Obama plans for 2008 candidacy

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, Jan., 16, 2007, to vote, after announcing earlier he intends to form a presidential exploratory committee. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

By Joseph Lamberson

WASHINGTON – For all those historians and political naysayers, Sen. Barack Obama’s allies like to point out that Abraham Lincoln served two years in the House before becoming president.

It’s a comparison certain to be repeated as Obama, with slightly more than two years in the Senate, continues to align himself with the Civil War president. The senator’s expected campaign kickoff is scheduled for Feb. 10 in Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Ill. – where both men served in the state legislature.

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Obama filed paperwork for a presidential exploratory committee Tuesday, which allows him to raise money and organize a campaign structure before his formal announcement. He also talked about his plans in a video on his Web site.

If elected, he would be an obvious subject for the history books – the first black president.

Obama often has touched on the parallels to Lincoln, writing about the 16th president, and at the opening of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in April 2005, saying: “Lincoln reminds us that our essential greatness is not the shadow of sophistication or popularity, or wealth or power or fleeting celebrity. It is the tree that stands in the face of our doubts and fears and bigotries, and insists we can do better.”

On Tuesday, Obama said the past six years have left the country precarious and he promoted himself as the standard-bearer for a new kind of politics.

“Our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way,” Obama said in a video posted on his Web site. “Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions. And that’s what we have to change first.”

Obama’s soft-spoken appeal on the stump, his unique background, his opposition to the Iraq war and his fresh face set him apart in a competitive race that also is expected to include front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

In a brief Capitol Hill interview, Obama said reactions have been positive and added, “we wouldn’t have gone forward this far if it hadn’t been this positive.”