Obama Making First Stop in New Hampshire

By HOLLY RAMER
The Associated Press
Saturday, December 9, 2006; 12:09 AM

CONCORD, N.H. -- First there was Clinton time. Now there's Obama time. Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who is weighing a White House bid, said Friday his own political clock kept him from traveling to New Hampshire, the critical first primary state.

The freshman Illinois senator makes his first foray to the state on Sunday for a sold-out event celebrating Democratic wins in last month's elections.

"The whole prospect of a presidential race for me is not something I've engineered. I was on a different internal clock," Obama said in a telephone interview. "It's only been in the last couple of months that the amount of interest in a potential candidacy reached the point where I had to consider seriously."

Obama won raves for his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, the year he won his Senate seat. He has enjoyed a wave of publicity and drawn huge crowds in promoting his best-selling book, "The Audacity of Hope." He'll sign copies on Sunday before speaking at the party event.

Democrats have plenty to celebrate. Gov. John Lynch won re-election by a record margin, and the party took control of both houses of the legislature, the two U.S. House seats and the Executive Council, which reviews contracts and nominations.

Obama's aides expect him to disclose his intentions about a presidential run within weeks.

During his presidency, Bill Clinton had a penchant for running late for events, prompting jokes about Clinton time.

Should he decide to run, Obama said he looks forward to the rigorous questions for which New Hampshire voters are known.

"I love retail politics," he said. "Though you never know whether you're ready for anything until you do it. I certainly enjoy sitting in folks' living rooms, hearing about what's important to them."

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's New York colleague, Chuck Schumer, has told Clinton he will support her if she decides, as expected, to run for president.

Schumer spokeswoman Risa Heller said the two lawmakers met for breakfast Thursday morning and had a "warm and comprehensive" discussion of Clinton's political plans.


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