What Did Obama Tell House Democrats About His Symbolism?

The Washington Post has an interesting quote this morning from the meeting Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, held with House Democrats yesterday afternoon.

"I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," Obama said, a witness told the Post.

Republicans and others are jumping on the quote as evidence of Obama's more egoistic impulses, but other Democrats in the room today suggest that the quote is out of context and twists Obama's meaning to mean the complete opposite of what he was saying.

"His entire point of that riff was that the campaign is NOT about him," says a House Democratic staffer. The Post "left out the important first half of the sentence which was something along the lines of 'it has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. Its about America. I have just become a symbol.'"

Other staffers with whom I spoke back that up, and a Democratic Congressman who isn't a particular fan of Obama agrees, saying that Obama preceded that quote with something along the lines of, 'Those people in Germany weren't excited about me.  They were excited by the prospect of America getting back to being all it could be.'"

House Democrats are hunting around to see if anyone recorded the closed-door meeting, so we can see just what the context was in which Mr. Obama discussed his symbolism to the world.

- jpt

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