Planet News Views

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Obama Runs Strong Race

By Scott McLean

Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) has been in the news quite often this year because he is a major U.S. presidential candidate.

However, Obama is not the first African American candidate with a chance to win, despite some people thinking that's the case. Rev. Jesse Jackson, a civil rights leader, was an effective candidate in the Democratic primaries nearly two decades ago.

He didn't win the nomination. But he did make it possible for other African Americans to run for president, win the election or at least the nomination.

I attended a Jackson speech about two decades ago or less, although I don't recall what year it took place and whether it was during a campaign or at another time. (I'll get back to you if I can find my notes.) But I do know this: Jackson's charisma and focus on issues really impressed me.

"What an outstanding speaker!" I thought to myself. By the time he finished the speech, I knew from then on that I would pay more attention to Jesse Jackson in the news.

By contrast, Obama doesn't come across as a guy who can bring an audience to their feet, make them cheer, smile and feel good the way Jackson had. But that's not his style, nor is it necessary to win the nomination.

Obama's strengths are that he is articulate and appears to have a good grasp of the issues, which makes him a credible candidate.

Because Obama is a U.S. Senator, he will be able to get media exposure, develop name familiarity among voters and raise money for his presidential campaign.

This has been a particularly good month for Obama, who appears to be picking up a large number of supporters and reaching others who would consider voting for him.

According to a Harris Poll made public last week, available to the media on PR Newswire, Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) had very similar poll numbers pointing to almost the same amount of support, whereas Clinton was ahead in previous polls.


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