Illinois' freshman Senator Barack Obama admits he is considering running for president in 2008. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," yesterday, Obama said he will make a decision after the November elections:
"Given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility, but I have not thought about it with the seriousness and depth that I think is required," Obama said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "After November 7th, I'll sit down and consider it, and if at some point, I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me."
This was the third time Tim Russert has asked Obama about his ambition for higher office. The first time, just two years ago Obama demurred:
MR. RUSSERT: Before you go, you know there's been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your full six-year term as U.S. senator from Illinois?
SEN.-ELECT OBAMA: Absolutely. You know, a little--some of this hype's been a little overblown. It's flattering, but I have to remind people that I haven't been sworn in yet. I don't know where the rest rooms are in the Senate. I'm going to have to figure out how to work the phones, answer constituent mail. I expect to be in the Senate for quite some time, and hopefully I'll build up my seniority from my current position, which I believe is 99th out of 100.
In January of this year, Obama stated flat out he wouldn't seek the presidency in 2008:
MR. RUSSERT: There’s been enormous speculation about your political future, Senator. The man you succeeded in the Senate, Peter Fitzgerald, a Republican, said this recently. “I think there’s a very good chance that Senator Obama is on the Democratic ticket in 2008 as the vice presidential nominee.” Do you agree?
SEN. OBAMA: No. You know, I can’t speculate on those kinds of things. What I have said is that, you know, I’m not focused on running for higher office, I’m focused on doing the job that the people of Illinois just sent me to do.
MR. RUSSERT: But there seems to be an evolution in your thinking. This is what you told the Chicago Tribune last month: “Have you ruled out running for another office before your term is up?” Obama answer: “It’s not something I anticipate doing.” But when we talked back in November of ‘04 after your election I said, “There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your six-year term as United States senator from Illinois?” Obama: “Absolutely.”
SEN. OBAMA: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.
MR. RUSSERT: So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?
SEN. OBAMA: I will not.
Then yesterday, after Russert played the video tape of Obama saying he wouldn't run, Obama changed his position in a fete of nuancing worthy of John Kerry:
MR. RUSSERT: You will not.
SEN. OBAMA: Well, the—that was how I was thinking at that time. And, and, you know, I don’t want to be coy about this, given the responses that I’ve been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility. But I have not thought it—about it with the seriousness and depth that I think is required. My main focus right now is in the ‘06 and making sure that we retake the Congress. After oh—after November 7, I’ll sit down and, and consider, and if at some point, I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me.
MR. RUSSERT: But it’s fair to say you’re thinking about running for president in 2008?
SEN. OBAMA: It’s fair, yes.
MR. RUSSERT: And so when you said to me in January, “I will not,” that statement is no longer operative.
SEN. OBAMA: The—I would say that I am still at the point where I have not made a decision to, to pursue higher office, but it is true that I have thought about it over the last several months.
MR. RUSSERT: So, it sounds as if the door has opened a bit.
SEN. OBAMA: A bit.
Which brings to mind Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous line, "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds."
There are many reasons Obama may well decide to abide by his earlier pronouncement that he will not run in 2008:
- There is the crowded field of 13 potential Democratic candidates.
- Obama's lack of executive experience. Since John Kennedy the electorate has prefered governors over senators when selecting presidents.
- The lack of a nation-wide campaign and fundraising organization.
- Personal factors such as having a young family and whether he has the required fire in the belly.
In the end, I don't think Obama will be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee, but there is always the vice president slot.