Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Black News: Is the Trail Wearing Obama Out?

BUTTE, MONT. -- He hasn't had a vacation for months. He sees his family little more than once a week. And now as the presumed Democratic nominee for president, he can't go anywhere without being trailed by a full crew of journalists.

Reaching his limit, Barack Obama wriggled free of the campaign's fetters on July 4. Caught in Montana on his daughter Malia's 10th birthday, he improvised a party.

At the Holiday Inn Express in Butte, a city known for its copper mines and bordellos of old, Obama and family ordered a cake. They loaded an iPod with Malia's favorite songs and danced and sang. Obama later came close to tears, recalling that Malia told him "it was the best birthday she'd ever had."

"I know it sounds corny, but last night was actually one of those times where being in a Holiday Inn in Butte without a lot of fanfare. . . . I don't know whether she was just telling us what we wanted to hear, but I can tell you from my perspective it was one of the best times I've had in a long time," Obama told reporters aboard his campaign plane. Then he quickly turned and back to his seat.

Being Barack Obama would seem an ego-enlarging thrill, with ecstatic crowds at every stop and -- if the polls are right -- a better than 50-50 shot at becoming president.

Watching him on the trail in recent days, though, it often appears as if the unrelenting attention and prolonged campaigning are getting wearisome. He told a customer at an Indiana diner two months ago that he had lost 7 or 8 pounds. He said he was learning to get by on four-to-five hours' sleep.

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