One-on-one with Barack Obama

January 3, 2008 5:42:09 PM PST
Mayor Daley made a prediction Thursday on how Illinois Senator Barack Obama will fare in the Iowa caucuses.

During an event at the Englewood Senior Center, he said he believed Obama would come out on top. The mayor said Obama has committed a lot of time and energy to the campaign.

"Michelle and the senator, they've worked very, very hard. You have to give anyone credit who runs for president. I don't care who you're for. But boy, talk about taking time away from your life. Campaigning, that is a job," said Daley.

If anyone had predicted just one year ago that a relatively unknown freshman senator from Illinois would parlay one big speech at a Democratic convention into a high-flying presidential campaign, capable of competing with and perhaps defeating a crowd of experienced, well-known and well respected Democrats led by Clinton, you would have said they were crazy.

But Obama's actually leading in enough polls to be a tentative favorite heading into the crazy Iowa caucus, which kicks off the 2008 presidential campaign.

Obama, who calls himself a skinny guy with a funny name from the South Side of Chicago, will soon learn whether this "improbable journey" that began in frozen Springfield last February, stops in victory lane in Iowa, which would give Obama incredible momentum and frontrunner status as the presidential race moves on to New Hampshire and then all of the bigger states.

Obama seemed to be running out of gas and voice after an appearance late Wednesday night but seemed optimistic.

"I feel good. I think we've done everything that we could. And I think we have the best organization on the ground. I think our message is working. And I think we have momentum at the right time," he said.

"He has spent a lot of time in Iowa. He's run a very good campaign in Iowa and hired good staff who have Iowa experience. And people have really been energized. He's a fabulous public speaker," said Bob Vanderplaats, Iowa Democatic Chairman.

Regardless of the outcome, in a very tight race against a better known U.S. senator and former first lady backed by a formidable political machine, and another well-known former senator and vice-presidential candidate, Obama's ability to combine style and substance makes him a political rock star who draws the biggest crowds in the campaign and attracts the biggest celebrities, like Oprah.

But equally important is an ability to put together a topnotch campaign staff, raise nearly $100 million and attract thousands of volunteers, many from the Chicago area.

"The chance to make a difference for the country by electing Senator Obama president is a great way to spend my winter week," said Tarak Shah, Obama volunteer.

As a result, Obama, unlike most candidates, has an ability to compete all the way through Super Duper Tuesday on February 5, even if he doesn't win Iowa.