WASHINGTON — 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. In a video on his exploratory committee web site, Obama said, "On February 10th, at the end of these discussions, in my home state of Illinois, I'll share my plans with my friends, neighbors and fellow Americans."
"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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