Obama continues to test the waters

Democratic star Senator Barack Obama is on his first trip to the important political testing ground of New Hampshire as he lays the foundation for a possible 2008 presidential run.

Obama, who was speaking Sunday at celebrations to mark his party’s success in last month’s elections, also reportedly planned to use the visit to introduce himself to the political establishment in New Hampshire, which holds America’s first presidential primary in little more than a year.

Considered a relative newcomer on the national political stage, Obama has not said he is certain to run for the White House. But he is expected to make a decision in the next few weeks.

There is no shortage of supporters pressing the photogenic African-American lawmaker to toss his hat into the ring however. Among them are longtime booster, Senate colleague Dick Durbin, who has begun an online petition drive urging Obama to run.

Another new website boosting Obama’s presidential candidacy is www.runobama.com.

Meanwhile, Senator Hillary Clinton, tipped by polls and pundits as the early favorite for the 2008 Democratic nomination, also has been holding talks with party officials on joining the race, according to news reports. Newsweek magazine reported that Democratic insiders say it is "99 percent certain" that the former first lady will run.

So far only one Democrat has formally announced he will challenge for the nomination, Iowa governor Tom Vilsack.

Copyright © 2006 Agence France Presse