We SUPPORT and ENDORSE JOHN EDWARDS, HILLARY CLINTON , Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, John Kerry , Wesley Clark and their SUPPORTERS AND OTHER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES




Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ways of Washington must change,’ Obama tells crowd

Ways of Washington must change,’ Obama tells crowd
By Kurt Erickson Sunday, February 11, 2007

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Sen. Barack Obama gripped the historic coattails of one of the nation’s most revered presidents Saturday, hoping to use the admiration of Abraham Lincoln to help guide him to the White House.
Standing before the frigid stonework of Illinois’ Old State Capitol — the same place where the nation’s 16th president gave his landmark “House Divided” speech nearly 150 years ago — the freshman senator told an estimated 15,000 people on hand that his inexperience shouldn’t deter him from being president.
“I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness — a certain audacity — to this announcement,” the 45-year-old Chicago Democrat said. “I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.”
In a 20-minute speech delivered in 12-degree temperatures, Obama offered up his vision for the nation as he embarked on a three-day, six-stop visit through Iowa, Chicago and New Hampshire.
He said he would work for a universal health-care coverage program, a pullout of troops from Iraq by March 2008 and higher pay for teachers.
“I want to win that next battle for better schools, better jobs and health care for all,” he said amidst chants of “Obama.”
The son of a Kenyan father and a white woman from Kansas, the liberal-voting state senator emerged from political obscurity in 2004 after delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
Since then, his charismatic style has propelled him to the U.S. Senate and into contention for the presidency.
In a testament to his popularity, his announcement drew media from around the world, including Denmark, Japan and Korea. Supporters rolled in on buses from Decatur, Bloomington, Chicago and points beyond.
“This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change,” Obama said. “By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail.”
Obama backers downplayed questions raised about his experience. Prior to his two years in the U.S. Senate, Obama spent eight years as a state senator.
“There is no particular position that can prepare you to be president,” said Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago. “Eisenhower was elected president and he was just a general in the war. Abraham Lincoln served only one term in Congress, served four or five terms in Springfield, at a time when the nation was in crisis. He turned out to be one of our best presidents. That should not be an issue.”
Sen. Gary Forby, a Democrat who hails from the coal fields of southern Illinois, said Obama’s candidacy will give voters a historic choice.
“Do we vote for a black or do we vote for a lady?” said Forby, referring to Obama and presumptive Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Obama’s emergence as a top-tier candidate was not lost on Republicans.
“I like him; you can’t help but like him,” said U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, a Peoria Republican. “On a personal level I really like Barack. He is the real deal and I think he has an opportunity.”
After his address in Springfield, Obama was off to campaign and raise money in Iowa and Chicago.
He heads to New Hampshire on Sunday, where he may cross paths with Clinton, his biggest rival in the race, according to the polls.
Last week, a University of New Hampshire poll of likely Democratic voters in that state showed the former First Lady with a 35 percent to 21 percent lead over Obama. Former North Carolina U.S. Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2004, came in at 15 percent.
Polling in Iowa in December found Obama and Edwards tied at 22 percent, followed by former Gov. Tom Vilsack at 12 percent, with Clinton at 10 percent.
Kurt Erickson can be contacted at or (217) 789-0865.
Whom Obama faces
Here’s a quick look at whom Barack Obama currently faces in his quest to win the Democratic nomination for president:
* U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, 59, of New York. Former first lady was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and was re-elected in 2006 with about 67 percent of the vote. She is a Chicago native.
* Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, 54, of North Carolina. He was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998; retired in 2004. He is a trial lawyer.
* Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. 56-year-old attorney served as governor from 1998 through 2006. Elected to the Iowa State Senate in 1992 and served through 1998. Elected mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, 1987, and served through 1992.
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, 59, was a member of the Clinton cabinet as U.S. Secretary of Energy from 1998 through 2001. Also was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, 1997. He served as a congressman from New Mexico for 15 years, 1983-97.
* U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, also ran for president in 2004. He was re-elected to a sixth term in Congress in 2006; first elected to Congress in 1996. He also served as mayor of Cleveland and in the Ohio Senate.
* A draft movement is under way for former Vice President Al Gore, 58, of Tennessee. He was the Democratic nominee for president in 2000. He served two terms as vice president after serving in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
* U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, 62, of Connecticut. An attorney, he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980 after a six-year run in the U.S. House.
* Gen. Wesley Clark, 62, also a Chicago native, sought the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He served 34 years in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of 4-star general and NATO supreme allied commander. Served in Vietnam as an infantry officer and company commander and was wounded in action.
* U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, 64, of Delaware. An attorney, he has been in the U.S. Senate since 1972. He considered but ruled out a bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He sought the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, announcing candidacy on June 9, 1987, but withdrew three months later amid plagiarism charges.
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