Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Obama's Honesty And The New Politics Of Old Drug Use

AUDUBON -- Barack Obama did something no other presidential candidate has managed during the Iowa caucus campaign season: talked about the subject of his own past illegal drug use in a winning way.

Speaking to a crowd of some 400 people in a high school gymnasium during a recent campaign stop in this southwest Iowa town of about 2,200 people, the Illinois senator was asked about President Clinton's legendary argument that he tried marijuana but didn't inhale. An audience member asked him,"Unlike other presidents, did you inhale?"

"I did," Obama said. "It's not something that I'm proud of. It was a mistake … But you know, I'm not going to ... I never understood that line. The point was to inhale. That was the point."

The comment drew applause and some of the most sustained laughter of the night.

In contrast to virtually all presidential candidates in recent years, Obama has voluntarily raised the subject of his own drug use on the campaign trail. In his memior, "Dreams From My Father," Obama discussed his past use of cocaine and marijuana in vivid terms.

Last month, he brought it up to a group of high school students in New Hampshire, according to MSNBC.

His remarks in Audubon drew few objections from people in the crowd.

"If I were that age I probably would have tried it," said Sam Kauffman, 72, the mayor of Audubon and the town's leading barber.

Kauffman and others who were at Obama's Audubon event said his candor about drug use reflected positively on his candidacy and did not constitute the kind of deal-killing moment for a presidential hopeful that it would have been only a decade ago.

Read the rest of this story at Iowa Independent.com.

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