[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/04/29/obama.wright/art.obama.tues.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced comments made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright."]
GOP Strategist and Former Huckabee National Campaign Chairman
Who is Barack Obama? What does he really believe?
These are the unanswered questions about a man who could be the 44th president.
That is why there is such a curiosity about him and why the public and media is looking closely at his wife, and his minister and, before this is over, every other element of his life.
Here is what we do know. He is extremely articulate and extremely ambitious. You can throw bright into the mix, too. But what he really is, is inexperienced. No one in recent times has jumped to the front of the Presidential express quicker or with a thinner resume.
He served a few years in the part-time Illinois state Senate and worked part-time as a junior associate lawyer drafting wills and real estate documents.
Prior to law school, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago, whatever that means. He ran voter registration drives and through knowledge he learned from that experience, he got elected in 1996 to a State Senate seat.
Conveniently, Obama ran virtually unopposed after he legally challenged the qualifying petitions of the incumbent and his other three primary opponents and got them thrown off the ballot. Winning the Democrat primary meant victory because Republicans offered only token opposition in the most overwhelming Democrat district in the state.
Before he had served out his term, Obama ran for Congress and got crushed by incumbent Bobby Rush in a primary. He also chose not to vote on many controversial measures in the legislature.
When a vacant U.S. Senate seat opened up 2004, he was off to the races. And when a series of soap opera events hit his primary and general election opponents, he faced a token opponent, perennial right-wing kook presidential candidate Allan Keyes, who lived in Maryland and had been destroyed when he ran for the Senate in that state. Add lucky to the other qualities listed above.
Because of his speaking skills, Sen. John Kerry picked Obama (still a state senator) to keynote the 2004 convention. He was sworn in as newly elected senator in January 2005, and in February 2007, after just two years in the Senate, he announces for President.
All we know about his Senate career was that Obama was the most liberal voting member of the Senate in those first two years, according to the National Journal, and was anti-war, anti-gun and pro-immigration.
That is why influences in his life, the thoughts and beliefs of his wife, and the rantings of his pastor and mentor all matter: because it might help us know more about the man from Illinois, Indonesia, Hawaii, California and New York.
Obama has run up until now a brilliant campaign and excited millions of voters by talking about change. Now the rest of us want to know, "Who is this guy?"
And, to steal a line from Walter Mondale that he used in the '84 campaign against Gary Hart: Where's the beef?
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