Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) announced his bid for president Saturday, a black man evoking Abraham Lincoln’s ability to unite a nation and a Democrat portraying himself as a fresh face capable of leading a new generation.
“Let us transform this nation,” he told thousands shivering in the cold at the campaign’s kickoff.
Obama, 45, is the youngest candidate in the Democrats’ 2008 primary field dominated by front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and filled with more experienced lawmakers. In an address from the state capital where he began his elective career 10 years ago, the first-term U.S. senator sought to distinguish himself as a staunch opponent of the Iraq war and a White House hopeful whose lack of political experience is an asset.
“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,” Obama said to some of the loudest applause of his 20-minute speech.
Obama is looking to cap his remarkable, rapid rise to prominence with the biggest political prize of all — the presidency. His elective career began just 10 years ago in the Illinois Legislature. He lost a bid for a U.S. House seat, then won the Senate seat in 2004, a relatively smooth election made easier by GOP stumbles.
I could have sworn he already declared, and that was why we were talking about him.