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Obama considering '08 presidential run

Illinois senator says he'll decide after Election Day

By Dan Balz
Washington Post / October 23, 2006
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WASHINGTON -- Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, opened the door to a 2008 presidential campaign yesterday, saying he has begun to weigh a possible candidacy and will make a decision after the November elections.

"Given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility, but I have not thought about it with the seriousness and depth that I think is required," Obama said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"After November 7th, I'll sit down and consider it," he said, "and if at some point, I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me."

Obama, one of the brightest stars in the party since electrifying the 2004 Democratic National Convention with his keynote address, has been saying that he planned to serve the full six years of his Senate term, which would have ruled out a presidential or vice presidential campaign in 2008.

But Democrats around the country have encouraged him to consider a campaign, and there has been fevered speculation inside the party about the possibility that he will do so. His advisers have been forced to adjust timetables for a possible run in later elections and have begun to do research that will help Obama make his decision.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York is considered the early front-runner for the Democratic nomination, should she decide to run, but some Democratic strategists said yesterday that Obama immediately would become one of her principal challengers, if he enters the race.

Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry, the 2004 nominee, is among other names in a large field of Democratic prospects, which also includes John Edwards, former North Carolina senator, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

Obama, 45, was elected to the Senate in 2004 and even before winning that election became a nationally recognized politician with his keynote address in Boston. He is one of the party's most sought-after speakers and has drawn sizable crowds at party events and at appearances.

Party strategists said that if voters were looking for change in 2008, Obama would symbolize that better than many of the other possible candidates. But having served just two years in the Senate and seven in the Illinois state Senate, Obama has a thin resume upon which to build a presidential candidacy.

"I'm not sure anybody is ready to be president before they're president," he said yesterday. "You know, ultimately, I trust the judgment of the American people that in any election they sort it through. We have a long and a rigorous process and, you know, should I decide to run -- if I ever did decide to run -- I'm confident that I'd be run through the paces pretty good."

Obama is on a nationwide tour promoting his new book, "The Audacity of Hope."

He also has appeared on the covers of Time magazine and Gentleman's Quarterly.