Southern Illinois political experts talk about Obama's candidacy

Southern Illinois political experts talk about Obama's candidacy
By: Ryan Tate
The last time a legitimate candidate from Illinois ran for the presidency was almost 20 years ago. That was Paul Simon.
Mike Lawrence worked with Illinois Senator Barack Obama on a project while the Senator served in the Illinois Legislature. Lawrence is now the Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.
"I found him engaging and intelligent," Lawrence said. "He seemed to be able to cross party lines and get the job done."
But to get the job done and win the top job in the United States, Obama has some historic trends to fight.  No man has gone directly from the Senate to the White House in 47 years. No Midwestern candidate has won the White House since Missouri's Harry Truman in 1948.
That makes the Obama Campaign a very interesting one. Lawrence hopes students find it interesting as well.
"We're using the Obama campaign to get students more interested in how people go about becoming President and the elements of campaigns," Lawrence said.  He plans on doing that by co-teaching a class next fall, centered around the Senator's campaign.
Lawrence admits this Presidential season is staring earlier and is more intense than in previous years. There are only 567 days until the 2008 election.