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Illinois Democrat Has 'Rock Star' Appeal

A hug from John Edwards (search). A handshake from John Kerry (search).

All of this for a guy who has yet to serve in Congress, Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama (search). The 42-year-old has even been invited to be a keynote speaker at the Democratic convention in Boston next week.

"It's unusual for them to select somebody who already doesn't hold national office and as my wife says, 'don't screw it up,'" Obama said.

Democratic leaders say this law school professor has botched little in his professional and political life. But in his personal life, Obama — whose Kenyan father and American mother divorced when he was young — acknowledges an adolescence of rebellion, which included focusing on sports more than school and experimenting with drugs.

But in college, he became the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review (search).

During his eight-year career in the Illinois state Senate, Obama spearheaded legislation to improve access to health insurance for children and reform the state's death penalty laws. Obama's peers say empathy defines him and challenge motivates him.

At this point, Obama is unopposed in the general election and he's soaring in the polls.

"Obama's campaign has generated an almost rock-star following," said Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., chairman of the Democratic National Senate Campaign Committee (search). "Praise for this rising star has come from both parties."

Click on the video box at the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.