Senator Barack Obama, (D-Ill), following months of speculation by the press, has announced he will form an exploratory committee in regard to the 2008 Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. Formation of such a committee is considered the first concrete step in a serious bid for the Presidency.
On the heels of a number-one bestseller, “The Audacity of Hope,” and rising popularity within the party, it would appear that voter support and financial backing are strong enough to justify an Obama run for the White House.
On February 10th, 2007, from his home state of Illinois, Obama will announce his final decision regarding a campaign for the Presidency.
Making his announcement on his web site, BarackObama.com, as well as via a personal e-mail message to newsletter subscribers, Obama began his letter with the following comments:
“As many of you 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.”
Obama closes his letter by confirming the formation of an exploratory committee. He goes on to write:
“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.”
On January 4, 2007, positioning himself as an outsider free of politics as usual in Washington, Obama made the following comments, also via his web site:
“After a year in which too many scandals revealed the influence special interests wield over Washington, it’s no surprise that so many incumbents were defeated and that polls said “corruption” was the grievance cited most frequently by the voters.
It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that this message was intended for only one party or politician. The votes hadn’t even been counted in November before we heard reports that corporations were already recruiting lobbyists with Democratic connections to carry their water in the next Congress.”
Concerning the war in Iraq, Obama observed recently, “In 2002, I strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq because I felt it was an ill-conceived venture which I warned would “require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I said then that an invasion without strong international support could drain our military, distract us from the war with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and further destabilize the Middle East.
Sadly, all of those concerns have been borne out.”
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama, 45, has an American mother and a Kenyan father. Following a divorce when his son was two years old, Obama’s Harvard-educated father left Hawaii and returned to Kenya as an economics minister. For much of his childhood, Obama lived in Indonesia with his mother and stepfather, experiencing a “typical” middle-class upbringing. Living with his grand parents, he returned, to the United States to finish high school in Hawaii.
At Columbia University, he majored in political science with a specialty in international relations. He later attended Harvard Law School, graduated magna cum laude, and served as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review.
Following law school, Obama moved to Chicago where he worked as a community activist and a civil rights lawyer. Additionally, at the University of Chicago Law School he became a senior lecturer specializing in constitutional law.
Obama’s first entry into elected office was representing the South Side of Chicago in the Illinois State Senate from 1996-2004 as a Democrat. Shortly thereafter, in 2004, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, with an overwhelming majority. His opponent was conservative black Republican, Alan Keyes who garnered 30% of the vote.
Obama caught the attention of the public during his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Nation Convention in Boston, Mass. Party members and the press remarked on his sense of presence, confidence and eloquent expression.
Obama is the only African-American serving in the U.S. Senate today.
In addition to The Audacity of Hope, Obama published an autobiography, Dreams From My Father, in 1995; it, too, became a best seller.
At Harvard Law School, Obama met and later married his wife Michelle Robinson Obama. Together they have two daughters: Malia Ann (born 1999) and Sasha (born 2001). As a family they attend Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. When asked about his religious beliefs, Obama writes:
“I was drawn to the power of the African American religious tradition to spur social change. […] In the history of these struggles, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death; rather, it was an active, palpable agent in the world. […] It was because of these newfound understandings-that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved-that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized. It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.”
Obama’s lack of experience as an elected official in Washington is considered by some to be his greatest weakness. Others often view it as strength. Supporters often cite that “other” Illinois Presidential hopeful, Abraham Lincoln, who ascended to office after a mere two years in the House of Representatives.