Obama Saddened by News of Senator Kennedy’s Condition

Senator Barack Obama’s Response:

Michelle and I were saddened to hear the news about Senator Kennedy’s condition today, and we plan on doing whatever we can to support him, Vicki, and the entire Kennedy family during this time. Senator Kennedy has been a fighter for his entire life, and I have no doubt that he will fight as hard as he can to get through this. He has been there for the American people during some of our country’s most trying moments, and now that he’s facing his own, I ask all Americans to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.”

Obama Responds to News of Senator Kennedy’s Condition

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Obama’s Heroic Crusade: Tuesday’s Going to Be Super!

Barack Obama Speaks: One Voice

The Amazing UCLA Obama Rally Changed the Course of the Presidential Campaign

Two days before before the closest thing America has ever had to a national primary, four extraordinary women put on what many observers feel was the best campaign rally in the last 20 years of presidential politics. The preeminent event in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion began like every other Barack Obama event, chants of Yes We Can and signs praising the power of hope. Senator Obama was campaigning on the East Coast Sunday, but by the time this rally ended, Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey and Maria Shriver had defined the challenge that Hillary Clinton will face if she wins the Democratic nomination. She’ll have to figure out how to preserve the energy and excitement that Obama has stirred in his supporters, especially in once-marginalized younger voters.

The most recent polls from California suggest that Senator Obama has cut deeply into what had been a double-digit lead for Mrs. Clinton in the biggest delegate prize of Tuesday’s primaries. Certainly, in that moment at the rally, the Obama campaign seemed to have a monopoly on what is fashionable and glamorous in California.

Before the event got into full swing, giant screens were showing a video by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. A visually diverse lineup of celebrities, which included the actresses Scarlett Johansson and Amber Valletta, the rapper Common, the singer John Legend, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, recited and sang along with a film of a speech that Senator Obama gave on the night that he lost the New Hampshire primary.

The crowd was screaming with delight when it saw Caroline Kennedy, who brought her uncle Senator Edward Kennedy and now, remarkably, her cousin Maria Shriver, California’s First Lady, to the Obama campaign. Caroline Kennedy previewed Maria Shriver’s surprising appearance by urging Democrats to “step out of your lives and into this moment in history.”

Ms. Winfrey spoke to the most emotionally fraught aspect of this contest. “Now look at this campaign. The two front-runners are a black man and a woman,” she said. “What that says to me is we have won the struggle and we have the right to compete.”

Obama: A Fierce Campaigner

Senator Obama has been a fierce campaigner during the last 10 days. After winning in South Carolina, Obama has dashed through 16 states, but he hasn’t stayed very long. He’s held more than one stop in only two states (California and Missouri). Eight of the states that he’s visited, Hillary Clinton never touched. Favoring huge, 20,000-person rallies over intimate affairs, Obama’s strategy has been simple: get his face in front of as many people as possible. Huge crowds turned out in New Jersey, Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota and Colorado. Since that strategy means he can’t linger very long in any one state, he has supplemented his rallies with a massive advertising budget. Obama’s Super Bowl ad buy was more impressive for its audacity than its content. All of this seems to be helping; his poll numbers have been jumping nationwide, even though he hasn’t held a press conference day since his big win in South Carolina.

The Super Bowl Ad: “Join”

Snapshots: Getting to Know Him

A Video Photo Album

The UCLA Obama Rally: Maria Shriver Endorses Barack Obama

In a very dramatic moment at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, California First Lady Maria Shriver stepped out onto a stage that had already seen its share of celebrities, Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder among them, and announced that she was backing Barack Obama. It has been reported that Shriver was waiting backstage wavering over whether she should make her support public, and then she finally walked out onto the stage.

Shriver told the crowded gymnasium that she had not intended to be at the rally, and had come straight over after going horse riding with her daughter. She joked about her appearance, wearing riding clothes, without makeup and without having her hair done, as she added her support for Obama. “If Barack Obama was a state he’d be California,” Shriver said, drawing roars from the crowd. “I mean think about it: diverse, open, smart, independent, oppose tradition, innovative, inspiring, dreamer, leader.”

And she spoke about the themes of optimism and collective action that Obama has sought to build his campaign around. “He’s not about himself. He’s about the power of us and what we can do if we come together,” Shriver said. “He is about empowering women, African Americans, Latinos, old people, young people. He’s about empowering all of us.

Shriver, a former network television journalist, also acknowledged some uncertainty over taking such a public stand. “Sometimes, when you follow your own truth and your own voice, it’s scary,” she said. “But that’s all you can do.”

Shriver was on the stage with Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy and Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Shriver said that she had made the decision in the morning. “I wasn’t on the schedule,” she said, “and I thought to myself when I woke up this morning, I thought, there’s no other place I should be than right here.”

California First Lady Maria Shriver Endorses Barack Obama

The Oprah Winfrey who aroused the crowd at UCLA on Sunday was far different from the Oprah who made her political debut endorsing Obama in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in December. In her first steps on the campaign trail, Oprah was unexpectedly tentative, almost shy. But on Sunday, Oprah had clearly found her voice. She was much more like the woman that we watch on television every day: sharp, funny, opinionated, but fed up with women who tell her she’s a “traitor” for endorsing Obama over Clinton.

After Iowa, there were some women who had the nerve to say to me, ‘How could you, Oprah, how could you?‘” The talk show star mimicked her critics, affecting a pinched nasal accent. “‘You’re a traitor to your gender.’ I was both surprised by that comment and insulted. The truth is, I’m a free woman,” Winfrey told an enthralled crowd. She repeated “I’m a free woman” three more times.

Being free means you get to think for yourself and you get to decide for yourself what to do. So I say I am not a traitor, I am just following my own truth, and that truth has led me to Barack Obama.” She came back to the theme later, talking, again in a mock accent, about women who say, “‘I’m a woman, I have to vote for a woman.'” She disagreed, strongly asserting that, “As free women, you have the right to change your mind. You’re not a traitor because you believe and see a better way.”

Oprah Winfrey: Now We Are Free

Stevie Wonder at the UCLA Obama Rally

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The Celebrity Music Video: “Yes We Can

Josh Groban: You Raise Me Up

Barack Obama: Change We Can Believe In

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The Kennedys Embrace Obama: A Man with Extraordinary Gifts of Leadership and Character

Sen. Ted Kennedy Endorses Barack Obama

Obama Understands the Fierce Urgency of the Now

Two generations of Kennedys endorsed Barack Obama for president on Monday, with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy describing him as a ”man with extraordinary gifts of leadership and character,” a worthy heir to his assassinated brother. ”I feel change in the air,” Kennedy said in remarks edged with scarcely veiled criticism of Obama’s chief rival for the nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as her husband, the former president. ”I have marveled at his grit and grace,” he said of the man a full generation younger than he is.

From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq. And let no one deny that truth,” he said, an obvious reference to former President Clinton’s statement that Obama’s early anti-war stance was a ”fairy tale.” ”With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion. With Barack Obama we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay,” Kennedy said.

There was another time, when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a new frontier. He faced criticism from the preceding Democratic president, who was widely respected in the party,” Kennedy said, referring to Harry S. Truman. ”And John Kennedy replied, ‘The world is changing. The old ways will not do…. It is time for a new generation of leadership.”

So it is with Barack Obama,” he added.

The senator made his comments at a crowded campaign rally that took on the appearances of a Kennedy family embrace of Obama, who sat smiling as he heard their praise. He was introduced by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president, who said that ”Obama offers that same sense of hope and inspiration” as did her father. Representative Patrick Kennedy also endorsed Obama from the stage before a jubilant crowd at American University.

This is more than just politics for me. It is personal,” Obama said when it came time for him to speak. He said he was too young to remember President John F. Kennedy, ”My own sense of what is possible in this country stems from what my parents had told me about the Kennedys.”  “I stand here today with a great deal of humility,” Mr. Obama said after Mr. Kennedy’s endorsement. “I know what your support means. I know the cherished place the Kennedy family holds in the hearts of the American people.”

Barack Obama: The Kennedy Endorsements are a Great Honor

Also on Monday, Senator Obama picked up the endorsement of Nobel Prize winning author and Pulitzer Prize recipient Toni Morrison, who read from her work at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration and once labeled him the ”first Black president.” Morrison said she has admired Hillary Clinton for years because of her knowledge and mastery of politics, but she cited Obama’s ”creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom.” Morrison said that her endorsement had little to do with Obama’s race, but rather with her great admiration of his personal gifts.

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