DNC: Salazar Prepares to Nominate A Friend
August 27, 2008
Colorado’s junior senator will have a major-league responsibility at the podium Wednesday night as he formally seconds the nomination of Sen. Barack Obama as the Democrats’ candidate for president.
But at a more intimate level, Salazar’s speech will be about two kindred spirits who grew to be friends and even neighbors in the Senate.
Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Obama came into the Senate together in 2004. At Salazar’s request, Obama came to Colorado to campaign for Salazar before his own election, beginning what would evolve into a close friendship after the two were sworn in.
Obama and Salazar were the only Democratic freshmen senators in the spring of 2005, so they stuck together at an orientation breakfast at the White House, Salazar recalled in a recent interview.
“Over the course of my time serving with Barack, we became good friends. We sat next to each other in the Senate, had dinner together, we even lived in the same building on the same floor for the first two years in Washington,” Salazar recalled. “During that time, I got to know him well. I got to know about his family, about his history and about his devotion and sacrifice that he has made to serve the people of the country.”
Salazar also recognized parallels between his own story and Obama’s. Both men, he said, lived unlikely lives.
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He said the two men embody the American dream.
“As we were growing up, no one would have ever predicted that we would have even graduated high school,” he said.
As most Americans know by now, Obama grew up the child of a single mother who struggled to make ends meet. As many Coloradans know, Salazar grew up on a farm with no electricity and no telephone, speaking only Spanish at home as the son of 11th generation Coloradans in the San Luis Valley.
Obama grew up to edit the Harvard Law Review, and Salazar and his brother, John, became their familly’s first college graduates. Obama is now the Democratic nominee and the Salazar brothers serve in the Senate and House, respectively.
“It’s an improbable journey that can only be found here in the United States of America,” Salazar said.
He said he supported Obama publicly only after the protracted primary contest ended, not wanting to offend Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom he also described as a close friend.
“I felt that I would not choose between two members of my family. I know them both and respect them very much,” he said.
But, he added, he consulted with Obama frequently throughout the campaign and was on his side.
He said Obama’s story, and his own, illustrate the possibility of broken barriers and a wide-open future.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you are from, anything is possible.”