"It was here, in Springfield, where North, South, East and West come together that I was reminded of the essential decency of the American people - where I came to believe that through this decency, we can build a more hopeful America. And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America."
Democratic Senator Barack Obama made this announcement before a cheering crowd in Springfield, Illinois, on February 10, 2007. He told the crowd he would tackle problems like poor schools, economic hardships and oil dependence, and urged the crowd to demand universal health care in America by the end of the president's first term.
Although he hasn't been in Washington long, Obama assured the crowd that he is familiar enough with the city's political machine to understand that change is in order.
If elected, he will become the first African-American president in U.S. history.
Obama On the Issues
Abortion - Obama supports abortion rights. In the Illinois State Senate, he voted against a bill to ban late-term abortions because it did not contain a clause to protect the life of the mother.
Church and State - Obama says he believes in the separation of church and state, but believes it should be guided by a "sense of proportion," saying the Pledge of Allegiance and student prayer groups should enjoy some leeway.
Death Penalty - Obama does not believe the death penalty deters crime, but he supports it for cases in which "the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage."
Education - Obama opposes government vouchers and tax credits for private schooling, believing it would undermine efforts to improve public schools.
Environment - In the U.S. Senate, Obama co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, which was designed to cap emissions from industrial plants and oil refineries.
Faith-Based Initiatives - Obama says there is room for faith-based approaches to social problems, believing they may offer unique ways of solving problems.
Gay Marriage - Obama believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. He supports granting civil unions for gay couples and opposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. After dodging questions about the morality of homosexuality, he later went on national television to say that he does not believe homosexuals are immoral.
Health Care - When he announced his candidacy, Obama said his goal is to implement universal health care by 2012. He calls universal health care one of the "core values" of the Democratic party.
Immigration - Obama supports immigration reform that strengthens border security while creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.
Iraq War - Since Obama was not a member of the U.S. Senate in 2002, he did not vote on the authorization of the use of force in Iraq. He has since called the Iraq war a "tagic mistake" and has outlined a plan to bring combat troops home by March of 2008.
Poverty - In the Illinois Senate, Obama helped author the state earned income tax credit, and has supported bills to increase the minimum wage.
Stem Cell Research - Obama supports easing restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. He voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which was vetoed by President Bush.