- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

12:49 p.m.

Sen. Barack Obama announced today he is filing papers to set up a presidential exploratory committee and will make a decision by Feb. 10 whether to seek the Democratic nomination for a White House run.

Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, opted for a Web video to declare his intentions, alerting supporters and members of his political mailing list in an e-mail titled “My plans for 2008.”

“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,” said Mr. Obama, a former state senator elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

He is expected to visit Iowa, which hosts the nation’s first caucus in January 2008, this weekend.

The announcement dominated television news coverage and political blogs and is a possible reason why Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton canceled her planned afternoon news conference to discuss her recent trip to Iraq.

Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, is widely expected to announce her presidential ambitions this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Mr. Obama chose an open-collared shirt and blazer, with no tie, in his Internet message, found at https://www.barackobama.com/video.

He looked directly into the camera and frequently used hand gestures, pointing each time he used the word “you.”

“A change in our politics can only come from you, from people across our country who believe there’s a better way and are willing to work for it,” he said.

The presidential field gets more crowded by the day, with Republicans and Democrats jumping into the mix.

The Iraq war is a defining issue for Democrats especially, and Mr. Obama is one of the few in the crowd who does not have to defend a vote to go to war.

Unlike Mrs. Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards, who voted to give the president authority for the war in October 2002, Mr. Obama was not yet in the Senate. As he often reminds people, he opposed the war from its start.

A Draft Obama group this morning announced the creation of ObamaWasRight.com, highlighting that early opposition and offering discussion about Iraq.

In his message this morning, Mr. Obama called it a “tragic and costly war that should never have been waged.”

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