Obama Calls Name Recognition Big Hurdle

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By HENRY C. JACKSON
The Associated Press
Sunday, February 11, 2007; 10:32 AM

IOWA FALLS, Iowa -- Barack Obama said Sunday that name recognition would be his toughest challenge in his 2008 presidential campaign.

His leading rivals for the Democratic nomination are far better known to voters, the Illinois senator said in an Associated Press interview the day after announcing his candidacy.

"At least two of my fellow candidates have been campaigning for years," Obama said, referring to New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

"They have an infrastructure and name recognition that are higher than mine so there will probably be a higher burden of proof for me," the first-term senator said.

Speaking at a hotel in Iowa Falls, Obama also dismissed criticism that he has offered only broad themes rather than specific policy stands.

"I find it surprising," he said. "I just announced I was running yesterday, so you can certainly expect more."

Obama noted that he has an Iraq war proposal, which he called "the most specific plan for getting out of Iraq."

The senator has called for capping the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and then beginning to withdraw them on May 1. He wants a complete pullout of combat brigades by March 31, 2008.

For those who seek to learn more about Obama's positions, he said his two best-selling books offer plenty of insight.

The books, he said, "offer a blueprint and more depth than anyone previously at this stage in a presidential campaign."

Obama gained national recognition with the publication of the books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope," and by delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 _ the same year he was elected to the Senate.

Obama campaigned in Cedar Falls and Waterloo on Saturday after his kickoff announcement in Springfield, Ill. On Sunday, Obama planned to meet with party activists at a private home in Iowa Falls and then attend a rally Iowa State University in Ames.


© 2007 The Associated Press

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