Historian Bob McElvaine given credit for encouraging Obama to run

Historians in the News

The real beginning of the Barack Obama for president campaign was more than two years ago on the pages of The Clarion-Ledger.

It began on Sept. 13, 2006, when you published a piece by regular contributing columnist and historian Robert S. McElvaine titled "Obama can bind nation's wounds," and it audaciously promoted Obama for president in 2008.

The very next day Dan Hynes, the highly respected Illinois state comptroller and Obama's leading opponent for the the U.S. Senate in 2004, called a press conference to announce that he was supporting Obama for president and released the text of the letter he sent Obama urging him to run. Hynes was the first public official in the United States to actually endorse - not suggest - an Obama candidacy.

In his letter to Obama, Hynes directly quoted from Professor McElvaine's column which I had e-mailed him, and also stated that his intention in asking Obama to run was specifically keyed to Obama's visit that coming weekend to Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's legendary annual steakfry where Obama was featured as the "principal guest and keynote speaker." When asked by reporters at the Harkin event to respond to Hynes' announcement of support, Obama said that he would now have to give consideration to the possibility, slightly modifying his earlier statements that he would not run. Five months later, in Springfield, Ill., Obama announced his candidacy for president.

Mississippi is often treated unfairly, getting listed as 49th or 50th of all the states in education, livability, etc. For me it's one of our most beautiful states - the Natchez Trace and Natchez itself are special highlights. And the great literary tradition of William Faulkner and Eudora Welty need not take second place to any other state.

It now appears probable that Obama will win the election, but regardless of who wins, I think it would be great for Mississippi to be in the Obama column, eradicating much of the South's past negativism associated with slavery and segregation and demonstrating that McElvaine's prophecy was indeed prophetic.

Three cheers for Mississippi and Obama!

Phil Krone

Miami Beach/Chicago

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Rea Andrew Redd - 10/22/2008

Obama can bind wounds? Which wounds? On whom? And how?
His remarks about Pennsylvania voters in the primary are not the remarks of a healer.