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Originally posted by the Chicago Sun-Times, 11/4/04Obama for president? That's 'silly'
November 4, 2004
BY SCOTT FORNEK Political Reporter
Ridiculing it as "a silly question," Democrat Barack Obama pledged Wednesday he would resist any overtures to run for president or vice president before the end of his six-year term as a U.S. senator.
"I was elected yesterday," Obama said. "I have never set foot in the U.S. Senate. I've never worked in Washington. And the notion that somehow I'm immediately going to start running for higher office just doesn't make sense.
"So look, I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years, and my entire focus is making sure that I'm the best possible senator on behalf of the people of Illinois."
One day after the state senator from Hyde Park rewrote history by winning the most lopsided U.S. Senate contest ever in Illinois, Obama was doing his best to lower expectations -- about his roles as the nation's only black U.S. senator and a rising Democratic star.
"Look, I'm a state senator who hasn't even been sworn in yet," Obama said." My understanding is that I will be ranked 99th in seniority. ... I'm going to be spending the first several months of my career in the U.S. Senate looking for the washroom and trying to figure out how the phones work."
Obama trounced Republican Alan Keyes Tuesday, 70 percent to 27 percent with 98 percent of the precincts counted.
That 43 percentage-point lead bests the previous record for a U.S. Senate race in Illinois. That was when Republican William B. McKinley beat Democrat Peter A. Waller by 40 percentage points in 1920.
Testy exchange with reporter
But despite that historic victory, Obama was cranky at times when he met with reporters at his campaign headquarters Wednesday. He brushed aside a question from Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet when she interrupted his answer several times asking for more specifics.
"Lynn, you're dictating the answers as well as the questions," Obama said. "Let me move on to the next question."
After the news conference, Obama complained to Sweet "this is like the fifth time you've done this," before walking her into a hallway for a private discussion. Obama's aides said he was just tired after the long hours of the 21-month campaign.
The U.S. senator-elect readily shared his thoughts on President Bush's victory, the challenges facing Democrats nationally and his own plans to establish "a top-flight constituent service office" and travel the state to thank and listen to Democrats and Republicans alike to devise "concrete ways" to improve jobs, education and health care in Illinois.
"And that's my complete and total focus during this new adventure that I'm walking into," he said.
But he seemed less comfortable discussing his own role as a rising national star.
"It's important for me to show the voters of Illinois the degree to which I am concerned with the people of Illinois, because I think that the hype that's surrounded my campaign during this last phase needs to be corrected," he said. "People need to recognize that the job I've applied for and that they have hired me for is to be the best U.S. senator possible for the state of Illinois."
When he is sworn in in January, Obama will become the only African American in the Senate and only the fifth in U.S. history. He said he feels confident he can speak to the issues black and white Americans care about, but said he is concerned about the "demands or requests on me from across the country.
Sometimes, he'll have to say no
"It's going to be important for me to say 'no,' when it just comes to appearances, wanting to be the keynote speaker at every NAACP Freedom Fund dinner across the country," Obama said. "You know, those are the kinds of things where I'm just going to have to explain to people that there are limits to my time. I've got a family that I've got to look after.
"But when it comes to speaking out on issues that are of particular importance to the African American community, I don't think that's a conflict with my role as an effective legislator for the people of Illinois."
Obama's name had been bandied about as a potential presidential candidate even before his keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention this summer made him a household name.
North Carolina Sen. John Edwards ran for president this year after just one term in the Senate. And exit polling conducted Tuesday found that nearly half of Illinois voters think Obama would make a good president.
But Obama seemed especially exasperated when asked if he would pledge to fulfill his term before looking to the White House.
"I am not running for president in 2008," Obama said. "I mean, come on guys. The only reason I'm being definitive is because until I'm definitive you will keep asking me this question, but it's a silly question."
Of course this proves nothing, other than the fact that all politicans lie. ;-)
Originally posted by AlexIt's not a lie if you believe it!
Still, I wonder what got him to change his mind. I never expected him to beat Clinton in the primary, even.
Opportunity. From what I have read and heard, Obama carefully and smartly planned out his political career. Like him or not, he is one clever, intellegent politician. And Hillary was vulnerable. What made her more viable was the cluster that has been the last four years of "W"'s administration. Hillary has always had huge negatives. She is a love her or hate her pol, no one is neutral. Obama's advantage was not having a big record to pick apart.
Doesn't every single Senator and Governor have a plan for running for President if things work out right? How many of the current Senators have run for President even if it's one of the "give up after Iowa" type of campaigns? I find it annoying but unfortunately it's how things work out.
Marge I am just trying to get into heaven not run for Jesus.
To be fair, if you had every in-state single person in power (and the papers too) hectoring you to run for president for the next 2.5 years because of how awesome it'd be, you'd run just to get them to leave you alone too.
I don't think he had intentions of running back in 2004. But as Bush's presidency imploded in the 2nd term, the Dem field appeared pretty much open outside of HRC, and he started to probe and find out that his popularity had only increased since the DNC speech in 2004, I think he realized this was his one shot. By 2012 he would be old news and possibly have a Dem in the White House. By 2016 he would be just another Senator. His moment was this year, and he may be a few hours away from the ultimate proof of that theory.
I remember very clearly when this subject was addressed back then, and I think everyone believed him. It did seem kinda silly to suggest the new kid on the block should be running for prez so quickly. How would he even find time to build support?! Surely a run in 2012 would be the smart choice to make, but only because a run in 2008 is a sure-fire failure. At least that's how I remember it being played by the media. Whoops.
The defence lawyers are conducting themselves pretty unpleasantly in the wake of this. Not sure what giving the finger to the press/people outside their champagne victory party(!) does to help anything.