Barack Obama: U.S. presidential election, 2008

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Barack Obama, U.S. Senator (D-Ill.)
This article is part of the
SourceWatch and Congresspedia coverage
of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and
the 2008 presidential election
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  • Barack Obama: U.S. presidential election, 2008
Democratic ticket "top tier"

Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) formally declared his candidacy for U.S. presidential election, 2008 on February 10, 2007, at Springfield, Illinois, "in a setting rife with symbolism and historic links to Abraham Lincoln's fight to end slavery." If elected, he would be the first Black U.S. president. [1]

Obama "contend[ed] he has the experience to know that 'Washington must change' and bill[ed] himself as the leader who will bring a new generational attitude to address the nation's challenges," Rick Pearson and Ray Long wrote in the Chicago Tribune.

Obama "launche[d] his campaign outside the old state Capitol where Lincoln famously decried slavery in an 1858 speech and declared 'a house divided against itself cannot stand'," Reuters's John Whitesides reported. "In a video presentation on his Web site, Obama said the kickoff to his campaign would begin 'a journey to take our country back and fundamentally change the nature of our politics.'"

On January 16, 2007, it was announced that Obama had formed an exploratory committee. [2]

Obama was first elected to Congress November 2, 2004. His next election date is in November 2010.

Controversial matters

Racists endorse Obama

The "brokered" candidate

Declined to support move to question 2004 presidential election

In October 2004, in the third and final debate, U.S. Senate contenders Barack Obama and Republican candidate Alan Keyes were asked to answer "yes" or "no" as to whether they would eliminate the Electoral College. Obama said "yes", that he would.[1]

After joining the U.S. Senate in January 2005, Sen. Obama's first action was to decline to be the Senate co-sponsor of a move to question Ohio's Electoral College votes following the 2004 presidential election. He then voted against the resolution.[2]

"Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus moved to contest the certification of the Ohio votes. Mr. Obama did not join them. In a hastily arranged maiden speech, he said he was convinced that President Bush had won but he also urged Congress to address the need for voting reform."[3][4]

Mr. President, I did not anticipate speaking today, but the importance of this issue is enough for me to address this body.[5]
During the election, I had the occasion of meeting a woman who had supported me in my campaign. She decided to come to shake my hand and take a photograph. She is a wonderful woman. She was not asking for anything. I was very grateful that she took time to come by. It was an unexceptional moment except for the fact that she was born in 1894. Her name is Marguerite Lewis, an African-American woman who had been born in Louisiana, born in the shadow of slavery, born at a time when lynchings were commonplace, born at a time when African Americans and women could not vote. Yet, over the course of decades she had participated in broadening our democracy and ensuring that, in fact, at some point, if not herself, then her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren would be in a position in which they could, too, call themselves citizens of the United States and make certain that this Government works not just on behalf of the mighty and the powerful but also on behalf of people like her.
So the fact that she voted and her vote was counted in this election was of supreme importance to her and it is the memory of talking to her and shaking her hand that causes me to rise on this occasion.
I am absolutely convinced that the President of the United States, George Bush, won this election. I also believe he got more votes in Ohio. As has already been said by some of the speakers in this body, this is not an issue in which we are challenging the outcome of the election. It is important for us to separate the issue of the election outcome with the election process.
I was not in this body 4 years ago, but what I observed as a voter and as a citizen of Illinois 4 years ago was troubling evidence of the fact that not every vote was being counted. It is unfortunate that 4 years later we continue to see circumstances in which people who believe they have the right to vote, who show up at the polls, still continue to confront the sort of problems that have been documented as taking place not just in Ohio but places all across the country.
I strongly urge that this Chamber, as well as the House of Representatives, take it upon itself once and for all to reform this system.
See also: U.S. presidential election, 2004

Related external articles

Obama on Reagan

Illinois State Senate voting record

Missed Committee on Veterans Affairs meetings

"Obama claimed that veterans committee was 'one of my first priorities.' He said, 'One of my first priorities was obtaining a seat on the Veterans Committee…And the thing that I pledged when I was sworn in as the Senator was that if nothing else in the first couple of years in the Senate, I could make absolutely certain that there would have been a strong advocate in the United States Senate,' at a Veterans Town Hall Meeting, May 23, 2005.

"Obama has skipped 19 of 37 VA committee meetings in the 109th congress. Obama’s attendance record was the second worst of all Democrats on the committee. He attended just 18 of the committee’s 37 meetings in Washington D.C.," SusanUnPC reported December 20, 2007, at No Quarter Blog.[6]

Lobbyists on Obama '08 payroll

The Hill reported December 20, 2007:[7]

"Three political aides on Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) payroll were registered lobbyists for dozens of corporations, including Wal-Mart, British Petroleum and Lockheed Martin, while they received payments from his campaign, according to public documents.
"The presence of political operatives with long client lists on Obama’s campaign contrasts with his long-held stand of campaigning against the influence of special interests. Obama has even refused to accept contributions from lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).
"Jen Psaki, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, said no member of Obama’s staff has lobbied since taking a full-time role with his campaign."
"Teal Baker, who received her first payment from Obama’s campaign on June 13, represented 18 corporations between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year while working as a lobbyist for Podesta Group, a K Street powerhouse. Clients paid Podesta Group over $2 million during those six months for Baker and her colleagues to represent them, according to documents filed with the Senate Office of Public Records.
"Clients such as Oshkosh Truck and Pinkerton Consulting paid more than $700,000 for Emmett Beliveau and his colleagues at Patton Boggs to represent them during the first half of 2007. Beliveau received a $3,050 payment from Obama’s campaign for advance work on Feb. 21, a campaign finance report shows.
"Brandon Hurlbut, Obama’s liaison to veterans, union members and senior citizens in New Hampshire, represented clients such as the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the Allegheny County Housing Authority from January to June, according to public records. Six clients paid B&D Consulting $380,000 for Hurlbut to lobby their causes. ... Until recently, Hurlbut had a voice mail greeting at B&D Consulting informing callers that he was on “a temporary leave of absence” to work for Obama’s campaign.
"A receptionist at Podesta Group said Baker was on leave for the next year. Beliveau is no longer listed in the Patton Boggs directory."

On going "oppo"

Voting "present"

On being "Progressive"


Social Security: blame the Baby Boomers

On January 21, 2007, John M. Broder wrote in the New York Times[8]

"The time has come, Senator Barack Obama says, for the baby boomers to get over themselves. ... Obama calculates that Americans of all ages are sick of the feuding boomers and ready to turn to the generation that came of age after Vietnam, after the campus culture wars between freaks and straights, and after young people had given up on what überboomer Hillary Rodham Clinton ... called in a 1969 commencement address a search for 'a more immediate, ecstatic and penetrating mode of living.'"

"Obama is running ads reinforcing the right's bamboozlement that Social Security is running out of money! The language in this ad implies that Social Security's retirement payments are responsible for the shortfall, and does not say that the trust fund was taken to pay for Reagan and Bush's tax cuts," Dave Johnson wrote October 29, 2007, at Seeing the Forest.[9]

"This language in this ad, if seen and heard by millions of people, could make it so much harder to fight back the next time the right tries to kill off the program by claiming it is insolvent.

"I know that Senator Obama's heart is in the right place and he has no intention of harming Social Security. But this ad is a mistake that could backfire. Please stop running this ad and please change the language. Instead of reinforcing the right's lie that Social Security has a problem, let people know that the conservatives took their money from Social Security and gave it out as tax cuts to the rich and THAT is the problem!" Johnson wrote.[9]

Related external articles

Obama v. Clinton

Leadership ability and experience (plus "infalliability and righteousness")

"It's normal for a neophyte candidate on the national stage to get puffed up from his own glowing 'anyone but Hillary' press clippings and on-air fluffings from the likes of Matthews and Russert. But if Obama is going to campaign between now and Iowa on this 'put me on a pedestal' theme, then the Hillary campaign can make some hay over Mr. Obama’s infalliability and righteousness. Of course, when Hillary brings it up, Obama will adopt his own version of the 'they’re ganging up on me' defense by saying she’s resorting to the politics of destruction. But the more and more Obama talks about himself as a righteous, never-wrong truth teller with correct instincts, who runs away from Washington, the more and more he resembles another candidate who bamboozled us back in 2000," Steve Soto wrote November 13, 2007, at The Left Coaster.[10]

Legal career

Related external articles




On the Black vote

Margaret Talev of McClatchy Newspapers reported November 26, 2007, that while speaking in Orangeburg, S.C., Michelle Obama "has a heavy message for blacks in this early voting Southern state: Her husband's chances of defeating Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination may hinge more on them than they do on white voters…. 'I know folks talk in barbershops and beauty salons, and I've heard some folks say, 'That Barack, he seems like a nice guy, but I’m not sure America's ready for a black president,' Michelle Obama told a crowd Tuesday at historically black South Carolina State University. 'We've heard those voices before, voices that say, 'Maybe you should wait' — you know? — 'You can'’t do it,' she said. 'It’s the bitter legacy of racism and discrimination and oppression in this country.'"[11]

Related external articles

Bob Kerrey (on his name)

Political attacks

By Mitt Romney

On foreign policy

General views & experience

"From his uncritical stance of Israel's treatment of Palestinians to his statements about Iran, Barack Obama seems to be trying to prove his hawkish credentials," Bill Fletcher, Jr., wrote May 12, 2007, in The Black Commentator (AlterNet), May 12, 2007.

Obama's article "Renewing American Leadership" was published in the July/August 2007 issue (available online May 30, 2007) of the Council on Foreign Relations' publication Foreign Affairs.

In summary, Obama wrote, "After Iraq, we may be tempted to turn inward. That would be a mistake. The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew. We must bring the war to a responsible end and then renew our leadership -- military, diplomatic, moral -- to confront new threats and capitalize on new opportunities. America cannot meet this century's challenges alone; the world cannot meet them without America."

Related external articles

On nuclear weapons

On Trade Agreements/free trade

"Obama voted to approve the 2006 FTA with Oman. He opposed CAFTA, however, explaining in 2005, 'It does less to protect labor than previous trade agreements, and does little to address enforcement of basic environmental standards in the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.'[12] In an August 2007 Democratic debate, Obama said he would meet with the Canadian and Mexican heads of state to 'try to amend NAFTA,' saying the agreement 'should reflect the principle that our trade should not just be good for Wall Street, but should also be good for Main Street'."[13]

"But Obama said a proposed treaty deal with Peru is enforceable, and he would support it, ... 'What I am not willing to do is to say on a blanket basis 'We aren't going to have international trade agreements' ... I think that is a mistake. We can't draw a moat around the U.S. economy.'"[14]

Obama's "trade strategy, like much else, is still short on details ... But judging by his latest book, Mr Obama is more concerned with helping people deal with globalisation than trying to slow it down. One trade wonk who knows both candidates says that Mr Obama is more of an instinctive free-trader than Mrs Clinton," The Economist wrote May 10, 2007.[15]

Related external articles

On the war in Iraq

On al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistan

On war with Iran

On Israel and the Middle East

On July 20, 2007, Eric Lynn, OB08 "Jewish affairs and Middle East advisor", beamed out an email Subject: Barack Obama: A Strong Record of Supporting Israel.

On domestic issues


Primary elections




New Hampshire

South Carolina

On the campaign trail

Obama "Fact Check"

Imitation, they say, is a form of flattery. On November 12, 2007, Barack Obama's campaign launched a "Fact Check" section on its website in direct response to rival Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's The Fact Hub on her Hillary Hub website.

Campaign team and advisers





Secret Service protection


Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch/Congresspedia articles


  1. Elaine Helm, "Obama, Keyes defend domestic policy stances. Gay marriage, stem cell research hot topics at last televised debate between Illinois candidates for U.S. Senate seat,", October 24, 2004.
  2. Lynn Sweet, " Lawmakers Launch Historic Protest of Electoral Vote," Chicago Sun Times, January 7, 2005.
  3. Janny Scott, "A Biracial Candidate Walks His Own Fine Line," New York Times, December 29, 2007. See page 3.
  4. "President Certified After Objection Delay," Fox News, January 6, 2005: "In his first speech on the Senate floor, Obama said that while he is 'absolutely convinced' Bush won the election he recognized the importance of debating the certification. ... 'We have an obligation to fix the problems' of voting in the United States, he said."
  5. Found in Congressional Record, January 6, 2005. No link yet available.
  6. "While Illinois’, and the Nation’s, Veterans Suffer, Obama Campaigns," No Quarter Blog, December 20, 2007.
  7. "Lobbyists on Obama's 08 payroll," The Hill, December 20, 2007.
  8. John M. Broder, "Shushing the Baby Boomers," New York Times, January 21, 2007.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Davd Johnson, "Obama's New Ad Could Help Kill Social Security," Seeing the Forest, October 29, 2007.
  10. Steve Soto, "Obama: 'I Don’t (Make) A Lot Of Mistakes'," The Left Coaster, November 13, 2007.
  11. Margaret Talev, "Michelle Obama stumps to sway black women to husband's campaign," McClatchy Newspapers, November 26, 2007.
  12. Barack Obama, "Why I oppose CAFTA," Chicago Tribune, June 30, 2005.
  13. Issues Tracker: The Candidates on Trade," Council on Foreign Relations, October 18, 2007.
  14. Kevin Landrigan, "Anti-war activist calls out Obama on Iraq troop withdrawals," The Telegraph (Nashua, N.H.), October 10, 2007.
  15. "Who's the real left-winger?" The Economist, May 10, 2007.

External resources




On the Issues

External articles