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Obama Spends Spare Time On Kenya Crisis

The realities of the New Hampshire primary demand that serious candidates devote nearly all their time to campaigning at the expense of everything else – and that often includes sleep.

But Barack Obama has somehow managed to squeeze in a little diplomatic spadework among rallies and other campaign stops in an effort to help bring the electoral crisis in Kenya to an end. For Obama, this international incident is personal: His father was Kenyan and several members of his family still live there.

The Associated Press reports that Obama has spoken to Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga to "express grave concerns over the election's outcome," according to Odinga's spokesperson, who added that the Democratic hopeful also plans to call Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki.

Obama, who has discussed the situation with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has also recorded a message urging an end to the violence for broadcast on Voice of America radio.

Odinga and Kibaki are engaged in an electoral standoff that has sparked riots and inflamed tribal rivalries across a country seen as a strong U.S. ally and a rare example of a stable democracy in Africa. Violence throughout Kenya has resulted in more than 500 deaths.

Interestingly, Obama hasn't mentioned his Kenyan intervention during his campaign throughout New Hampshire, and his staff has done little to publicize his actions, even though they might draw a positive reaction. That suggests Obama may see this as a personal endeavor.

But it also might foreshadow how Obama would handle foreign policy as president. Engaging the principals in the Kenyan crisis directly seems in line with the vision he's spelled out in debates, one that includes face-to-face meetings with foreign leaders, including those opposed to American interests.

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