It’s official: Obama’s in

And the Associated Press couldn’t be more giddy with excitement:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) announced his bid for president Saturday, a black man evoking Abraham Lincoln’s ability to unite a nation and a Democrat portraying himself as a fresh face capable of leading a new generation.

“Let us transform this nation,” he told thousands shivering in the cold at the campaign’s kickoff.

Obama, 45, is the youngest candidate in the Democrats’ 2008 primary field dominated by front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and filled with more experienced lawmakers. In an address from the state capital where he began his elective career 10 years ago, the first-term U.S. senator sought to distinguish himself as a staunch opponent of the Iraq war and a White House hopeful whose lack of political experience is an asset.

“I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change,” Obama said to some of the loudest applause of his 20-minute speech.

Obama is looking to cap his remarkable, rapid rise to prominence with the biggest political prize of all — the presidency. His elective career began just 10 years ago in the Illinois Legislature. He lost a bid for a U.S. House seat, then won the Senate seat in 2004, a relatively smooth election made easier by GOP stumbles.

In his speech, Obama did not mention his roots as the son of a man from Kenya and a woman from Kansas, his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia or the history he would make if elected. That compelling biography has turned him into a political celebrity.

Instead, he focused on his life in Illinois over the past two decades, beginning with a job as a community organizer with a $13,000-a-year salary that strengthened his Christian faith. He said the struggles he saw people face inspired him to get a law degree and run for the Legislature, where he served eight years.

He tied his announcement to the legacy of Lincoln, announcing from the building where the future 16th president served in the state Legislature.

Comparing himself to Lincoln? Oh paleez!

Here’s the prepared text of his speech.

Oh, and check this out:

Although his campaign infrastructure is still being built — his advisers moved into their Chicago headquarters only last week — Obama’s launch had the trappings of a campaign that has been building for months. That included a new Web site launched in conjunction with the announcement and a new campaign logo, a blue “O” that evokes a rising sun and that appeared on buttons, placards and T-shirts.

You can see the logo here.

Image, obviously, is everything.

Substance? Not so much.

Related: Check out what Aussie PM John Howard had to say about Obama or any other potential Dem winner of the presidential race. Ouch. He won’t make any friends on the left with that one – not that he’s trying to, anyway. I await the “he’s a Cheney stooge!!!!” accusations to start rolling in any time now.


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