Obama's moment - Page 2

Presidential candidate finds his voice in San Francisco — but can he still turn the race around?

"We've lost faith that our leaders can or will do anything about it," Obama said.

Over and over again, Obama said he is running to deal with the most difficult issues: living wages, universal health care, human rights and dignity, racial harmony, honest foreign diplomacy, and a return to the principles of the New Deal. "I'm running for president of the United States because that is the party that America needs us to be right now.

"I am in this race," he said, "because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now."

Good stuff, but is it too late? "I don't see it happening, but it's still possible that Hillary Clinton will slip in Iowa. She's not invincible," Hayden told us.

In fact, a new ABC–Washington Post poll shows Obama taking the lead over Clinton in Iowa, 30 percent to 26, with Edwards at 22 percent.

"Seeing him through the eyes of my 34-year-old son and his wife, I could see there was a lot of new excitement among the younger generation and that it would be a shame if that just dissipates," Hayden told us. "The thing Obama needs most is what he steers around: he need a new social justice movement similar in strength to what we had in the '60s."

Donald Fowler, a San Francisco resident and Democratic Party campaign consultant who ran John Kerry's Michigan campaign in 2004 and Al Gore's field operation in 2000, said Obama has suffered for trying to communicate detailed positions through an intense media filter.

"You get into the danger of running a government when you should be running a campaign," Fowler told us.

He and Hayden each said that particularly on the Iraq war issue, where Obama is strongest, he should have projected his stance more boldly, something he may now be starting to do.

"My guess is they have decided to be strong, state things clearly, and take back the discussion," Fowler said. Listening to Obama discuss this moment, that assessment seems likely.

"It's because of these failures that people are listening intently," Obama said. "We have the chance to come together to form a new majority." *

To hear Barack Obama's speech and read the Atlantic article and Tom Hayden's letter, visit www.sfbg.com.