Obama's Pragmatism Rooted in Hyde Park

Dem learned to pay his due on Chicago's South Side
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2008 7:16 PM CDT
The Rev. Jesse Jackson holds a campaign sign for Barack Obama. Jackson knew Obama when the latter was campaigning in local Chicago politics.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama was once a no-name politico on Chicago’s South Side with an Ivy League degree and few supporters, the New York Times reports. But he found allies by courting opposing groups, a balancing act that has proven effective on a national scale. “He’s looking for ways to make the tent as large as possible,” said one Obama mentor, dismissing claims that he’s “wishy-washy.”

Obama embraced more centrist views in Chicago, but remained equally comfortable hobnobbing with the elite or protesting with activists. Strong support in 2002 inspired him to eye the US Senate. Initially, he was unsure about attacking the Iraq war, but his speech against it made him famous. Obama can “frame stuff so it’s not an all or nothing proposition,” said one supporter.