Obama to Launch '08 Bid in Springfield

The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 16, 2007; 2:06 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Barack Obama plans to formally launch his campaign for president in Springfield, the city where Abraham Lincoln lived and worked before being elected the nation's 16th president.

The announcement would come around Lincoln's birthday and help underscore Obama's hope of positioning himself as a uniter who can rise above partisan bickering. Obama, like Lincoln, served in the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield.

Obama said Tuesday that he has formed an exploratory committee to study a presidential bid and will announce his final decision on Feb. 10.

Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, an early advocate of Obama's candidacy, said he has been told the formal announcement is planned for the capital city.

"There's a clear, very significant symbolism there," Hynes said.

Obama, a Democrat, lives in Chicago but may want to avoid reminding voters of that city and its long history of corrupt, insider politics.

An announcement in Springfield would emphasize his legislative experience there and the parallels to Lincoln, who turned a slim political record into a successful presidential campaign and then led the nation through the Civil War.

The city offers several potential backdrops to a presidential announcement: Lincoln's home, his presidential library and the former state capitol where he delivered the famed "house divided" speech.

Obama served eight years in the Illinois Senate before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

© 2007 The Associated Press