“Barack was one of the smartest people I ever worked with, but he was more interested in moving up,” says Republican Steven Rauschenberger, who served with Mr. Obama in the state senate. “I never thought he was very engaged in the state senate, because he didn’t think that much of it.”
Steve Rauschenberger then (S-T September 6, 2003)
He has suggested to Obama that they split from the pack and debate Lincoln/Douglas-style, across Illinois.
The most qualified candidate of both parties by legislative experience running for the U.S. Senate nomination is a Republican, Steve Rauschenberger, the first freshman and youngest senator to be named chairman of Senate Appropriations back when the GOP was in control. Now the 47-year-old Elgin legislator has taken a daring tack. He has suggested to state Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago), whom he regards as the most formidable of the eight major Democratic contenders, that they split from the pack (Rauschenberger faces six Republicans) and debate–just the two of them–Lincoln/Douglas-style, across Illinois.
Obama, an eloquent African American who was president of the Harvard Law Review, is considering it, and if he accepts, the Senate race would be suddenly lifted out of sound bytes and 20-second TV spots. This much is clear: If some day Illinois could be represented in the Senate by both Rauschenberger and Obama, it would come closest to the golden era when brilliant opposites, Everett Dirksen and Paul Douglas, jointly served.