As if Barack Obama’s skilled defeat of Hillary Clinton hasn’t already proved his political muscle, now we get this story about how Obama won his first election:

In his first race for office, seeking a state Senate seat on Chicago’s gritty South Side in 1996, Obama effectively used election rules to eliminate his Democratic competition.

As a community organizer, he had helped register thousands of voters. But when it came time to run for office, he employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers.

The move denied each of them, including incumbent Alice Palmer, a longtime Chicago activist, a place on the ballot. It cleared the way for Obama to run unopposed on the Democratic ticket in a heavily Democrat district.

Mind you, he didn’t do anything illegal and ruthlessness is part of Chicago politics. But this story is just one more piece of evidence that, under the soaring rhetoric, is a very slick politician. Now, you don’t become president without knowing how to play politics but Obama seems almost preternaturally good at the game. You just have to ask, is he really offering a new kind of politics or just the same old tricks repackaged for the current national mood.

  • krabbie

    Let me get this straight, He is a elitest because he had the God given talent to dig himself out of a food stamp situation, put himself through college, wrote a book, got elected a few times and was never born with a silver spoon in his mouth???? Next, he made everyone running in a campaign play by the rules, wink, wink in So Chicago, wink wink. and he is being held up to that test???? Hooray for Barrack!!!!! If the son of a immIgrant mixed race family can do that, I say GO ALL THE WAY. We need more Americans like him. Learn the rules then play by the rules. Oh Gee, then he wins by the rules. WOW!!!

  • krabbie

    Oh and by the way… OK Alan Stewart Carl why do you put a title of “Obama’s Politically Ruthless Past” for a article where you say “Mind you, he didn’t do anything illegal and ruthlessness … Seems like you want Title rights without vetting your own story. Sounds like a “… as far as I know.” quote that tried to smear Obama last month by one who is running against him and trying to infer he is muslim or at least trying to give suspicion to the alegation. So correct and justify your story or get off my screen. Don’t be a hack!!!!

  • I said ruthlessness is part of chicago politics. Getting your opponents kicked off the ballot is ruthless, even if it was legal. He may have made people play by “the rules” but he sure as heck didn’t play by “the spirit.” That’s ruthless. Mind you, the Clintons are pretty ruthless too. As are the Bushes. All are good politicians as well.

    Plus the title says “politically ruthless” which clearly qualifies the remark which is then justified by the post. No corrections needed and no hackery is at work.

  • Alice Cambell

    Rules are rules but Hillary doesn’t follow the rules. I mean, do we really want Bill and Hillary back in the White House again? Let’s take a look here at some things they have said which reflect their character:

    Bill: “I have never had sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

    Hillary: “I was under Bosnian sniper fire.”

    Bill: “I put it to my mouth but I never inhaled.”

    Hillary: “I regret mentioning the RFK assassination but I was thinking about Ted Kennedy lately.”

    Bill: “I can’t understand why the media is so mean to Hillary.”

    Hillary: “I care about party unity.”

    Please …. why don’t the super-delegates end this now and pledge their votes to Obama. The man has presidential campaigning to do.

  • g.j.

    So, since the Clintonistas said he had no balls etc., they should have asked you. If he got someone kicked off because the of the rules, then that was smart, savvy not ruthless.

  • redhorse

    This is an old story; curious why cnn is recycling it today.

  • Clint H

    You know this is truly bullcrap. This article along with what Clinton is doing is considered Political assassination. What is she trying to prove?

    I think this video says it all.

  • Clint H

    The video is located at the following hyperlink.

    It is funny as hell.

  • George

    All you Obama supporters just don’t get it! You can’t get up and say you’re fresh, you’re going to unite, you’re for change and then in the back rooms pull the same old crap. That’s being a liar. He never heard Wright say ‘those kinds of words’, taking Rezko’s money was ‘boneheaded’ he doesn’t remember meeting Nadhmi Auchi when he went to a party in Auchi’s honor with Rezko Rezko. When someone on your U.S. Senate campaign finance committee takes to a party to honor a billionaire (who got rich stealing from the UN food for oil program with Saddam) who is famous for donating to politicians, and later you say I don’t recall meeting him! Obama’s either stupid or a liar. Either way he’s NOT who he pretends to be. That’s a problem. Maybe, Hillary’s thinking when the hell are you all going to wake up and sober up. (Chris Matthews, the thrill up your leg will give you a hangover in the morning). Guess I’ve seen too many phoneys in my life, I saw him for one a mile away. And don’t even get me started on his campaigning for his cousin in Kenya who promotes Sharia laws!! CNN! Are you doing ANY investigating? Hello! Are you listening?!?


    The sooner these young brats realize their idol is not really the agent of change he claims to be, the better off this country will be. The problems we have are real, and we don’t need a con artist telling us he can fix it.

    If the brats don’t listen, we can cut off their allowance. Let’s see how much money Obama raises.

    I wouldn’t trust this slick snake oil salesman as far as I can throw him.

  • Colette M.

    The reason signatures are often challenged in Chicago elections is because Chicago politicians have been notorious for padding their election petitions with “ghosts”. Of course Barack Obama should have checked to make sure that every one of his opponent’s signatures could be validated. He should not be criticized for verifying their campaigns were legally mounted. The rules were established for a reason. There are those, it seems, who don’t believe the rules should apply to them (or their campaigns). Barack Obama is an honorable person and candidate.
    Rock on, Senator Obama. You are the one!!!

  • Dave

    How dum can Americans actually be? You would think after George Bush we would be more resistent to the retoric of politicians. Obama is not an agent of change. He has muscled his way past Clinton using tactics that are even below Rove. These stories have been around for sometime, but the media
    has pratically held his hand right into the nomination, except for the occasional story like this one. Thanks to the media we now have a choice between the two worst (McCain and Obama) presidential candidates of my lifetime!

  • This is not a Chicago-style “ruthlessness” issue. Nomination petition signature requirements exist in most jurisdictions.

    The signature requirements are necessary to insure that a candidate is legitimately meeting minimum voter support. These requirements are necessary so that the ballot is not cluttered with ego or glamor candidates.

    I do internet campaign support and campaign data-base mining, including petition verification programs. In 2004, we were hired to check the signatures of voters in Arizona of Ralph Nadar nomination petitions.

    Nearly 15,000 signatures were required by the state of Arizona to have an independent candidate’s name in the Presidential election. There were slightly over 22,000 signatures submitted, which normally would be sufficient. However, a complete check of the signatures meeting the state requirements found that only about 7,000 signatures were valid.

    This is another non-issue CNN and the media are using to ‘fill’ fake-news while ignoring real issues. US media is completely irrelievant and only serves it’s own interests and those of it’s sponsors.

  • Gini

    Why are the petitions so important in the first place? Why are people who may genuinely feel they would be able to provide what is best for their community unable to run because they do not have enough signatures? As we all know, the weakest candidates are always eliminated first…think Kucinich. What Obama did was nothing more than an attempt to thwart the competition so that he would be guaranteed a victory. This kind of politics should not be praised

  • Karl Keranen

    To Hillary for President:

    I know Hillary said that if she did not get the nomination she would support the nominee, but after the two events this week
    I cannot support that statement. I have an even bigger problem with Obamas religious past and now with the report from CNN regarding how he got on the ballot in 1996 is troubling. To brush what he did as just politics is also wrong.

    Hillary said every vote counts. Gore was denied the election because many voters were disenfranchised. In 1996 Obama did the same thing the republicans do and kept peoples votes from counting, oh yea he’s a Lawyer.

    Winning is not everything if you have to step on the rights of other; to protect the intent of the signers signature should have been the most important. Isn’t that what we were taught in Florida; dimpled Chad and all, “HBO Recount”. He kept poor minorities from being heard by getting there signatures disqualified. Because a person does not know how to write in cursive and has to print does not make them less of a person. Who was protecting them from Obama?

    If Hillary does not win the nomination I am going to have to vote for some one other than Obama.

    Good luck Hillary and keep fighting.

    EVERY VOTE COUNTS!!!! Something Obama does not believe!!!!!

    Karl Keranen

  • This isn’t new news about Obama’s ruthless past in Chicago politics. It’s why I voted for Hillary Clinton. Learn about his campaign manager Axelrod as well. It makes you wonder whether Americans are really giving Obama $5 and $10 donations, or if some big foreign pal in Chicago is paying millions to Obama’s campaign, posing as millions of Americans giving tiny donations that nobody will bother to trace.

    Start with this five-page Chicago Tribune investigative story on Obama’s first nasty campaign victory …,0,1843097.story

    Then look up Obama’s other contacts in the newspapers search engine, including Tony Rezko.

  • Dave, I have to agree with you that it is the rhetoric of politicians that is currently so problematic. The public are finding it increasingly hard to distinguish between this and genuine sentiment and this is unsurprising. The degree to which politicians are trained in oratory is in my opinion to great. Elections should not be won and lost on the power of speeches, but on political ideology, manifestos and the degree to which promises are realistic. It is so easy to be swayed by a politician adept in their use of words and it is often difficult to see past this to the actual content of their campaign.

  • George

    I agree with you Ian. Those politician sure know how to sway people with their words.

  • Tom

    One can’t succeed in this profession if you are too much of a straight arrow. It is easy to know what is ethically correct, though perhaps discourteous, but always speaking your heart and mind works against a system that must appeal to the majority, and our majority – more than any other one in world history – creates its politicians, and richly deserves them every time.