Monday, February 25, 2008
DALLAS: There is a hushed worry on the minds of many supporters of Senator Barack Obama, echoing in conversations from state to state, rally to rally: Will he be safe?
In Colorado, two sisters say they pray daily for his safety. In New Mexico, a daughter says she persuaded her mother to still vote for Obama, even though the mother feared that winning would put him in danger. And at a rally here, a woman expressed worries that a message of hope and change, in addition to his race, made him more vulnerable to violence.
"I've got the best protection in the world," Obama, of Illinois, said in an interview, reprising a line he tells supporters who raise the issue with him. "So stop worrying."
Yet worry they do, with the spring of 1968 seared into their memories, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy were assassinated in a span of two months.
Obama was 6 at the time, and like many of his admirers, he has only read about the violence that traumatized the nation. But those recollections and images are often invoked by older voters, who watch his candidacy with fascination, as well as an uneasy air of apprehension, as Democrats inch closer to selecting their nominee.
Obama has had Secret Service agents surrounding him since May 3, the earliest a candidate has ever been provided protection. (He reluctantly gave in to the insistent urging of Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and others in Congress.) As his rallies have swelled in size, his security has increased, coming close to rivaling that given to a sitting president....(Click here for remainder of article).