In a wide-ranging talk, the senator discusses how he stacks up against Clinton and McCain and reveals what's factoring into his decision.
On the cusp of a historic decision over whether to run for the White House, Sen. Barack Obama said Thursday that he believed he would be a "viable candidate" for president who could move the nation beyond the generational politics that have defined the last 40 years.
"I wouldn't run if I didn't think I could win," Obama (D-Ill.) said in a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with the Tribune editorial board in which the senator articulated a rationale for his potential candidacy, confidence in his ability to win and an assessment of potential opponents--both Democratic and Republican.
Obama said he would reveal his decision in January, after a two-week family vacation that returns him to his roots in Hawaii, setting an extraordinary arc for a politician who a little more than two years ago was a state senator toiling in Springfield.
TRIBUNE INTERVIEW EXCERPTS
"Somebody was saying to a friend of mine, `Oh, he can't back out now. He'll look like a chump, you know.' And that's not how I feel. Look, if I come back in January and say I've made an assessment that I will benefit from serving longer in the Senate and I've got young kids, maybe some people would be disappointed, but to me that's a live option."
"First of all, it requires some megalomania. It's kind of crazy. ...
"What I at least think about is, whether through luck or happenstance or serendipity or convergences between my biography and events, do I have a particular ability to bring the country together around a pragmatic, common-sense agenda for change that probably has a generational element to it as well?"
"I think that experience question would be answered during the course of the campaign. Either at the end of that campaign, people would say, `He looked good on paper but the guy was kind of way too green' or at the end of the campaign they say, `He's run a really strong campaign and we think he's got something to say and we think he could lead us.'"
On Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton:
"If I run, it is not because I'm running against Hillary Clinton. I have no interest in being the un-Hillary. I think she'd be a capable president. ... There's no doubt that I probably look at some issues differently as a consequence of being of a slightly different generation than she does."
On Sen. John McCain:
"Look, if it's John McCain ... I don't think you need a lot of imagination to figure out how they would run that campaign. `We live in dangerous times. Terrorism's looming. We need a battle-tested leader and that's John McCain.' I think that's how they present it."
RunObama.com has it's first YouTube video up: "Senator Obama in Hew Hampshire."