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Barack Obama, president Barack Obama, Barack Obama portrait

Barack Obama, the President of the United States

November 04, 2011
by findingDulcinea Staff
Barack Obama made history when he was elected the 44th president of the United States, becoming the first black man to hold the nation’s highest office.

Barack Obama’s Early Life

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Born in Hawaii to a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, Barack Obama’s early life was marked by transition. He lost touch with his father when he was 2 years old. Soon after, his mother remarried—to an Indonesian student named Lolo Soetoro—and Obama moved with his family to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he received his early education.

Later, Obama moved back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents during high school, and then attended both Occidental College in California and Columbia University in New York City to earn his undergraduate degree in 1983.

He went on to work as a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side before entering Harvard Law School in 1988. He returned to Chicago after graduation and worked for Project Vote, at a law firm and as a lecturer at the University of Chicago. Obama entered politics in 1996, winning a seat in the Illinois state Senate.

In the Senate

Obama burst onto the national scene in 2004 while running for the U.S. Senate. He was chosen to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. In the speech, titled “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama revealed his political platform, which he fleshed out further in a book of the same name. (The title was derived from a sermon by his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.)

Obama’s “politics of hope” proposed a government that would reject “cynicism.” He concluded his speech with phrases that would be echoed during his presidential campaign: “I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs for the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.”

Obama easily defeated challenger Alan Keyes and served four years in the Senate. Visit The Washington Post to see his Senate voting record and Gov Track.us for specific voting records and initiatives he undertook.

Path to the Presidency

Obama entered the race for president in February 2007 with a speech at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln had delivered his “House Divided” Speech. He defeated the favorite for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, in a contentious primary campaign, and faced Arizona Sen. and Vietnam War hero John McCain in the general election.

Obama campaigned on a theme of “Change we can believe in,” promising to end the Iraq War quickly, to introduce environmentally friendly regulations, and to pass universal health care. His message appealed to Americans frustrated by eight years of the Bush administration and to young voters.

Obama faced questions over his lack of experience and controversies surrounding his ties to radical left-wing figures William Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but the voting public favored him on most of the serious issues.

Obama defeated McCain in the key battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida on his way to winning by a convincing margin of 365 electoral votes to 173, becoming the first black man to be elected president.

The New York Times wrote of the historic occasion, “The election of Mr. Obama amounted to a national catharsis—a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country. But it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago.”

In his victory speech at Grant Park in Chicago, Obama declared, “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: we as a people will get there.”
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