Who Is Barack Obama?
Barack Obama's Bid for the Presidency
By Cara J. Stevens
Image Courtesy of: Obama for America
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A New Political Career
Barack liked working as a lawyer, but he felt like he could do more. In 1996, he became a State Senator, representing his neighborhood of Hyde Park, Illinois. After three years working for his community in the Illinois Senate, in 2000 he decided to run for Congress, to represent his state. He lost the election badly, but he learned a lot of important lessons on how to run a campaign.
Armed with a lot of information on how to do a better job campaigning, and with new friends at his side, he ran against two other candidates to be the State Senator. In November of 2004 he won the race and became a U.S. Senator, representing his home state of Illinois.
Off to the Presidency
In 2004, Barack gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention. He talked about hope, and working together and making America a better place. Many people were inspired by his speech and tried to convince him to run for President in the next election. He took a long time to think about it. He visited his family in Africa and he wrote a book about his ideas and opinions called The Audacity of Hope which came out in October 2006.
On February 11, 2007, Barack Obama announced that he would run for President of the United States in 2008. His first challenge was to win the nomination from his political party, the Democratic Party. There were eight people competing for one spot as the Democratic nominee, but little by little six other politicians dropped out, leaving only Barack and his main rival, Senator Hillary Clinton from New York. It was the first time that either a woman or a black man had come so far in an American presidential race. For the first time in American history, there were no white men competing for a spot on a major party’s ticket. Both candidates were very proud that they had made it so far in the race.
Hillary Clinton, Barack’s main competition, is a former First Lady. She is married to former President Bill Clinton. Many people felt that she had the most experience for the job. Barack had to work very hard to win over voters who weren’t sure who they wanted to support.
Many people thought Barack didn’t have enough experience. Others thought he was too young. But a lot of people liked his ideas about bringing people together and changing America. Barack traveled all across the country to tell his story and win supporters. After long hard months, Barack won his party’s support.
His next big job was to beat John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate. Barack had to go back across the country, this time trying to convince people that he was going to be a better president than John McCain. Barack chose Senator Joseph Biden to be his running mate. They worked as a team to get voters to support them. John McCain chose Governor Sarah Palin from Alaska to run with him. The two teams were in a race to get the most votes on Election Day.
Barack and his team could not visit every family in the country personally, so they decided make a television program to talk directly to voters. He bought time on seven TV stations, which played his commercial all over the country all at the same time. Many people watched it, and many people liked it.