Illinois Senator Barack Obama officially announced his candidacy for president on Saturday.
Obama went to his home state to make the announcement, according to The Associated Press.
“Lets transform this nation,” he told an estimated crowd of 15,000 to 17,000 people.
“I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change,” Obama said, referring to critics who say his two years in the Senate makes him too inexperienced to seek the White House.
Obama, who is only 45-years- old, is the youngest of all the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination.
A relatively unknown politician two years ago, Obama has surged onto the scene becoming one of the most prominent Democrats in Washington.
However, he still is believed to have an uphill battle trying to defeat political veterans like current frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Only a year ago, Obama said that he would not seek his party’s nomination for president and that the very question itself was ‘silly.’
His announcement came on the steps of the same building where Abraham Lincoln stood in 1858 and launched his unsuccessful bid for a United States Senate seat.
Obama’s use of Lincoln’s legacy was no coincidence, according to The AP.
“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 house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you to announce my candidacy for President of the United States,” Obama said.
During his 20 minute speech, Obama spoke of reshaping the economy, investing in education, protecting employee benefits and insuring those who do not have health care.
He also spoke of ending poverty, weaning America off our dependency on foreign oil and fighting terrorism while also rebuilding alliances around the world, according to The AP.
“I think Obama is a strong candidate. One of his strengths is his ability to appeal to a large number of people with a strong positive image,” said Larry Schwab, professor of political science at John Carroll University.
“Obama also has the advantage of having opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. His main problems are his lack of experience, (a Senator for only two years), and the possibility that some Americans might vote against him because he is an African-American.”
He also took the chance to discuss the war in Iraq, saying that it would be his first priority to bring the troops home.
“It’s time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of someone else’s civil war,” he said.
The Obama for President campaign already has its grassroots and netroots geared up.
Obama has an official Web site online where supporters can go and donate money.
And as a way to reach out to young people, the popular Web site facebook.com has numerous groups that its members can join to show their support for Barack Obama.
One already has more than 58,000 members.
Obama understands that his age, race, experience and even his name will all play a role in his bid for the presidency, according to The AP.