Before Obama Was Obama

This is a radio interview with Barack Obama before he was the Barack Obama we now know and are following. This interview ran on March 15, 2004 on WBEZ-FM, Chicago's outlet for National Public Radio.

At the time, Obama was a relatively unknown state senator, running against several better-known Illinois Democrats for the party's nomination for the seat U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, a Republican, announced that he was vacating.

During the interview on Chicago Public Radio's 848 show, host Steve Edwards thoroughly questions Sen. Obama on a laundry list of national issues. It's fascinating to hear what Obama had to say then and compare it with what he has to say now on immigration, the environment, farm policy, federal spending, if he's too elitist for regular black folks, health, gays and lesbians, "the dumb" war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and his basketball skills.

There are a couple of places in the interview where Obama admits that he's open to further investigating his position but, by and large, his positions then are his positions now.

I'd love to hear comparable interviews from John McCain when he was running for the Republican nomination in 2000 or Sarah Palin when she was running for governor of Alaska a couple of years ago.

The archival interview on Chicago Public Radio's blog lasts 23:30. Click here for a listen.

Monroe Anderson is an award-winning journalist who penned op-ed columns for both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. Check out his blog at