Alan Keyes to take on Barack Obama?

Chicago Sun-TimesGOP wooing Keyes to take on Obama

Barack Obama might get a race, after all. Former GOP presidential candidate Alan Keyes told Illinois Republicans Monday that he is ”open to the idea” of taking on the Democrat in the U.S. Senate race — a move that would pit two eloquent, nationally known African Americans against one another. ”It would be a classic race of conservative vs. liberal,” said state Sen. Dave Syverson, a member of the panel looking for a candidate to go up against Obama. ”It would put this race on the map in this country — just for excitement.”

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It remains to be seen how Keyes would fare in Illinois. Four years ago, he came in third in the state’s GOP presidential primary, winning only 9 percent of the vote. And in 1996, he placed fourth with less than 4 percent. And he lost U.S. Senate bids in Maryland in 1988 and 1992.

But some believe Keyes could be just the antidote to Obama. ”Wow!” said Ronald Smith, another member of state central committee. ”I’d love it. I’d love it. I tell you, in a debate, he would blow Obama out of the water. … I heard him speak. He mesmerizes you, just his grasp of the issues.”

I can’t imagine Keyes would have much of a shot against Obama, but then neither does any other likely Republican candidate. It would indeed make for an engaging contest, however.

Keyes lives in Maryland, but Syverson argues that is not an insurmountable problem, pointing to Hillary Clinton’s successful run for a New York Senate seat. ”It’s not necessarily where you live as much as who you represent and the views you represent,” Syverson said. “He believes that there is a void in Illinois and that Obama certainly does not represent Illinois. And he believes that he would be, if he were to run, much more representative of Illinois.”

He’s likely the only one who thinks that!

Hat tip: Jeff Quinton

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.