The latest Washington Post poll shows that Barack Obama is gaining on Hillary Clinton as preferred Democratic nominee for President.
While Obama trailed Clinton in the same poll in January, 41%-17%, he is now only 12 points behind, 36%-24%. Al Gore was in third place on 14%, with John Edwards on 12%. Gore has risen from 10% in the January poll.
And in good news for the Obama campaign, black democrat voters now prefer Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton 44%-33%. The last poll conducted by the Washington Post/ABC in January had Clinton in the lead amongst black voters, 60%-20%.
In addition, Obama's favorable rating improved since January, to 53% in the latest poll.
This is the second poll released this week that shows that Barack Obama has narrowed the gap with Hillary Clinton.
The latest Washington Post poll shows that Barack Obama is gaining on Hillary Clinton as preferred Democratic nominee for President.
Barack Obama will be in Selma, Alabama this Sunday, to take part in the annual march to commemorate the voting rights marches in 1965.
Obama will speak at the Brown Chapel AME Chapel Church, and will also join Civil Rights veterans on the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Hilary Clinton will also join the march.
The Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches in 1965 drew international attention when Governor George Wallace ordered state troopers to break up the demonstrations. Troopers used sticks, whips and tear gas to disperse the crowd - all of which was captured on footage shown around the world.
The march was a major turning point for the civil rights movement, contributing to the introduction of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But most probably it is the attendance of the main guest that ensures the crowd is going to be rocked. Oh yes, that's Barack Obama.
In Cleveland this evening, it was a sold out event. Thousands...again. 1700 in the hall alone, and many more in neighbouring rooms. An estimated 7,000 in all. Wow.
Add that to the fact that Obama raised over $400,000 from 3 fundraisers in Ohio earlier on, and it has been one almighty day.
The latest Zogby International poll released today shows that Barack Obama is gaining on Hillary Clinton as the preferred Democratic nominee.
The telephone survey of 439 Democrat voters conducted in the last week, shows that Obama is on 25%, with Clinton on 33%. This is a gain of 11% for Obama since the last Zogby poll 6 weeks ago.
John Edwards is still in third place, on 12%.
And in even better news for the Obama camp, the survey of 1078 likely voters shows that he would defeat the leading major Republican candidates in a Presidential race. Obama leads Rudy Giuliani 46-40, John McCain 44-40 and Mitt Romney 51-29.
Barack Obama was in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday and was greeted by a crowd of 3000 enthusiastic locals who had paid $25 a head for the opportunity to hear him speak.
He later went on to another higher priced fundraiser at the Henry Clay Hotel.
This has been a long 2 weeks of campaign events and fundraising from Obama. And it wont be stopping just yet.
Obama will be in Cincinnati first thing this morning for a breakfast fundraiser, followed by a luncheon in Columbus.
And this afternoon, he will be in Cleveland, Ohio at the Cuyahoga Community College at 6pm. The event is already booked out.
The Federal Election Commission have released a draft which supports in principle the question posed by Barack Obama regarding public funding for a Presidential campaign.
Obama would like to be able to raise funds between now and the election, but if agreement is reached with the Republican nominee to use the public funding option, that monies raised can be then given back to donors.
A campaign without public funding could cost each campaign as much as $500 million. Public funding would net each candidate an estimated $85 million.
Leading Democrats, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have already said that they would forgo the public finance option. Opting out of the public finance option means that candidates have no spending limits.
The draft plan from the FEC supports Obama in principle, but it will be discussed further at their next meeting on March 1.
Barack Obama has long been an advocate for public funding for election campaigns.
Close to 20,000 people came to hear Barack Obama this afternoon, as he turned it on in Austin, Texas. This was the biggest rally of its kind in living memory in Texas. And it's important for the Obama campaign - this is a State with strong ties to the Clinton family.
Obama spoke again of his commitment of turning the country's attention to health care, education and ending the war in Iraq. He also spoke of the need to focus on the rebuilding of New Orleans, saying that the city still looked like a war had been fought there.
This was his first trip to Texas since making the announcement on February 10 that he would seek the nomination.
Last night Obama was at a fundraiser in Houston, his second for the day.
Barack Obama has released the following statement regarding the decision of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to withdraw from the race for the Democratic nomination.
“Tom Vilsack is an outstanding public servant whose initiatives in Iowa on education reform, health care and alternative energy are models from which our entire nation can learn. More than that, Tom brings a badly needed sense of honor and decency to our politics, and a passionate advocacy for an end to the war in Iraq. I hope he will continue to speak out in the months and years to come, as his is an important and valued voice.”
But Oprah has today appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show, and given her take on the Barack Obama campaign.
Oprah said of Obama that she doesn't "...just love him. I respect him. I think he's a fresh new voice in politics. I think what he can do for this country would be amazing."
Daschle said that Barack Obama has a "...great capacity to unify our country and inspire a new generation of young Americans, just as I was inspired by the Kennedy's and Martin Luther King when I was young."
Barack Obama last night had another successful campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa. Obama had visited Iowa immediately after he made the announcement on February 10, but even so, over 2000 people arrived to hear him speak at the Polk County Convention Complex.
Other candidates for the Democratic nomination were yesterday in Carson City, Nevada for a forum organised by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton today argued over the support of David Geffen, the Dreamworks movie studio founder.
Last night, Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Stephen Spielberg organized a fundraiser for Obama in Hollywood which netted his campaign around $1.3 million.
Today it was reported that Geffen made some comments to the New York Times which incensed the Clinton team. He said that Hillary Clinton was a polarizing and ambitious figure, and that Bill Clinton was a reckless guy.
The Clinton camp hit back, with Communications Director Howard Wolfson issuing a strongly worded press statement:
"While Senator Obama was denouncing slash and burn politics yesterday, his campaign's finance chair was viciously and personally attacking Senator Clinton and her husband.
"If Senator Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign and return his money.
Then the Obama camp responded, with Communications director Robert Gibbs issuing his own statement:
"We aren't going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clinton's had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom."
Gibbs then went on to refer to the remarks made by South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford, who said that if Obama was to win the nomination, the Democrats would lose the House, the Senate and the Governors, because he is black.
In his statement Gibbs said that "It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina state Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because 'he's black'."
That's not a bad point. We understand that Geffen is not the campaign finance chair, as alleged by Wolfson. Therefore his comments are those of a private individual and donor to the Obama campaign. Asking for the money to be returned is taking things a little too far.
But, as with any issue involving the Obama and Clinton campaigns, this will have a little way to go yet. Let's wait and see what Clinton and Obama have to say today during their campaign stops.
Clinton is in Carson City for the candidates forum, while Obama will be in Iowa tonight for a rally.
Barack Obama will be heading to the Buckeye State next Monday for two fundraisers and a campaign event in the evening.
Obama is scheduled to be in Cincinnati first thing for a breakfast fundraiser, followed by a luncheon in Columbus.
He will then be off to Cleveland for a rally at the Cuyahoga Community College, at 6pm. Doors open at 4.30pm, the event is free but RSVP here to secure a ticket.
Obama spoke about the key issues that he has focused on in previous speeches - education, health care and the Iraq war. But he also touched on the sense that African American communities had been left behind by the Bush Administration.
He will be heading to Des Moines, Iowa this afternoon for a Town Hall Meeting.
Other Democratic candidates will today be in Carson City, Nevada for a forum. Obama has said that he had a prior commitment to be in Iowa, but will be returning to Nevada to campaign again.
The fundraiser last night organized by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg for Barack Obama brought in over $1.3 million for his campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Geffen and Katzenberg are endorsing Obama, but Spielberg has yet to say which candidate he will be supporting. He is also very close to the Clintons.
Last night, over 600 people attended the function for Obama, and guests included George Clooney, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Aniston.
Boxer has just announced that she will be contesting the 2010 election, and is getting in early with fundraising. There is speculation that Arnold Schwarzenegger may contest the Senate position in 2010 when his term as Governor expires.
Last night, the fundraiser put at least $350,000 extra in her campaign account, thanks to the 1400 people who turned out for her...and also perhaps to hear Obama speak.
Barack Obama will today be in Los Angeles for a rally at the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex at 2pm followed by a fundraiser organized by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg tonight.
On Wednesday night, Obama will be in Des Moines, Iowa for a Town Hall meeting at the Polk County Convention Complex at 7.45pm - doors open 6.45pm.
Tonight, Barack Obama will be the guest of honor at a fundraiser hosted in Hollywood by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The event which costs $2300 a head, is being attended by some of Hollywood's biggest names. And many of those that can't attend have sent a cheque.
The guest list tonight includes Eddie Murphy, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Aniston and Denzel Washington.
Barack Obama will be expected to raise about $1 million in one night. The function was initially set for an attendance of 400. It is expected that the event might draw in 600, which will be a capacity crowd.
Barack Obama has secured the support of the former Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Dick Harpootlian.
Harpootlian said that Obama has a strong magnetism, similar to that of President Bill Clinton.
The current chairman of the South Carolina Democrats, Richard Cranwell, last week endorsed John Edwards. And today, Hillary Clinton announced that a number of current and former State Representatives had endorsed her bid for the nomination.
Obama won't be taking part in the candidate's forum in Carson City on Wednesday - the only declared candidate not attending.
However, Obama's spokesperson said that this is not an indication that the campaign isn't taking Nevada seriously. It is.
And Nevada Democratic Chairman Tom Collins said that he is sure that Obama will be coming back and back.
Obama spoke today about his main campaign themes, education, health care and his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq by March next year.
Barack Obama yesterday responded to South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford, who said on Thursday that if Obama was the nominee, the Democrats would lose the House, the Senate and the Governors, simply because he is black.
Obama yesterday said that at every turn in America's history there has been someone who said that we cant do something. He said that "Some people said we can't do this, we can't do that, so we shouldn't even try. If I have your support, if I have your energy and involvement and commitment and ideas, then I'm here to tell you, Yes we can."
Ford helped to mobilize the black vote in South Carolina in 2004 for John Edwards, but last week said this time he would be endorsing Hillary Clinton. He thinks that Clinton is the only candidate who can win the Presidency.
Over 2000 excited locals greeted Barack Obama in Orangeburg, South Carolina yesterday morning, his second campaign rally in that state since announcing his candidacy.
Obama was introduced at the rally by US Representative, James Clyburn. Clyburn will not formally endorse any candidate but apparently interrupted his schedule to make the introduction. He said that Barack Obama was able to run for the nomination "...because Rosa Parks sat down and Septima Clark stood up."
Yesterday afternoon, Obama travelled back to Washington to vote on the Senate Iraq resolution, before heading to Richmond Virgina last night.
As expected, the Governor of Virginia Tim Kaine endorsed Obama yesterday afternoon, at a press conference at the Governor's mansion, saying that Obama is the right candidate. He said that Obama brings excellence that begins with values.
And again the crowd joined in the rally cry of "Yes We Can", what is fast becoming a much recognized campaign slogan.
Tomorrow promises to be a busy day for Obama. In the morning he is scheduled to attend a rally at Claflin University at 10am and then will head back to Washington to vote on the Senate Iraq resolution which has just passed in the House.
Then tomorrow night he heads to Richmond, Virgina to give the keynote speech at the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner.
Barack Obama has a busy weekend schedule ahead of him...but then again, what else would you expect from a candidate who announced just 6 days ago.
Today Obama will be in Colombia, South Carolina for a rally at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center at 4.30pm.
Tomorrow, he heads to Orangeburg, for an event at Claflin University at 10am.
Obama will follow South Carolina with a visit to Richmond, Virginia tomorrow night, where he will give the keynote address at the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner. It is expected that Governor Tim Kaine will be announcing his endorsement of Obama at that event. The $250 a head dinner for over 3000 people is sold out.
On Sunday, Barack Obama heads to Las Vegas, Nevada, for a rally at the Clark County Government Center, at 12pm.
Next Tuesday, Obama will be in Los Angeles for a rally at the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex at 2pm. Obama will also take part in a fundraiser organized by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. The event is $2100 per head.
On Wednesday, while other candidates take part in a forum in Nevada, Obama will be campaigning in Iowa.
Then next Friday, he is off to Austin, Texas for a rally at the University of Texas at 2pm.
Barack Obama is still in a strong second place in a poll released yesterday by USA Today. The poll was conducted over the weekend, 9-11 February, just prior and immediately after his announcement in Springfield.
Hillary Clinton leads the poll on 40% with Obama on 21%. Al Gore, who has not yet declared if he will run, was third on 14% with John Edwards on 13%. However, in a choice between Clinton and Obama as the preferred nominee, Hillary leads Obama 62%-33%.
Obama also scored highly on the favorable rating, up from 40% in January to 53% in the latest poll. And he was even on the question of preferred President with John McCain, on 48% each, but was trailing Rudy Giuliani 43%-52%.
The poll has a margin of error of 3%.
Barack Obama will be in Richmond this Saturday night, to give the keynote address at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. Over 3000 people have paid $250 to attend the sold out event.
Obama campaigned for Kaine in his race to be Governor, and was also in Virginia to help Jim Webb defeat George Allen for the Senate in last year's mid terms.
Barack Obama has apologized for a statement he made in Iowa on the weekend. Obama said that the war in Iraq had cost over $400 billion and has seen "...over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted."
Obama immediately knew that he had misspoken and labelled the words a slip of the tongue. He said that sacrifices are never wasted.
Obama apologised to the military families saying that he absolutely apologizes "if any of them felt that in some ways it had diminished the enormous courage and sacrifice that they'd shown."
He said that he had intended his remarks to be a criticism of the civilian leadership of the war, not the military.
This campaign has a long way to go, and as we found out with Joe Biden's words 2 weeks ago, and John Kerry's during the mid terms, one slip up can cause a lot of damage. And with the media covering Obama's every word, he is going to have to be on top of his game every step of the way for at least the next 12 months.
This from the Boston Herald, who were covering the trips of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire over the weekend and Monday. It's not a bad thing when you are capturing the minds of the media.
"As for Barack Obama: The hackneyed phrase “rock star” doesn’t begin to capture it. Rarely will you see someone so at ease with a crowd. At the University of New Hampshire he came across more as the most popular professor on campus. He even talks like it. Long, nuanced replies. That mellifluous voice.
This should not be a surprise: He was a law professor at the University of Chicago - ironically, America’s top conservative school - for 10 years before going into politics.
After Obama finished speaking he made his way through the crowd - shaking hands, grinning, joking, laughing - toward the door."
Hillary Clinton has this morning released a statement that seeks to clarify her position on the Iraq war. Obama on the weekend said that he wasn't quite sure what Clinton's plan was to end the war in Iraq.
Clinton's statement this morning is a direct response to Obama's remarks.
Check out what she said here:
Hillary Clinton 2008: Clinton Hits Back At Obama
Barack Obama has been challenged to a debate by former Governor of Iowa, and declared candidate for the Democratic nomination, Tom Vilsack.
Vilsack and the other declared candidates will be taking part in a forum on February 21 in Carson City, Nevada. However, Obama will not be attending, choosing instead to campaign in Iowa.
Vilsack has offered to fly out after the forum in Carson City and meet Obama for a debate in Iowa that night.
Obama's campaign have so far not taken up the offer.
Barack Obama will head to Austin, Texas on February 23, to speak at the University of Texas.
The event will take place at the Gregory Gym, at 2pm, doors open 1pm. Tickets are required, but entry is free. The capacity of the Gym is about 5,000, but like the Obama rallies so far, that will fill quickly.
RSVP here for tickets.
Obama's visit is being organized by the University Democrats, African American Cultural Committee, and Texans for Obama.
But Obama didn't just do the traditional stage managed rally - he also did a street walk, meeting and greeting locals in the style they have become accustomed to in the Granite State. And he also attended a house party, with about 60 activists.
New Hampshire has had a busy long weekend, with Hillary Clinton wrapping up her tour last night. And this is just the beginning.
Obama will tonight head to Washington as the Senate reconvenes, but later in the week will head to South Carolina to continue his campaign. He then heads to Virgina, and on to California and Texas next week.
Barack Obama will be heading to Los Angeles on February 20, at the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex. The event will be held at 2pm, and is free.
Head to Obama's site to secure a ticket.
If the size of the previous events are anything to go by, getting a ticket would be advised.
The Australian Opposition party has sought to censure the Prime Minister, John Howard over his attack Sunday on Barack Obama and the Democrats.
The Labor Party moved a censure motion against Howard in the Australian Parliament, Monday afternoon Australian time.
The Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd said of Howard's comments that it was a grave error of judgement. He has also said that Howard is in danger of damaging the alliance between Australia and the United States, forged during the second world war in 1941.
Rudd also made it clear that Howard's comments went further than just attacking Obama. He said that it was a most serious charge to "...accuse the Democratic Party of the United States of being al-Qaeda's party of choice, to accuse the Democratic party of being the terrorists' party of choice, to accuse the party of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson of being the terrorists' party of choice."
The opposition Labor party have been opposed to the Iraq war since the beginning, and like Obama, have pledged to bring troops home.
Howard is coming under fire in Australia from the media and in the Parliament for his attack on Barack Obama.
But Howard has refused to withdraw his statement.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has refused to back away from his comments Sunday morning that Barack Obama's plan to withdraw troops would be a victory for terrorists.
Howard was speaking in Parliament, Monday afternoon Australian time, and said that he will not retract the comments he made on Sunday. He said that if he hears a policy advocated that is contrary to Australia's security interests he will criticise it.
John Howard also said that if America was to bring their troops home in the early part of next year, it would represent a defeat in Iraq.
It is not common for an Australian senior political figure to criticise a candidate for office in another country, and Howard has come under fire from the Labor opposition and some sections of the media for his statements.
Obama has said that Howard's statements are empty rhetoric if he wont back up his statement by sending more Australian troops to Iraq.
Australia currently have 1,400 troops in Iraq compared with America's 140,000. Australian troops have not suffered any combat fatalities during their 4 years there.
Prime Minister Howard is a close friend and ally of President Bush.
These are John Howard's comments from Sunday morning.
LAURIE OAKES: On that subject, Senator Barack Obama's announced overnight he's running for the Democrat Presidential nomination, and he says if he gets it he has a plan to bring troops home by March, 2008 and his direct quote is "Letting the Iraqis know we'll not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunies and Shiah to come to the table and find peace". So, basically he's agreeing with the Labor Party.
JOHN HOWARD: Yes, I think he's wrong, I mean, he's a long way from being President of the United States. I think he's wrong. I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for Obama victory.
If I was running Al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.
LAURIE OAKES: If he wins, and you're still there, bad news for the alliance.
JOHN HOWARD: Well I tell you what would be even worse news for the fight against terrorism, if America is defeated in Iraq. I mean, we have to understand what we are dealing with. We're dealing here with a situation where if America pulls out of Iraq in March 2008. It can only be in circumstances of defeat. There's no way by March 2008, which is a little over a year from now, everything will have been stabilised so that America can get out in March 2008.
And, if America is defeated in Iraq, the hope of ever getting a Palestinian settlement will be gone. There'll be enormous conflict between the Shi'a and the Sunnis throughout the whole of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Jordan will both be (destabilised), Al-Qaeda will trumpet it as the greatest victory they've ever had and that will have implications in our region because of the link, the ideological link at the very least, between the Al-Qaeda and JI.
At least 7,000 people braved the cold this afternoon as they waited to hear Barack Obama speak at a rally at the University of Illinois.
Some people had arrived up to 6 hours earlier than the expected kick off time late this afternoon.
Those in the crowd waved Obama 08 placards and cheered as he arrived slightly late from Iowa due to bad weather.
Tonight, Obama will attend a fundraiser, before heading to New Hampshire tomorrow. The granite state has had a busy weekend - Hillary Clinton is completing her weekend tour there this evening.
Obama continued his push to bring the troops home from Iraq, and also spoke on health care, education and energy.
Barack Obama also secured the support today of two key Iowan Democrats, Attorney General Tom Miller and State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald. They are supporting Obama despite having served under former Governor and Democratic nominee, Tom Vilsack.
Barack Obama has hit back at the Conservative Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, after he said that al-Qaeda could take comfort from Obama's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq by next March.
Mr Howard was interviewed yesterday morning Australian time on the "Sunday" television Program. He said that if he were running al-Qaeda in Iraq he would "put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama but also for the Democrats."
John Howard is a good friend and strong supporter of President Bush.
But Barack Obama hit back, saying that Mr Howard should put troops where his mouth is. He noted that America has "...close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1,400, so if he is to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq."
Obama said that if John Howard didn't take up his invitation, his attack on him would be nothing more than empty rhetoric.
The Australian Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd said that Mr Howard had allowed his personal relationship with President Bush cloud his judgement. He said the attack on Barack Obama was short sighted and irresponsible.
The Australian opposition Labor party has opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, and would withdraw Australian troops if elected.
Barack Obama's reponse at a news conference, reported by Fox News.
Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago has publicly backed Barack Obama in his bid for the Democratic Nomination.
The Daley family has a long relationship with the Clinton family, so whilst this wouldn't have been easy to break to Hillary, one also wouldn't expect Daley to do anything other than support his own state's Senator.
Mayor Daley said that he has spoken to Hillary Clinton and said that she understands why he made the decision to support Obama.
Daley has said that Obama has the best chance to turn around a dysfunctional government.
Former Commerce Secretary in the Clinton Administration and brother of the Mayor, Bill Daley will also be supporting Obama's bid for the nomination.
Barack Obama will give the keynote address next Saturday night at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in Richmond.
The dinner is already sold out - over 3000 people have paid $250 a head for the privilege to attend.
This event will come after a busy week for Obama - after completing the first days after his announcement in Chicago, Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama heads to South Carolina for two days before arriving in Virginia.
And to think, its just a short 12 months to go...
Obama had earlier been in Cedar Rapids where over 2500 heard Obama speak at the Kennedy High School. And an estimated 16,000 saw him give the announcement that he would run for President yesterday morning in Springfield, Illinois.
Barack Obama will today visit the Iowa State University in Ames, before heading back to Chicago tonight. Obama will be in New Hampshire tomorrow.
Obama continued his message of universal health care, providing better education opportunities and addressing the energy crisis and global warming. Iowa is a key state to engage the energy debate - as a major ethanol producer, Democrat voters will respond positively to sympathetic candidates.
And Obama again spoke of the need to end the war in Iraq, and repeated his plan to bring the troops home by March 2008.
Yesterday morning, in Springfield, Illinois, it has been reported that as many as 16,000 people braved the freezing temperature to watch and listen Obama announce that he is running for President.
This is the full prepared text of the Barack Obama announcement speech this morning, which has been released by the Obama campaign.
Let me begin by saying thanks to all you who've traveled, from far and wide, to brave the cold today.
We all made this journey for a reason. It's humbling, but in my heart I know you didn't come here just for me, you came here because you believe in what this country can be. In the face of war, you believe there can be peace. In the face of despair, you believe there can be hope. In the face of a politics that's shut you out, that's told you to settle, that's divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what's possible, building that more perfect union.
That's the journey we're on today. But let me tell you how I came to be here. As most of you know, I am not a native of this great state. I moved to Illinois over two decades ago. I was a young man then, just a year out of college; I knew no one in Chicago, was without money or family connections. But a group of churches had offered me a job as a community organizer for $13,000 a year. And I accepted the job, sight unseen, motivated then by a single, simple, powerful idea -- that I might play a small part in building a better America.
My work took me to some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods. I joined with pastors and lay-people to deal with communities that had been ravaged by plant closings. I saw that the problems people faced weren't simply local in nature -- that the decision to close a steel mill was made by distant executives; that the lack of textbooks and computers in schools could be traced to the skewed priorities of politicians a thousand miles away; and that when a child turns to violence, there's a hole in his heart no government could ever fill.
It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith.
After three years of this work, I went to law school, because I wanted to understand how the law should work for those in need. I became a civil rights lawyer, and taught constitutional law, and after a time, I came to understand that our cherished rights of liberty and equality depend on the active participation of an awakened electorate. It was with these ideas in mind that I arrived in this capital city as a state Senator.
It was here, in Springfield, where I saw all that is America converge -- farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. I made lasting friendships here -- friends that I see in the audience today.
It was here we learned to disagree without being disagreeable -- that it's possible to compromise so long as you know those principles that can never be compromised; and that so long as we're willing to listen to each other, we can assume the best in people instead of the worst.
That's why we were able to reform a death penalty system that was broken. That's why we were able to give health insurance to children in need. That's why we made the tax system more fair and just for working families, and that's why we passed ethics reforms that the cynics said could never, ever be passed.
It was here, in Springfield, where North, South, East and West come together that I was reminded of the essential decency of the American people -- where I came to believe that through this decency, we can build a more hopeful America.
And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.
I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness -- a certain audacity -- to this announcement. 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.
The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we've changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King's call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more -- and it is time for our generation to answer that call.
For that is our unyielding faith -- that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.
That's what Abraham Lincoln understood. He had his doubts. He had his defeats. He had his setbacks. But through his will and his words, he moved a nation and helped free a people. It is because of the millions who rallied to his cause that we are no longer divided, North and South, slave and free. It is because men and women of every race, from every walk of life, continued to march for freedom long after Lincoln was laid to rest, that today we have the chance to face the challenges of this millennium together, as one people -- as Americans.
All of us know what those challenges are today -- a war with no end, a dependence on oil that threatens our future, schools where too many children aren't learning, and families struggling paycheck to paycheck despite working as hard as they can. We know the challenges. We've heard them. We've talked about them for years.
What's stopped us from meeting these challenges is not the absence of sound policies and sensible plans. What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics -- the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.
For the last six years we've been told that our mounting debts don't matter, we've been told that the anxiety Americans feel about rising health care costs and stagnant wages are an illusion, we've been told that climate change is a hoax, and that tough talk and an ill-conceived war can replace diplomacy, and strategy, and foresight. And when all else fails, when Katrina happens, or the death toll in Iraq mounts, we've been told that our crises are somebody else's fault. We're distracted from our real failures, and told to blame the other party, or gay people, or immigrants.
And as people have looked away in disillusionment and frustration, we know what's filled the void. The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this government, but we're here today to take it back. The time for that politics is over. It's time to turn the page.
We've made some progress already. I was proud to help lead the fight in Congress that led to the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.
But Washington has a long way to go. And it won't be easy. That's why we'll have to set priorities. We'll have to make hard choices. And although government will play a crucial role in bringing about the changes we need, more money and programs alone will not get us where we need to go. Each of us, in our own lives, will have to accept responsibility -- for instilling an ethic of achievement in our children, for adapting to a more competitive economy, for strengthening our communities, and sharing some measure of sacrifice. So let us begin. Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation.
Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let's set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let's recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.
And as our economy changes, let's be the generation that ensures our nation's workers are sharing in our prosperity. Let's protect the hard-earned benefits their companies have promised. Let's make it possible for hardworking Americans to save for retirement. And let's allow our unions and their organizers to lift up this country's middle class again.
Let's be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let's do this.
Let's be the generation that finally tackles our health care crisis. We can control costs by focusing on prevention, by providing better treatment to the chronically ill, and using technology to cut the bureaucracy. Let's be the generation that says right here, right now, that we will have universal health care in America by the end of the next president's first term.
Let's be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil. We can harness homegrown, alternative fuels like ethanol and spur the production of more fuel-efficient cars. We can set up a system for capping greenhouse gases. We can turn this crisis of global warming into a moment of opportunity for innovation, and job creation, and an incentive for businesses that will serve as a model for the world. Let's be the generation that makes future generations proud of what we did here.
Most of all, let's be the generation that never forgets what happened on that September day and confront the terrorists with everything we've got. Politics doesn't have to divide us on this anymore -- we can work together to keep our country safe. I've worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law that will secure and destroy some of the world's deadliest, unguarded weapons. We can work together to track terrorists down with a stronger military, we can tighten the net around their finances, and we can improve our intelligence capabilities. But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding our alliances and exporting those ideals that bring hope and opportunity to millions around the globe.
But all of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq. Most of you know I opposed this war from the start. I thought it was a tragic mistake. Today we grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, the hearts that have been broken, and the young lives that could have been. America, it's time to start bringing our troops home. It's time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else's civil war. That's why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008. Letting the Iraqis know that we will not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace.
Finally, there is one other thing that is not too late to get right about this war -- and that is the homecoming of the men and women - our veterans -- who have sacrificed the most. Let us honor their valor by providing the care they need and rebuilding the military they love. Let us be the generation that begins this work.
I know there are those who don't believe we can do all these things. I understand the skepticism. After all, every four years, candidates from both parties make similar promises, and I expect this year will be no different. All of us running for president will travel around the country offering ten-point plans and making grand speeches; all of us will trumpet those qualities we believe make us uniquely qualified to lead the country. But too many times, after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.
That is why this campaign can't only be about me. It must be about us -- it must be about what we can do together. This campaign must be the occasion, the vehicle, of your hopes, and your dreams. It will take your time, your energy, and your advice -- to push us forward when we're doing right, and to let us know when we're not. 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.
By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail.
But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible.
He tells us that there is power in words.
He tells us that there is power in conviction.
That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people.
He tells us that there is power in hope.
As Lincoln organized the forces arrayed against slavery, he was heard to say: "Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought to battle through."
That is our purpose here today.
That's why I'm in this race.
Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation.
I want to win that next battle -- for justice and opportunity.
I want to win that next battle -- for better schools, and better jobs, and health care for all.
I want us to take up the unfinished business of perfecting our union, and building a better America.
And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.
This is the same building that Abraham Lincoln gave his famous "House Divided" speech in 1858 that opposed slavery.
"We can build a more hopeful America, and that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States."
Obama spoke this morning about the key issues of education and health care, and about bringing the troops home from Iraq. Obama has been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.
Barack Obama heads to Iowa later today to start the tour of the first primary state. Then its back to Chicago tomorrow night before heading to New Hampshire on Monday.
And next weekend, Obama will tour South Carolina.
The demand has been so great for Obama's Iowa visit, that one of the meetings has been moved to a bigger venue.
The event that was previously to be held at the Iowa State University in Ames, Beyer Gymnasium, has now been moved to the much bigger Hilton Coliseum.
This from the website.
Senator Barack Obama is coming to Iowa for his announcement tour this weekend, and he is in Ames on Sunday, February 11th at the Hilton Coliseum at Iowa State University on Union Drive. Doors open at 11:00 AM
This event is free and open to the public, but that you will need a ticket to attend. We really hope you can you make it!
Location: Hilton Colliseum at Iowa State University
Address: Hilton Coliseum Iowa State University, Ames
Local Contact: 515-450-6945
Barack Obama will be in South Carolina next week, February 16 and 17. We understand that he plans to visit Orangeburg and Colombia.
South Carolina will hold the first southern Democratic primary early in 2008.
John Edwards campaigned there yesterday, and drew a crowd of over 500 to a town hall style meeting. He won the primary in South Carolina in 2004, and as a former local, would be expected to do well again.
Released in Time Magazine yesterday, the search patterns of 10 million Internet users regarding Barack Obama. Have a look at some the most used search terms.
The story also suggests that Obama has a lead of 17% over Hillary Clinton in searches, with John Edwards on less than half of Obama searches. Interesting.
barak obama muslim
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Source - Hitwise