In his 2007 biography of Barack Obama, Obama: From Promise to Power, Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell described the exchange he had with then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama just minutes before he delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston:
After Obama and I slipped through a security checkpoint and he momentarily broke free from the entourage, I sidled up to him and told him that he seemed to be impressing many people of influence in this rarefied atmosphere. Obama, his gaze fixed directly ahead, never broke his stride. “I'm LeBron, baby,” he replied, referring to LeBron James, the phenomenally talented teenager who at the time was shooting the lights out in the National Basketball Association. “I can play on this level. I got some game.”
Obama was right. He had some game, delivering a breakthrough speech that, in an analysis by David Bernstein, senior editor at Chicago magazine, “captured the nation's attention and opened the way for a run at the presidency.”
Prior to that speech, “the idea of Obama running for president would have been laughable; he was a lowly state senator from Chicago's Hyde Park,” wrote Bernstein. “After the speech, observers from across the political world hailed the address as an instant classic, and Obama was drawing comparisons (deservedly or not) to Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.”
Valerie Jarrett, longtime Obama friend and currently a senior adviser to the president, said of Obama's 2004 convention speech: “It changed his life.”
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