Obama Takes Step Toward White House Run

Sen. Barack Obama announces the formation of a presidential exploratory committee in a Web video. Obama Exploratory Committee hide caption

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itoggle caption Obama Exploratory Committee

In an announcement made on his Web site, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) says he will form a presidential exploratory committee. The first-term Democrat says he will go into greater detail about his White House plans on Feb. 10.

"For the next several weeks, 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," Obama said.

In October, Obama said that he was thinking about running for president, a development that shook up the Democratic field. Several Democratic candidates have painted themselves as alternatives to their party's perceived presidential front-runner, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Clinton is said to consider Obama as her most serious challenger.

Obama Begins to Plan White House Run

Sen. Barack Obama makes remarks at St. Mark Cathedral Family Church in Harvey, Ill., Jan. 15, 2007. i i

Sen. Barack Obama makes remarks at St. Mark Cathedral Family Church in Harvey, Ill., Jan. 15, 2007. Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images
Sen. Barack Obama makes remarks at St. Mark Cathedral Family Church in Harvey, Ill., Jan. 15, 2007.

Sen. Barack Obama makes remarks at St. Mark Cathedral Family Church in Harvey, Ill., Jan. 15, 2007.

Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said Tuesday he is taking the initial step in a presidential bid that could make him the nation's first black to occupy the White House.

Obama announced on his Web site, www.barackobama.com, that he was filing a presidential exploratory committee. He said he would announce more about his plans in his home state of Illinois on Feb. 10.

"I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago," Obama said in a video posting. "I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics. So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need."

Obama, a little more than two years into his Senate term, is the most inexperienced candidate considering a run for the Democratic nomination, but nonetheless ranks as a top contender. His appeal on the stump, his unique background, his opposition to the Iraq war and the fact that he is a fresh face set him apart in a competitive race that also is expected to include front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Other Democrats who have announced a campaign or exploratory committee are 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Obama tried to turn his biggest weakness — his lack of experience in national politics — into an asset.

"The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place," he said.

"America's faced big problems before," he said. "But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, commonsense 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."

He said Americans are struggling financially, dependence on foreign oil threatens the environment and national security and "we're still mired in a tragic and costly war that should have never been waged."

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