Senator Hillary Clinton told ABC Morning news host Diane Sawyer, that Obama (and Edwards) are getting a “free ride.”
I realize Clinton is now saying these things out of frustration and the sudden realization that she will not be able to just waltz into the Oval Office on January 20, 2009. But it is out of line. There has been nothing “free” about Senator Barack Obama’s seemingly sudden rise. He did it the old-fashioned way. He earned it. He struggled through his first election, when the previous office holder (State Senator Alice Palmer) changed her mind about not running for Illinois State Senate and wanted Obama to simply step aside after he had set up his campaign and gathered the petitions and all the other things necessary to start a campaign. Obama stood his ground in what in retrospect may have been a defining moment.
He ran for Congress in 2000 against an entrenched incumbent, Congressman Bobby Rush. Obama lost in a crushing defeat, but many lessons were learned. One week before election day, then President Bill Clinton endorsed his opponent in non-stop radio ads. Obama never once complained that his opponent was getting a “free ride.” I know. I was there.
That entire period was another “defining moment” in which Obama learned a great deal. When Obama ran for United States Senate in 2004, they said he had no organization, no money. Nice guy but he wasn’t “electable.” they said. He was running against the loyal party man, State Comptroller Dan Hynes. He also ran against businessman Blair Hull, who pledged to spend $40 million dollars of his own money to “buy” a seat. So much more to this story. But this was not a “free ride.” I know. I was there.
In this campaign for President of the United States, Obama has received donations from 500,000 Americans. He has worked the rural areas of Iowa meeting with farmers and discussing their problems. And they embraced him. He visited the beautiful villages of New Hampshire and listened to this independent group of people discuss their problems. For hours and hours. Nothing “free” about this ride. Thousands have volunteered for his campaign, willing to help in whatever ways they are asked. “Free ride” indeed. John Presta.