Barack Obama for President?

White House hopeful's biggest challenge will be introducing himself to Americans

an elections expert at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “It’s one of his biggest tasks, but that’s what presidential candidates always have to do,” he adds. In analyzing the field, Bositis highlights the fact that while Clinton may be more well known to voters, she also has a high percentage of people who have negative views of her. “She doesn’t have to introduce herself, but she has to start changing people’s minds about her,” says Bositis. He cites the perception that Clinton polarizes people, which could be a factor in the election.

Despite those sentiments, Bositis adds, “You can’t underestimate Hillary Clinton. She will have way more money than Obama and she has the best political professionals working for her. If Obama is going to win the nomination, he is going to have to earn it.” Clinton and Obama have a fund-raising target of $75 million.

Another hurdle for Obama, who first appeared on the national stage with his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and who has been in the Senate for only two years, is the question of his lack of experience, particularly in the area of foreign policy.

Obama addressed this issue head-on: “I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness, a certain audacity, to this announcement. 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.”

“Experience should not be the only factor one looks at when it comes to supporting a candidate,” says Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). “It is only one factor and it should be looked at in combination with the other factors,” adds Lee, who is still evaluating the candidates and who will be judging them based on their willingness to speak to the issues of the voiceless and their position on the war.

Watts cites the fact that former President Bill Clinton had little foreign policy experience when he won in 1992 against a very seasoned foreign policy person in George H.W. Bush. “What experience does Hillary Clinton have? I don’t think that being the wife of a president any more qualifies you to be an expert on foreign policy than my playing football in the Canadian league,” he says. “Obama is a credible candidate. That’s what’s important.”

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