US Senator Barack Obama took his first step into the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday by opening an exploratory committee to raise money and begin building a campaign designed "to change our politics." He said he would make a formal declaration on Feb. 10 in Illinois.
"Running for the presidency is a profound decision -- a decision no one should make on the basis of media hype or personal ambition alone," Obama said in a video address sent by e-mail to his supporters. "So before I committed myself and my family to this race, I wanted to be sure that this was right for us and, more importantly, right for the country."
Obama disclosed his decision on his Web site and was not planning to make other statements on Tuesday. Instead, he was making a series of telephone calls to key Democratic leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states with early contests on the party's nominating calendar next year.
Obama, 45, was elected to the Senate two years ago. He becomes the fifth Democrat to enter the race, joining senators Joseph Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut as well as former senator John Edwards of North Carolina and Tom Vilsack, who stepped down this month as governor of Iowa.
Senator Hillary Clinton of New York is expected to join the Democratic field soon and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said he would make his decision known by the end of the month. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts also is weighing another run.
By now, Obama's rapid rise from law professor to state senator to US senator in less than a decade is well known. He is the only black serving in the US Senate and could be the only black presidential candidate this year.
But the next phase of his political development presents an even more intriguing story line -- as well as inviting closer scrutiny -- as he discovers whether it is a blessing or curse to embark on a presidential race carrying the expectations of a country that is searching for something new and different.
In his video statement on Tuesday, Obama presented himself as a fresh face -- and voice -- for Democrats. The message was crafted in blue-sky optimism, but did not delve into specific details for the challenges facing all candidates in next year's presidential campaign. Aides said the announcement speech next month would outline more specifics.
"For the next several weeks," Obama said in the video, "I am going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together."
Even before Obama opened an exploratory committee, his flirtations with a presidential bid changed the contours of next year's race. Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin were among those to fold their cards, fearful that what had been seen as a wide-open fight for the nomination suddenly seemed like nothing of the kind.
But for all of his anointment as a beacon of hope for Democrats, it remains an open question whether he can turn a boomlet into a movement.
Privately, even longtime friends wonder if he can meet such lofty expectations, which have elevated him beyond a politician's normal realm, thanks to his celebrity, ambition and biography.
Obama intends to open his presidential campaign headquarters in Chicago, which also would provide a key fund-raising base.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against