Sen. Obama sides with hometown Bears

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, a potential
presidential candidate, planned to end weeks of speculation Monday
and tell a national audience ... he supports his hometown Chicago

Having some fun with all the political hype, Obama mocked the
frenzied interest by taping the introduction to ESPN's "Monday
Night Football" game between his hometown Chicago Bears and the
St. Louis Rams.

"So tonight I'd like to put all the doubts to rest. And
tonight, after a lot of thought and a good deal of soul-searching,
I would like to announce to my hometown of Chicago and all of
America that I'm ready ..."


"For the Bears to go all the way!" the Illinois senator said
in a text released by his office.

In a teasing news release, his office said Monday afternoon that
Obama would make an "announcement" before the game "about an
upcoming contest of great importance to the American people."

Obama spent Sunday in the first-in-the-nation primary state of
New Hampshire where he drew huge crowds, a crush of media and
fueled talk of a White House bid.

"This is a contest about the future. A contest between two very
different philosophies. A contest that will ultimately be decided
in America's heartland," Obama said during the taped introduction.
"In Chicago, they're asking, does the new guy have enough
experience to lead us to victory? In St. Louis, they're wondering,
are we facing a record that's really so formidable? Or is it all
just a bunch of hype?"

The Bears (10-2) faced the Rams (5-7) in St. Louis.

Although the game is on cable, last week's contest between Green
Bay and Seattle drew 12.7 million viewers, good exposure for any