22% for Obama in CNN Poll

Barack Obama has secured 22% of support for his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the latest poll conducted by CNN/Opinion Research Corporation.

The poll which was released yesterday, was conducted between March 9 and 11, and surveyed 447 registered voters who described themselves as being Democrats. The margin of error for such a poll is plus or minus 4.5%

Hillary Clinton was still the preferred candidate, with 37% support. Third was Al Gore on 14% followed by John Edwards on 12%.

Obama's support has jumped 4% from the same poll undertaken in January.

Iraq Has Distracted America - Obama

Speaking this morning on the NBC Today show, Barack Obama again said that Iraq has distracted America from the real war on terrorism.

Obama was responding to the recent report on the confessions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that he masterminded the attacks on 9/11 and other worldwide plots that killed thousands.

Obama said that the Bush Administration had neglected to fight the real war on terror, by pursuing a failed strategy in Iraq. He again stated that there will not be a military solution in Iraq, the only way forward is through pursuing political options.

There is need to divert troops currently in Iraq to Afghanistan, where the kinds of terrorist plots Khalid Sheikh Mohammed organized have been hatched.

Barack Obama also said of Attorney General Gonzales that he has had a tendency to inject politics into decision making and that he is too close to the president. He said that this was an example of the continuing process of politicization and a lack of accountability in the Administration.

Obama was also asked about personal lives intruding into the campaign, such as questions over the former marriages of Rudy Giuliani. Obama said that he believes that people will make decisions on basis of track record, that everybody has personal issues, and what is more important is what are you, as a candidate going to do for the people of America.

Barack Obama also said that he would "absolutely not" use personal issues to attack other candidates.

CBS Poll - Obama's Standing Soars

A CBS/New York Times poll released on Monday afternoon shows that Barack Obama's favorable rating has soared amongst Democrat voters.

The poll conducted between 7 and 11 March shows that Barack Obama has a favorable rating of 54%, up from 40% in January. And his unfavorable rating is just 9%.

The favorable rating of the other leading candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards is 59% and 44% respectively.

The same poll also showed that an overwhelming majority of voters believe that the Democrats will take the White House in 2008.

Michelle Obama to Play Major Campaign Role

Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, will be playing a much larger role in his campaign for the Democratic nomination.

Many Americans got their first real glimpse of Michelle in her appearance with Barack last month on 60 minutes. (That's right, the interview where she said that he had to quit smoking)

But on Friday night in New York, Michelle took part on stage at a fundraiser for Barack at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Endorsing the qualities of her husband, Michelle said that Barack "...is really exactly who he says he is. You know, there's no hidden agenda to this guy. He is decent, he is sincere, he is authentic, he isn't manufactured."

Obama spoke after Michelle, saying that "I hate following my wife."

So was this appearance the start of something bigger for Michelle? The answer is undoubtedly, yes.

With other candidate's spouses already on the campaign trail, most prominently the husband of Hillary Clinton, Michelle's role will be stepped up over the coming year.

She has changed her job at the University of Chicago to part time, and the campaign has hired former Joe Lieberman staffer Melissa Winter to assist Michelle.

So what kind of effect can we expect from campaign appearances from Michelle Obama? Well, if her appearance on 60 minutes and the speech on Friday night are anything to go by, she can only be a major boost to the Obama 08 campaign.

But perhaps in the most ringing endorsement of her, on Friday night it was suggested that she should be the one running for President. Barack responded, "She's too smart to run. It's true my wife is smarter and better looking. She's a little meaner than I am."

Barack O'bama Has Irish Heritage Too

To coincide with St Patrick's Day this Saturday, it has been revealed that Barack Obama's maternal great great great Grandfather arrived on a ship to America from Liverpool, England.

And, yes, his birthplace was listed as Ireland.

Falmouth Kearney arrived in New York on March 20, 1850, settled originally in Ohio, then Indiana. He had 8 children, one of whom is Obama's great great grandmother.

This information comes just after it was revealed that Obama's ancestors once owned slaves, and obviously shows the diversity that makes up modern America.

No comment yet from Obama on this latest revelation - perhaps he is saving something for St Patrick's Day?

Hope Action Change - Obama Live March 31

This from the Barack Obama campaign - major community gatherings on March 31 across the country, with a discussion by Obama in the home of an Iowa family broadcast live from his website.

Kick-off the Campaign

Millions of Americans are building this campaign one community at a time. On March 31, we’ll all come together in a day of community gatherings around the theme of “Hope. Action. Change.” We’ll kick off this campaign to change America and to restore faith in our political process.

On Saturday, March 31 at 3:00 pm Central time, Barack will be speaking to a small group gathered in the home of an Iowa family. It will be a candid discussion, streamed live at www.barackobama.com, about the challenges facing us today and how we can work together to change America.

Join Barack in this discussion by opening your homes on this day and gathering friends and family to watch the live webcast. For those who would like to host an event but do not have access to the Internet, sign up to receive a conference call number to dial into and listen to the Iowa discussion.

Obama to New Hampshire this Friday

Barack Obama will be making another visit to New Hampshire this Friday for a Town Hall Forum at the Keene High School.

That's the same high school that Hillary Clinton visited mid February, with over 2500 people in attendance. It was also the visit that marked increased attention on her Iraq war stance.

Obama will be at the Keene High School Gymnasium, doors open at 6.30pm. Tickets are free but an RSVP is needed to secure a ticket.

Some people made mention about Barack Obama's Iowa schedule on the weekend that there wasn't a lot of room for questions - this forum is likely to be addressing these concerns.

Barack Obama - Move On Up

Ok, we are about 2 months late in finding this You Tube video produced by the Run Obama website. Our mistake. But in the spirit of bringing you all the best things of the campaign, we have to provide it now.

It features Barack Obama in New Hampshire late last year. And a well chosen Curtis Mayfield backing track (as featured of course in "Bend it Like Beckham" with the wonderful Parminder Nagra...)

Alright, back to the video.

Barack Obama interview in Iowa

Barack Obama conducted an interview with the Muscatine Journal on his weekend visit to Iowa. It's always good to have a solid grass roots local paper doing interviews with candidates. Doesn't happen often enough.

By Melissa Regennitter of the Muscatine Journal
MUSCATINE, Iowa — After his speech at West Middle School on Sunday, Barack Obama sat down with the Muscatine Journal for a one-on-one interview. Here are excerpts from that meeting:

Q: We always hear people talk about Midwestern values, as you did throughout your speech. What are Midwestern values, in your opinion?

A: I do think that Midwesterners are sort of no-nonsense, not a lot of hoopla. They don’t think in ideological terms, but think more in terms of how to solve problems. Now obviously these are huge generalizations, but I do think that there’s a certain sensibility that is healthy.

Q: The Iowa Legislature is considering a “fair share” bill. What is your stand on such legislation? (The bill would require employees at unionized workplaces to pay fees to a union if they are not union members.)

A: We need to restore some balance in terms of enabling unions to organize. I think that unions have been under assault for many years. A lot of that has been taking place at the federal level; it’s one of the reasons that I support the Employee Free Choice Act.... There’s a reason why we’ve seen growing inequality in this country and salaries and wages stagnating at a time when corporate profits and productivity have gone sky high, and it’s because workers are getting less of a share of what they are helping them create.Our middleclass in this country has always been built on making sure the prosperity is shared and the burdens and benefits of a free market are shared. I think unions today are an important part of it.

Q: Do you believe the federal government should play a role in school security? (Obama was briefed on local concerns regarding unfounded bomb threats at area schools and the arrest of a student who made online threats last year toward Muscatine High School.)

A: I do think that it’s important for us to have good systems in place to deal with what may be serious threats in terms of homeland security and creating systems where first responders can communicate with each other and have the equipment they need, those are important issues. But for the most part, I trust local law enforcement to deal with the kind of problems you’re talking about.

Q: Regarding the DREAM Act that is being considered by Congress: Do you support it? (The DREAM Act would allow undocumented immigrant students the opportunity to gain permanent residence status if they have lived in the United States for at least five years, and were younger than the age 16 when they came to the country.)

A: I believe in comprehensive immigration reform. I think we have to have border security (and) a tamper-proof employee verification system that ensures employers are held accountable for who they hire. With those two things in place, I think it’s also important for us to have a pathway to citizenship for the12 million or so undocumented workers who are here.I think that most Americans believe that it’s important to have some control over who comes in and who comes out of the country, and we don’t have that right now. But I think that people also believe ... that families who have been here a long time, whose children weren’t born here and have gone through the school system, that we need to give them a chance to be part of the American dream, although if they want citizenship they’ll have to probably go to the back of the line. Under the legislation we provide for, they would have to pay a fine and learn English and take a series of steps over the course of a decade before they would actually be eligible for citizenship.

Iowans Turn Out in Force for Barack Obama

Its a bit hard to believe that there is still 10 months to go before the first primary, such is the pace at which Barack Obama is campaigning around the country.

On the weekend, Obama had yet another successful visit to Iowa, having no less than 5 rallies in front of thousands of enthusiastic locals.

Obama visited Dubuque, Clinton and Davenport on Saturday and on Sunday ventured to Muscatine and Burlington. And the crowds were overflowing at each event - over 2,500 turned up in Dubuque and more than 4000 in Davenport.

Last week, Obama had a busy Senate schedule. On Friday, he conducted 2 fundraisers in New York. And this weekend, Obama is back to California for a rally in Oakland.

Much of the focus on Obama's visit to Iowa was his pledge to bring the troops home from Iraq by March of next year. Obama said that there were no good options left in Iraq, "...only bad options and worse options" and if the Iraqi Government don't make serious reforms then America is only throwing money away.

Obama also paid attention to the growing concern of Veterans' Affairs, saying that "We need to put veterans services on equal footing with other social services in this country."

20% for Barack Obama in Nevada

Barack Obama is clearly in second place in the key state of Nevada, according to a poll conducted there last week.

Hillary Clinton is still in the lead, on 32% with Obama on 20%. Following behind are former Vice President Al Gore on 11% and Vice Presidential candidate in 2004, John Edwards also on 11%. New Mexico Governor and Former General Wes Clark are both on 2%.

The poll was conducted by Research 2000 on behalf of the Reno Gazette Journal and KRNV-TV and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.

Nevada has taken on a key status in the primaries this time, coming immediately after the Iowa caucus next January and before New Hampshire. Although Barack Obama did not take part in the Democrats candidates forum last month, he did campaign in Las Vegas, and does plan o make many more trips to Nevada over the next year.

Obama to Oakland Saturday 17 March

Barack Obama will again head to California, making an appearance next weekend at a rally in Oakland. The rally will take place at the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, outside City Hall. Tickets are free, but RSVP at Barack Obama's website.

California now has a greater significance than in previous elections - the primary has been moved forward from June to early February next year. A poll taken last week had Barack Obama clearly in second place as preferred Democratic nominee on 31%. Hillary Clinton was in the lead on 41%.

California has had most of the major candidates visit since announcing their bids for the Presidency.

Ted Sorensen Backs Barack Obama

Former John F. Kennedy speechwriter and special counsel, Ted Sorensen last night endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for President.

Sorensen was speaking at a closed door $1000 a head fundraiser for Obama yesterday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York. He compared Obama's campaign to that of JFK's.

Sorensen said that “They say he’s too young, he’s too inexperienced, his demographic is wrong to get elected. They’ve decided in Washington that he doesn’t have a chance. But the campaign isn’t going on in Washington. The campaign is going on in the grassroots.”

Barack held two functions last night - the open function was attended by over 1500 people, at $100 a head each. And the guests also had the honor of listening to Barack's wife, Michelle Obama give a speech.

Michelle Obama said yesterday also that Barack is the real deal, that he "...is really exactly who he says he is. You know, there's no hidden agenda to this guy. He is decent, he is sincere, he is authentic, he isn't manufactured."

Subliminal Campaign Against Obama?

Is this the start of a subliminal smear campaign against Barack Obama by the Republicans?

Chief GOP strategist Karl Rove was in Little Rock, Arkansas yesterday giving a speech at the University of Arkansas. While he raised the issue of Obama's "experience", Rove also decided to throw in a choice word...articulate. He also labelled Obama, charismatic.

Now where have we heard that before? Oh yes, Joe Biden on the day he announced he was running for President. Biden said in a New York Observer interview that Obama was "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Biden came under serious fire for those remarks, and he was quick to apologise.

Rove is a smart guy - even his opponents admit that. Was there a chance that he used the word "articulate" without considering it's connotations and reference back to Biden? Very very doubtful.

To confirm that theory, President Bush used the same word on Fox, calling Obama "an attractive guy. He's articulate."

Are the Republicans getting worried by the increase in Barack Obama's support in recent months? Never underestimate the dog whistle tactics the GOP will employ to attack their opponents.

31% for Barack Obama in California

A comprehensive poll of 782 likely Democratic Primary voters has shown that Barack Obama is the preferred nominee by 31% of those surveyed last week.

The poll conducted by Survey USA on behalf of a number of TV news networks in California, puts Hillary Clinton in the lead on 41%. John Edwards is in third on 10% with Bill Richardson following on 4%.

California has taken on a greater significance given that the Primary has been moved forward from June to February 5, 2008. All of the major Democrat candidates have visited California in the last 2 weeks. Barack Obama held major rallies and a fundraiser there 2 weeks ago, and Hillary Clinton was involved in a clean up initiative last week. John Edwards has also been prominent, holding rallies at a number of College campuses this week.

The poll took place between 3 and 5 March and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6%.

Parking Fines Paid by Obama

Yes, this is the next story to come out about Barack Obama's past.

In January he had outstanding parking fines, dating back to between 1988 and 1991. 15 in all, for such major indiscretions of parking in a bus stop, parking without a resident permit and failing to pay the meter.

The fines which totalled $375, which included the initial fines, and associated late fees, were finally paid by Obama, 2 weeks before he announced his exploratory committee in January.

A spokesperson for Barack Obama said today that "Many people have parking tickets and late fees. All the parking tickets and late fees were paid in full."

It's not the biggest scandal is it? So it's quite possible Fox will lead with it.

Obama Supports Greater Citizenship

Barack Obama has helped introduce legislation which would freeze the cost of obtaining Citizenship in America.

The Bush Administration has proposed doubling the cost of obtaining Citizenship.

Obama's bill also calls for $80 million more to help promote Citizenship and provide grants to community groups who help people become citizens.

Speaking about the bill, Obama said that "...if you work hard, if you act responsibly, if you take care of your children, if you embrace our values, then we will work just as hard to ensure that you get a fair shot at joining the American family."

Obama Defends Investments - Has Blind Trust

Barack Obama has defended himself over allegations that he may have benefited from investments made into companies backed by some of his key donors. Obama said yesterday that he had set up a blind trust, which enabled his broker to make investments on his behalf, without his knowledge.

From AP today:

WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday he was not aware he had invested in two companies backed by some of his top donors and said he had done nothing to aid their business with the government.

The Illinois senator faced questions about more than $50,000 in investments he made right after taking office in 2005 in two speculative companies, AVI Biopharma and Skyterra Communications. Obama set up a trust that gave his broker authority to trade stocks on his behalf without his input, according to 16 pages of documents he released Wednesday.

"At no point did I know what stocks were held, and at no point did I direct how those stocks were invested," Obama told reporters at the end of a news conference called to trumpet an unrelated immigration bill.

"What I wanted to make sure is that I didn't want to invest in companies that potentially would create conflicts with my work here," said Obama, who has campaigned on the need for stronger congressional ethics rules. "Obviously, the thing didn't work the way I wanted it to."


USA Today Poll has Obama on 22%

Barack Obama has edged slightly closer to Hillary Clinton in the preferred nominee stakes, rising to 22% in the latest USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday. The same poll showed that Clinton had dropped from 40% in same poll in February to 36% in the poll conducted between March 2 and 4.

Al Gore was clearly in third place, jumping from 14% to 18%, with John Edwards dropping from 13% to 9%.

The poll also shows that Barack Obama has a solid favourable rating, rising to 58% from 53% in the February poll. In good news for the Obama camp also, his unfavourable rating is only 18%, compared to Hillary Clinton who sits on 42% for the same question.

Barack Obama and Wall Street Cash

This article appeared yesterday in the Financial Times and deals with Barack Obama's push to compete with Hillary Clinton in fundraising. And so far, he is doing well. It also looks at the issue of Barack Obama's investments, as detailed by the New York Times 2 days ago.

Obama takes on Clinton for Wall Street cash
By Ben White in New York and Edward Luce in Washington

Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential hopeful, has assembled a powerful New York fundraising machine that is posing a challenge to New York Senator Hillary Clinton's position as the dominant Democratic fundraiser on Wall Street.

Mr Obama has lined up several prominent financiers to raise cash for his presidential bid, including Eric Mindich, the former Goldman Sachs executive who founded Eton Park, the $4bn (€3bn, £2bn) hedge fund. This week Mr Obama raised money at a well-attended breakfast at Credit Suisse hosted by Steve Koch, a prominent Credit Suisse banker from Chicago.

Mr Obama has two New York fundraising events planned for tomorrow, a $2,300 per person gala for donors followed by a $100 per person event billed as "late night" with Barack Obama for younger professionals.

The Illinois senator's push is significant because analysts say if he even comes close to matching Mrs Clinton's fundraising strength in her home state it could lift his campaign. In order to maintain her momentum, Mrs Clinton needs to have raised significantly more than Mr Obama and former North Carolina senator John Edwards when figures for first-quarter fundraising are released next month. However, prominent donors suggest that Mrs Clinton is still on course to break all records for fundraising at this stage in a presidential campaign.

"I have never seen it as intense as this," said a long-standing Clinton fundraiser in Washington. "They are tapping everybody they can possibly think of: Hillary is visiting every major US city before the end of March. The pressure is intense."

Mrs Clinton is hosting a dinner at the New York Sheraton on March 18 at which 320 "bundlers" - -volunteers who have agreed to raise money from others up to the maximum legal limit of $4,600 per person - will attend. The event could raise at least $3m. Last month Mr Obama raised $1.3m at a Hollywood event, his largest taking so far.

In addition, Bill Clinton is hosting five "intimate gatherings" for his wife's campaign in New York in the next two weeks. Mr Clinton has fronted Mrs Clinton's campaign to raise $1m a week from internet donations. The former first lady has set an overall fundraising target of $15m by the end of this month.

"The March 31 deadline will be the first big test for all of the presidential candidates in the so-called 'money primary'," said Dennis Cheng, Mrs Clinton's New York campaign finance director in an e-mail to supporters this week. "We need your help to ensure that Hillary has a strong and impressive showing."

Mr Obama's campaign team has denied any impropriety in the senator's financial dealings following an article in yesterday's New York Times that detailed Mr Obama's investments in companies run by people who had donated to his political action committee, "Hope-fund". Although Mr Obama set up a blind trust in early 2005 to avoid potential conflicts of interest and although he lost $13,000 in one of the investments and gained only $2,000 from the second, the paper raised questions about how he could "unwittingly invest in two relatively obscure companies whose backers happen to include generous contributors [to his 2004 Senate campaign]".

Mr Obama's office yesterday issued a detailed response to the article and said "his dealings were completely above board". John McCain, a leading Republican candidate, told ABC News: "Senator Obama is a very honest and fine person from everything I have known about him."

Mr Obama also enjoys support from private equity executive Jamie Rubin, son of former Treasury secretary Bob Rubin, and from billionaire investor George Soros who, in an interview with the Financial Times, this week called the senator a "transformational figure" with a "fresh voice" able to help the US move beyond a period of bitter partisanship.

Obama Closes on Clinton in New Hampshire

Barack Obama is just two points behind Hillary Clinton as preferred Presidential nominee in a recent poll in New Hampshire.

The Suffolk University poll, conducted between February 24 and 28, shows that Barack Obama is the preferred nominee of 26% of those surveyed, with Hillary Clinton on 28%. But given that the margin of error for this poll is plus or minus 4%, this means the result is a statistical tie with Obama and Clinton.

John Edwards was third in the poll on 17%, with Joe Biden the closest behind him on 3%

This poll continues the trend of recent surveys which show that Obama is closing the gap on Clinton as preferred nominee.

Barack Obama in Iowa this Weekend

Barack Obama will be heading to Iowa again this weekend, in his second visit to the Hawkeye State since announcing his bid for the Presidency. Hillary Clinton was in Iowa on Sunday night and Monday, and John Edwards will be there this Friday and Saturday.

Obama will be conducting a number of town hall meetings and rallies in his two day visit. Obama might even be inclined to make some approach to former candidate and Governor, Tom Vilsack, whose endorsement would be highly prized. Rumors have surfaced that President Bill Clinton and Hillary may have already made approaches to Vilsack.

Barack Obama's schedule:

Saturday March 10




Sunday March 11



For full details or to RSVP to one of the events, head to Barack Obama's website.

Obama Comments on Libby Conviction

Barack Obama has made the following statement in response to the conviction of Scooter Libby yesterday. Libby is the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and has been convicted of perjury, obstructing justice and making false statements to federal investigators. It related to the leaking of the classified identity of a CIA employee to the media.

Barack Obama: "The conviction today underscores what happens when our foreign and national security policies are subverted by politics and ideology. Leaks and innuendo in pursuit of a flawed policy lead to shameful episodes such as this. It should never happen again."

Barack Obama in Selma, Alabama

photo: Timothy McIntyre

Barack Obama joins Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton yesterday for the 42nd anniversary of the voting rights marches in Selma, Alabama.

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.

Barack Obama spoke yesterday at the Brown Chapel AME Church - the place where the marches commenced 42 years ago.

A section of the Obama speech, where he addresses a key issue that some pundits have raised...

Full text of Barack Obama's speech at the Brown Chapel AME Church here.

Union Rally for Obama in Chicago

Barack Obama yesterday addressed a union rally in his home state of Illinois. Over 100o people turned up at the function organised by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. The Rally took place yesterday morning at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

Obama spoke to the crowd about the Employee Free Choice Act which is due to come before the Senate shortly. The Act will make it easier for unions to organize, but President Bush has already said that he would Veto the bill.

Barack Obama said that the Democratic will "pass the Employees Free Choice Act...It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. We may have to wait for the next president to pass it, but we will pass it."

Support from the Labor movement could be crucial to the success of Barack Obama in his bid for the nomination.

Obama Gains on Clinton in Newsweek Poll

Barack Obama is slowly gaining on Hillary Clinton as the preferred nominee amongst Democrat voters according to the latest Newsweek poll, which will hit the newsstands tomorrow. This follows up from the Washington Post/ABC poll released last week which also showed that Obama had narrowed the gap.

The Newsweek poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between February 28 and March 1 shows that if the contest for the nomination was between Obama and Clinton, 52% of Democrats would support Clinton, 38% Obama. The same poll conducted in January had Clinton leading 55%-35%.

And if the choice was between Barack Obama and John Edwards, Obama leads 49% to 42%.

There are positive signs also in the preferred President section of the poll. Head to Head, Barack Obama leads John McCain 45%-43% and Mitt Romney a massive 54%-34%. Rudy Giuliani has a slight edge on Obama, 48%-43%.

The Latest Barack Obama Distraction

This is the latest attempt to create a distraction for Barack Obama in his bid for the nomination. It refers to the research undertaken which suggests that Obama's ancestors were slave owners. Yes, great great great great grandfather and great great great great great grandmother.

That's a lot of greats.

Anyway, it's a distraction - but only that. I'm not sure what relevance it has to Barack Obama now. But whether it be true or not, or whether it matters, it makes for a good story. And that's what sells newspapers. Or, in the modern age, that's what keeps Fox News busy.

This is the AP article - it's probably the most informative.

WASHINGTON -- Democrat Barack Obama, who would be the first black president if elected, has white ancestors who owned slaves, according to a genealogical researcher.

The researcher, William Addams Reitwiesner , says the discovery is part of his first draft of research into Obama's roots. Obama's father was from Kenya, and his mother was a white woman from Kansas.

Obama wrote in his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," that while one of his great-great-grandfathers was a decorated Union soldier, family rumors also suggest that he is distantly related to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Reitwiesner found in 1850 Census records from Kentucky that one of Obama's great-great-great-great grandfathers, George Washington Overall, owned a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man.

The same records show that one of Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary Duvall, also owned two black slaves.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the senator's ancestors "are representative of America."
"While a relative owned slaves, another fought for the Union in the Civil War," Burton said.

"And it is a true measure of progress that the descendant of a slave owner would come to marry a student from Kenya and produce a son who would grow up to be a candidate for president of the United States."

Reitwiesner found that two other presidential candidates were descendants of slave owners: Republican John McCain and Democrat John Edwards.

Barack Obama Live Address in Selma

Barack Obama will be giving a speech tomorrow at the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma. It was outside this Church that the voting rights marches in 1965 commenced.

The address will be carried Live on C-Span. It is scheduled to start at 12.30 EST.

Check it out here.

Clooney Endorsing Barack Obama

Reports are emerging that George Clooney has publicy continued his endorsement of Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.

A month ago, Clooney told News week that he likes Obama "..I consider him a friend and I love how good he is at what he does. I am excited by him getting into the race. It energizes everything. And I would do whatever I can to help him, even if that means staying away."

And only last week, Clooney attended the fundraiser for Obama in Hollwood organized by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg

Clooney has said that Obama's vision is reminiscent of the Kennedys.

"I've never been around anybody who walks into a room and everyone just stops and listens to him," Clooney said.

"He's magnetic and charismatic in a way that we haven't had for a long time. I would certainly go out and fundraise for him."

Bush Has Failed on Iran - Obama

Barack Obama yesterday was the keynote speaker at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Forum in Chicago.

In his speech, Obama committed himself to ensuring that the security of Israel was protected. He called Israel "...our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy."

Obama also said that the United States must do more in the region. "Our job is to renew the United States’ efforts to help Israel achieve peace with its neighbors while remaining vigilant against those who do not share this vision. Our job is to do more than lay out another road map; our job is to rebuild the road to real peace and lasting security throughout the region."

Obama said that the world must stop Iran's uranium enrichment program, and stop them from getting nuclear weapons.

And he attacked President Bush over his failings on Iraq, which he said has led to a strengthened Iran. Obama said that the "...consequence of the Administration’s failed strategy in Iraq has been to strengthen Iran’s strategic position...and place Israel and other nations friendly to the United States in greater peril."

However, Obama stressed the need for caution and an increase of diplomacy.

"While we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons."

Obama - Gore Extraordinarily Formidable

Barack Obama has done the media circuit this morning, appearing in feature pieces on three of the most watched morning TV shows , NBC Today, Good Morning America on ABC and The Early Show on CBS.

Obama spoke about a range of different topics today, including the possibility that former Vice President Al Gore would consider another bid for the White House.

Obama said of Gore that he would be extraordinarily formidable and "...would have as good a resume as anyone in the field - better than anybody in the field."

On the issue of the the Clinton flare up last week, Obama said he wants to take the high road from now and in the future his campaign would show restraint when considering a response.

Obama also told ABC that perhaps the campaign team should have left the issue entirely alone, although it was something that required a response, but probably in a more restrained way.

He also said that the best way to respond was with the truth.

On the Selma visit this weekend, it was announced that Bill Clinton will also be accompanying Hillary for the march, his first public appearance with her since she announced a run.

Obama said this weekend was particularly important - that he wouldn't be where he is today without the Civil Rights movement. He said that Selma "...represents some of the best moments in American history, where ordinary people stood up to injustice."

Obama Does the TV Rounds Today

Barack Obama is this morning doing the rounds of the major national morning shows.

First up, Obama will be on NBC's Today Show with Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera. He will follow that with ABC's Good Morning America, and then CBS's The Early Show.

Does Obama have something important to say on Friday Morning? We await with interest.

Tomorrow Obama will be in Illinois for a AFSCME rally, and on Sunday will head to Selma, Alabama to take part in the the annual march to commemorate the voting rights marches in 1965.

McCain Joins Obama on Campaign Funding

John McCain said yesterday that like Barack Obama, he would utilise the public funding option for his campaign if he is chosen as the nominee for President, and agreement is reached with the Democrat nominee to do the same.

Earlier in February, Obama posed a question to the Federal Election Commission, asking if he could rasie funds in the meantime, but if agreement is reached between Democrat and GOP nominees to use the public funds, then monies raised until that point be given back to donors.

The FEC agreed this week to the proposal.

Both Obama and McCain have long supported public financing of elections. McCain has a strong record on supporting campaign finance reforms, a position which has not been popular amongst some of his GOP colleagues.

McCain's manager said yesterday that "Should John McCain win the Republican nomination, we will agree to accept public financing in the general election, if the Democratic nominee agrees to do the same."

A spokesperson for Obama said that he hoped that each of the Republican candidates would promise to do the same.

Bono meets with Barack Obama

U2's Bono met with Barack Obama on Tuesday to discuss foreign assistance to deal with poverty and global health problems. They also discussed the One Campaign which is a non-profit organization Bono helped form to combat Aids and global poverty.

The meeting took place in Washington D.C at Obama's Senate office.

Obama's spokesperson said that the two met for about half an hour. He said that "...Bono was making rounds on Capitol Hill to build support for the One campaign."

"He particularly wanted to meet with Senator Obama since he's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and has been active on international poverty and global health issues."

Bono has apparently also met with other Presidential hopefuls, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Obama Opening Doors for America's Workers

Barack Obama will be back in his home state of Illinois this Saturday. He will attend the Opening the Doors for America's Workers event organized by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

Obama is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the rally "...that will bring together labor, political, religious and community leaders in support of the Employee Free Choice Act and Resurrection Health Care workers who are seeking to become part of AFSCME."

The event will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago at 10am. It is scheduled to run for 2 hours. To signup to the event, head here.