First time i saw the guy was at a small event in Chicago when he was running against Bobby Rush. Since then followed him in IL State Senate and his election campaign for Senate in 04.
Veteran of Chicago Dem politics, staying on message while being tough. That is grad school in hardball politics for anyone.
Illinois State Senate has Chicago hardball players, Suburban Reps, Farmbelt & rural reps, Small City machine politicians, just a mishmash of different interests of a big state. Obama did a good job of getting it done for his district, and a reputation for being practical reaching across the aisle to people not only from other parties, but crossing the Chicago/Downstate divide. And he was known as a serious student of policy.
In his run for Senate, he won a very tough Democratic primary, getting votes from Downstate Illinois small town and rural voters - in areas that are close to the Mason Dixie line. He did very well in the central farm area that is midwestern as can be. He also did really well in the Conservative Western suburbs.
Basically, he is a really charismatic guy, who has a good feel on the American public, in seeing the similarities that cut across race, regional, and class - despite the problems in his campaign recently.
He is smart as hell, and can look at issues from different perspectives. But he is absolutely not a wimp, won't give up anything without getting some payback. that is Chicago-style.
He is not a knee-jerk liberal. You don't survive in Chicago and Illinois without dealing w Fortune 500 CEO's and small business alike.
He is as well prepared to actually lead and motivate Americans as anyone I have seen. And he surrounds (and will surround)himself w/both fresh faces and those w/experience. And that is the main point, he can put in place the people who can effect "change". At the very least change from the legions of Republican hacks that enabled Bush as he invaded the wrong country and did nothing while the gulf coast and New Orleans swamped. McCain is going to end up relying on these characters. No thanks
Tip Of The Hat to