From an e-mail from Barack Obama's camp:
As you may know, over the last few months I have been thinking hard about my plans for 2008. Running for the presidency is a profound decision - a decision no one should make on the basis of media hype or personal ambition alone - and so before I committed myself and my family to this race, I wanted to be sure that this was right for us and, more importantly, right for the country.
I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. But as I've spoken to many of you in my travels across the states these past months; as I've read your emails and read your letters; I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics.And that's why I wanted to tell you first that I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee. For the next several weeks, I am going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us, and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together. And on February 10th, at the end of these decisions and in my home state of Illinois, I'll share my plans with my friends, neighbors and fellow Americans.
I've chatted with a couple of friends about a potential Presidential run by Obama, and we all felt that this was the right time for him to run. It's rare for a politician to inspire such ardent backing from the public. The most oft-cited weakness of his presidential resume is his scant political experience, but to my mind that might be a strength.
A longer voting record in the Senate only gives opponents ammunition (already potential opponents have picked out bits and pieces of his voting record to try to tarnish his halo). When one of the only negatives the press can trump up about a candidate is the fact that he smokes, he's in good shape. Obama has a self-effacing charm that can probably turn attacks like that into positives.
There was a time I thought Colin Powell could have run for president and won. Instead he joined the Bush Administration and built up political experience. It didn't quite work out the way most everyone imagined it would. That's not to say Obama as a state Senator could suffer the same type of political damage, but to imagine that the stars will still be aligned this perfectly four years from now is risky.