Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois jumped into the 2008 White House race on Tuesday, promising to bring Americans together and “change our politics” with a campaign that could make him the first black president in U.S. history.
Obama, a freshman senator and rising party star, formed a committee to begin raising money and hiring staff to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to succeed Republican President George W. Bush.
He plans a formal campaign announcement in his hometown of Chicago on February 10.
“Our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way. 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,” Obama said in a video message announcing his bid.
“We have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans,” he said.
Obama, who gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention before he was even elected to the U.S. Senate, appeared on a Time magazine cover and drew big crowds while campaigning for Democrats last fall.
His visit to the early primary state of New Hampshire in December drew sold-out crowds and more than 150 journalists.
In his statement, Obama said he was struck by the hunger around the country for “a different kind of politics” and that decisions in Washington over the last six years of Republican leadership have put the country “in a precarious place.”
Obama’s quick rise has been fueled in part by his smooth campaign style and unusual personal history. The son of a white Kansas-born mother and a black Kenyan father, the Harvard Law School graduate and little known state legislator in Illinois won the U.S. Senate seat in 2004 against a stand-in opponent.