Carol Martin of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Senator Obama has admitted not paying attention to home state issues in Illinois, despite the fact that he is drawing a salary to represent his continents' interest in the Senate.
Is Barack Obama out of the loop when it comes to his home state of Illinois?
That was the question posed Monday by my NBC5 colleague, political reporter Mary Ann Ahern, after trying hard to get the senator's views on a variety of newsy topics in Chicago. Obama, who showed up at Monday's Operation PUSH convention, stopped for a very brief Q-and-A with waiting reporters. Getting Obama to set aside time to talk to the local press back home has been nothing short of a major challenge for many months now.
What about the state budget funding crisis and casinos? asked Ahern.
''I haven't been following the negotiations closely enough to know what's taking place,'' Obama said.
How has his political mentor, Senate President Emil Jones, the recipient of major ComEd campaign cash, handled the utility rate freeze issue?
''I apologize, guys, but I really have not followed closely what's been happening in Springfield, I had a little bit of other stuff to do,'' the senator said with a smile.
As Obama walked away, reporters called out questions about his now-indicted friend and fund-raiser, Antoin ''Tony'' Rezko. And about Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, someone Obama endorsed, who is currently up to his eyeballs in problems. Obama, still moving, either didn't hear or chose not to answer.
Hat tip: Newsalert Update:
"Look, I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years. [....]
"My entire focus is making sure that I'm the best possible senator on behalf of the people in Illinois. [....]
"...I'm a state senator. I was elected yesterday. I have never set foot in the U.S. Senate. I've never worked in Washington. And the notion that somehow I'm immediately going to start running for higher office, it just doesn't make sense."