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Obama: Presidential Contender

This article is more than 16 years old.

And then there was word of an Illinois legislator and Congressional neophyte, just two years in Washington, who turned his attention to the presidency in a time of national crisis. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

Expect to hear a lot about Mr. Lincoln as neophyte Illinois senator Barack Obama makes his newly-minted run for the White House. Yesterday came the first formal signal that Obama — African-American, with a story all his own — is going for it.

Next month, in Springfield, Illinois, where Honest Abe made his "house divided" speech, Obama will make it official.

This hour On Point: from the Land of Lincoln, Barack Obama sets his sites on the White House.

Quotes from the Show:

"Maybe we're in a post-racial environment, at least in Washington, but people haven't really focused on the fact that this is the first time in history where we have a black candidate with a credible chance of winning a major party primary and winning the presidency. It's quite an incredible thing." Jeffrey Goldberg

"[Obama]'s had to reflect, as his books show, on these basic questions of identity and belonging, and of course that speaks to any immigrant experience, which is in some ways the natal American experience. But it also, I think, speaks to the desire the country has to search for something new ... His story is aligned with a very plausible national story." Jack Beatty

"I've seen Barack Obama in a number of contexts but not in every context and I do think the national political campaign will be a different context — it's very exciting, there's enormous potential. But it's very curious to me the way in which race is playing out in this campaign. A number of people talked about a post-racial America. We're not a post racial America; we're not a post-racist America so race will certainly factor in. But we don't want to see, at least what I don't want to see with Barack Obama is a sort of Jacky Robinson syndrome, that is the first black has to be the safest black. ... For Barack's campaign, it's really going to be a question of 'can principals trump pragmatism'?" Barbara Ransby

"A couple of months ago, Senator Obama gave a speech in which he laid out his approach to Iraq and he is supportive of a phased withdrawal and he believes that the only solution to the situation in Iraq is a political solution and that the President's proposal to surge a buildup in Iraq is exacerbating a military solution that is not going to address the problem." Cassandra Butts


Jeffrey Goldberg, Washington correspondent for the New Yorker magazine

Barbara Ransby, Professor of African American Studiies and History at the University of Illinois

Cassandra Butts, classmate of Senator Obama's at Harvard Law School and part of his inner circle of advisors

Jack Beatty, On Point News Analyst

This program aired on January 17, 2007.


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