Illinois Senator Barrack Obama made his “exploratory committee” to discuss a run for President in 2008 official yesterday and today, the first shots were fired across the bow, letting the Senator know what to expect from the media that has until today considered him their darling.
The Associated Press fired the first shot, saying Obama would have to explain his voting record while in the Illinois General Assembly, including specific votes: Obama voted against requiring emergency medical care for a fetus that survived an abortion, voted in favor of allowing retired police officers to carry concealed weapons and voting against allowing home owners to use certain types of weapons to protect themselves against home invasion.
Opponents claim Obama has no real legislative history, having served just two years in the U.S. Senate. He won the open seat in 2004 with a record-setting 70 percent of the popular vote.
The Republican Party in Illinois was beset with internal struggles during Obama’s Senate campaign and scandal after scandal, including Obama’s first opponent being forced to withdraw from the race. Eventually, he faced Allan Keyes for the senate seat, though Keyes did not even live in Illinois until just days before he began his campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Obama’s announcement on Tuesday was largely procedural, allowing him to begin to create a campaign staff and start raising money for a run for the presidency. He is expected to formally announce his candidacy February 10 in the Illinois state capital, Springfield.
Last week, loyal Illinois Democrats showed their support for the junior Senator’s campaign, by announcing an effort to change the date of the presidential primary in Illinois. If the effort is successful, and that seems likely since Democrats control the Illinois General Assembly and the governor is a Democrat, the Illinois presidential primary could be the first in the nation, before even the Iowa caucus.
The theory behind the move is that by having the presidential primary in February, Illinois Democrats could virtually ensure a win for Obama and a jump start for the “true” campaign season.
In announcing his candidacy for the candidacy, Obama pointed out that another Illinoisan who ran for president, Abraham Lincoln, had also only served two years in Congress before becoming the 16th president of the United States. Obama is expected to tie his official campaign announcement to Lincoln’s birthday celebrations in Springfield, where Lincoln maintained a home and is buried.
The last Illinois Senator to run for president was Democrat Paul Simon who ran against Michael Dukakis in 1988 for the democratic nomination. Dukakis won the nomination and was defeated by the first President Bush.