Jesse Jackson Backs Barack Obama
The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he is supporting Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in his 2008 presidential bid, but Jackson is refraining from encouraging others to do the same.
"I will vote for him because he is from my state," Jackson, a civil rights leader who is influential in the African-American community, said in an interview Thursday. "He has the intelligence and the integrity and the strength of reasoning to make a tremendous impact. He has already inspired many people to get involved."
Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodman Clinton, D-N.Y., have been battling vigorously for the support of black voters. Jackson said he does not plan to join Obama's campaign yet.
For the record, Jesse Jackson's influence is not limited to the African-American community. Jackson is, after all, the founder of the Rainbow Coalition and has been active on a number of broad progressive issues for some years.
Barack Obama also visited Florida on Friday and was a hit; here's the story from S. V. Date of the Palm Beach Post:
Illinois Sen. and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama brought his campaign to the state capital Friday, eliciting star-struck responses from lawmakers and ordinary residents alike.
"On behalf of the Capitol and behalf of the Democratic Caucus from both the House and the Senate, I want to welcome Sen. Obama and 'Starship Obama.' There's a lot of excitement here," said House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber, who along with other Democratic legislators met with Obama behind closed doors where he signed a table full of copies of his book.
"It's going to be a 50-state campaign. Oftentimes, over the last several years, there's been a tendency to just focus on one or two states," Obama said. "We also want to make sure that we're coming to states like Florida, not just to fund-raise, which has been the tradition, but also to provide community forums, access to ordinary folks, so that they get a chance to lift the hood and kick the tires."
He provided some brief access to those folks a short time later with a three-minute, impromptu speech to a crowd of 200 or so gathered outside the Challenger Learning Center, where several hundred supporters - including some Republican lobbyists - paid as much as $500 to listen to a speech in private.
I've noticed that Barack Obama has been giving a fair number of impromptu speeches outside various events where people show up hoping to catch a glimpse of him. He's clearly a political rock star and we'll know in a few months if he has what it takes to go all the way.