Virginia has become more competitive, especially in the northern suburbs.

James Webb upset Sen. George Allen (R) in November, and Democrats have won the past two elections for governor. The $165-a-ticket dinner is designed to help the party raise money for its efforts to unseat Republican legislators this fall. The GOP controls both houses of the General Assembly.

Robert Gibbs, Obama's communications director, said the senator is eager to help Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and the state party.

"Sen. Obama is an admirer of Gov. Kaine's and believes that Gov. Kaine is somebody who demonstrates that working together to get something done is not just a slogan," Gibbs said.

Because Obama could announce his plans as soon as this month, his speech at the fundraiser at the Richmond Convention Center could prompt a lot of discussion about Virginia's role in the presidential race.

Virginia's Democratic presidential primary has been held relatively early in past elections, before any candidate had the nomination locked up.

In 2004, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, then-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark spoke at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, which was held days before the primary.

Kerry easily won the Virginia primary, and Clark and Edwards dropped out of the race shortly thereafter.

If Obama enters the 2008 race and stays in it until the primary Feb. 12, Virginia Democrats say, he will probably be a major factor in the state's nominating contest.

"Barack is an exciting, substantive, inspiring speaker and leader. He has to be at the very top of potential candidates," said Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Arlington), chairman of his party's caucus in the House.

Democratic leaders are also hopeful that the party's nominee in 2008 will break the GOP's grip on the state's 13 electoral votes. A Democratic presidential nominee hasn't won the state since 1964.

Obama has made several high-profile visits to Virginia in recent months.

Last fall, he headlined two rallies for Webb during his heated contest with Allen. Thousands of people attended the rallies in Old Town Alexandria and Richmond. When Obama finished speaking at each, the crush of admirers and autograph-seekers swarming around him was so large that his staff had trouble clearing a path for him to his car.

Obama also campaigned for Kaine during the final days of the 2005 governor's race, which helped energize black voters.

Other potential Democratic presidential candidates were also visible in the state on behalf of Webb. Kerry, Edwards and Clark made appearances, as did New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom many Democrats regard as the front-runner for the nomination if she enters the race.

But many Democratic organizations and candidates across the country have come to rely on Obama to draw a crowd.

Obama headlined the West Virginia Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in September. Party leaders said Obama's presence made the dinner the most well-attended in its history, according to local media accounts.

Staff writer Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Obama and others meet with Bush - advise no troop surge

Barack Obama, one of about a dozen US Senators who met with George W. Bush today to discuss the war. After the meeting, Obama who is opposed to a troop surge, told reporters, "I said definitively that I thought it was a bad idea".
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Obama's past: Of Vice and Men

There appears to be a new tactic popping up every week in the national pundit circles to slow down the fast moving locomotive that is Barack Obama. Now, they're pulling Obama's own words against him. The man has admitted to using marijuana and cocaine during his youth. It seems our last two presidents also were early drug users. Okay . . . the difference here is that Obama admitted it freely and put it in his autobiographical "Dreams From My Father", while Clinton and Bush were pushed into their admissions - well, actually Clinton refused to admit he inhaled and Bush won't actually talk about it. Heck, Bush even had a DUI against him.

If anything, Obama's admission without being coerced, shows him to be a more open and honest man than either of our two most recent White House occupants. If you ask me - and I know you're not - an honest man is what this nation is sorely missing.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bobby Kennedy's Widow, Ethel, Would Support Obama Presidential Bid

By Mike Flannery for CBS-2 Chicago.

(CBS) WASHINGTON Illinois Senator Barack Obama made the rounds in Washington Thursday. He still has not announced whether he will run for president, but if he does, CBS 2's Political Editor Mike Flannery reports he will have at least one well-respected woman backing him.

Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Bobby Kennedy, told CBS 2 she would support Obama in a presidential run. Many people often compare Obama with Kennedy.

Kennedy said she thinks Obama should run for president. When asked why, she said, while walking next to Obama, "He's so adorable. Because he's got it all."

Not everyone is so adoring of Obama, including political rival Hillary Clinton who was circumspect when CBS 2 talked to her, but is said to be privately raising questions about the Illinois senator's public and personal experience.

A recent Washington Post article brought up Obama's admitted drug use in his youth. When asked about that drug use and the controversy the Post article has created, Obama said, "It's not something I’m proud of, but it's not something I shy away from."

"I think the message is when you're a teenager you can do some stupid things, but you can overcome stupid things you do when you're a teenager," he said.

Obama would not make a statement about when, or if, he will launch his campaign for the White House.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Does Obama's agenda have an agenda?

By CNN Political Editor, Mark Preston

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- At first glance, Sen. Barack Obama's, D-Illinois, public schedule does not seem very notable unless you consider what is weighing heavily on his mind these days.

Obama, who is contemplating a run for the presidency, has a jam-packed calendar Thursday that includes stop-bys at swearing-in festivities for senators who either represent important states or are powerful in their own right. In a span of less than two hours Thursday afternoon, Obama is scheduled to attend receptions for Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and newly minted Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jim Webb of Virginia. His appearance at these receptions will be book-ended by a morning reception for Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and a closing swearing-in event for Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Kennedy and Webb are the most intriguing stops on Obama's schedule, although it would be short-sighted not to note the importance of California, Michigan, Missouri and New Jersey for potential Democratic presidential candidates. Kennedy has pledged to back Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts if he decides to seek the Democratic presidential nomination again. But if Kerry opts to forgo another White House run, Kennedy's endorsement will be highly sought after by the other Democratic candidates. Webb, a former Navy secretary, could possibly help bolster Obama's national security credentials if the Illinois senator decides to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama's office had no comment on his schedule. But Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, notes that every move made by potential presidential candidates is carefully calculated.

"When it comes to schedules, especially for presidential candidates, there are no accidents," Gonzales said.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Barack Obama on Late Night with Conan O'Brien

From May, 12, 2006. Obama shows his funny side.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Character assassination

It appears CNN and FOX news are trying to put a ratchet on the rising star that is Barack Obama.

Back in December Bill O'Reilly sent his producer to an Obama book signing so the producer could badger Obama. Instead of taking the bait, Obama said he liked watching Bill's show and agreed to make an appearance on the O'Reilly Factor. Also from Fox are the continued rants from Dick Morris about how "empty" Obama is. It is fairly apparent that Morris hasn't done any research.

However, it is CNN that is doing more of a butchering on Obama. There was the Jeanne Moos segment doing a free association piece with "Obama" and "Osama". Jeff Greenfield did a piece comparing Obama's wardrobe with that of Iranian president, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadineja.

Now there was the "mistake" on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer". Before going to a commercial break, CNN ran the photo on the right. Sorry, but if you take a look at your keyboard, you'll notice that the "S" key and the "B" key are not even that close for a mistake.

What are these networks so afraid of? If you don't like Barack Obama, that's one thing, but character assassination is another thing. Why not give Obama the opportunity to at least declare for the presidency and have some healthy debate before you attempt to knock him out.

What these pundits and character assassins don't seem to realize is that the character of Barack Obama is resilient. Time will bear me out on this.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button