"I started realizing that when you get in the habit of taking corporate jets and eating dinner with lobbyists, you start getting detached from the people that you represent," he says. "One of the things that I'm always worried about is starting to represent Washington to my constituents instead of representing my constituents in Washington."
One night, while waiting to board a flight at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Senator Obama says he met a young man who had Parkinson's disease. The man said doctors didn't think he'd ever be able to throw a baseball to his 3-year-old son, and he asked Senator Obama to vote for stem cell research legislation. "It was just a small moment, but it reminded me of why I got into politics and why you want to make sure that you are always there," he says.
With all the attention Senator Obama gets, he says it's sometimes hard to separate public service and celebrity status. "Politics sometimes blends in with celebrity, and it gobbles you up. The tendency is for people to want to see you perform and to say what they want to hear, as opposed to you trying to stay in touch with that deepest part of you—that kernel of truth inside of each other."