Obama is ready to enter race for president

Barack Obama, the Democrat senator who has emerged as the brightest new star of US politics, has at last dropped any pretence and indicated for the first time that he intends to run for the presidency in 2008.

In a low-key video statement posted on his website, he told supporters he has taken the first step of forming an exploratory committee for a White House campaign, leaving nobody in any doubt that he will indeed join the field of Democrat candidates for his party's presidential nomination. He said he plans to make a formal declaration of his candidacy on 10 February in his home state of Illinois.

Doubts persist about the viability of Senator Obama, who at 45 has served only two years in the Senate and has scant experience of government at national level. But his decision - coming one day after the Martin Luther King holiday - was heavy with historical significance, as an ultimately successful outcome would make him the first African-American president.

It also promises to deliver an unusually intriguing contest for the Democratic nomination, with Mr Obama likely to be in direct competition with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former first lady, currently the front-runner in polls among Democrat voters, is expected to announce her intention to run shortly. She in turn would be seeking to become the country's first woman president.

Mr Obama, who was born in Hawaii in 1961 to a Kenyan father and a white American mother from Kansas, was a law professor in Chicago before being elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996. In 2004, he came to national prominence with a widely admired speech at the Democratic Convention in New York. Months later, he was elected for the first time to the US Senate.

Cloaked in political celeb-rity from his first day in Washington DC, Mr Obama tried to keep a low profile for months and repeatedly repelled questions about a possible bid for the White House. His popularity has continued to swell, however, thanks in part to the publication late last year of the second of two autobiographies, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

Other Democrats who have already either formed an exploratory committee or declared their candidacies for 2008 include the former vice-presidential nominee John Edwards, the former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack and the Connecticut senator Chris Dodd.

Following the declaration on 10 February, Mr Obama is expected to open a headquarters in Chicago, a city also likely to provide much of his support when he begins lobbying for the $100m or more he will need to fight Ms Clinton and others.

A liberal who is pro-gay and pro-gun control, Mr Obama has long opposed war in Iraq and will try to make a virtue of his lack of experience by casting himself as a fresh face.

"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," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory