Barack Obama

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Barack Obama, President of the United States, was formerly the jr. senator for the state of Illinois

Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., a Democrat, is the former President of the United States. He was elected President of the United States on November 4, 2008, becoming the first African American President of the U.S. and the 44th U.S. President. This article has been tagged for review, verification, and update. It is not currently up to date.

2012 Presidential Race

The New York Times reported in May 2012 that Obama's top advisers is limited to a group of 10 individuals which offer "a revealing look at the pecking order of the hierarchy in the Obama campaign." The attendance roster at these regular meetings "reveals a mix of White House staff, including: David Plouffe, a senior adviser and campaign manager from 2008; Jack Lew, the chief of staff; Valerie Jarrett and Pete Rouse, senior advisers; Dan Pfeiffer, the communications director; and Alyssa Mastromonaco, a deputy chief of staff who has worked for Mr. Obama since his days in the United States Senate. The campaign team includes: Jim Messina, the campaign manager, who sets the agenda for the meeting; David Axelrod, a senior strategist; Stephanie Cutter, a deputy campaign manager; and Larry Grisolano, a top political adviser." [1]

Campaign Contributions

Opensecrets reports that Barack Obama's largest campaign contributors are as follows.

Donor Amount Reported
University of California $1,212,245
Microsoft Corp $814,645
Google Inc $801,770
US Government $728,647
Harvard University $668,368


Record, positions and controversies


Obama was born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Obama studied for two years at Occidental College,[2] before transferring to Columbia University.[3] There he majored in political science, with a specialization in international relations. Upon graduation, he worked for a year at newsletter publisher Business International (now part of The Economist Group), and moved to Chicago, where he was a community organizer in the Altgeld Gardens housing project on the city's South Side. It was during his time spent here that Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ. [4]

He left Chicago to study law at Harvard University, where he was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.[5] He graduated magna cum laude. After law school, he returned to Chicago and organized an aggressive voter registration effort that registered over 100,000 voters and aided in the election of President Bill Clinton and Senator Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Soon after, he joined a local civil rights law firm, and he became a lecturer of constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

Political career

1996-2000, Illinois State Senate

In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate from the south side neighborhood of Hyde Park, in Chicago's 13th District. An element of controversy surrounded the election, due to Obama's legal challenges to the petition signatures of all 4 opponents in the race, resulting in their subsequent disqualification.[6] Incumbent, Alice Palmer, following an unsuccessful bid at Congress, chose to defend her Illinois Senate seat despite having less than 2 days to gather the required petition signatures to run. Her campaign asked Obama, who she had previously supported, to step down.[7] Not only did he not do so, he challenged the petition signatures of her and the other 3 candidates in the race, managing to disqualify enough to ensure he could run unopposed on the ballot.[8] Grounds for dismissal of signatures included signatures printed but not signed, valid but collected by someone underage, and valid for the 1995 polling sheets but not the more recent 1996 ones.[9]

Following his election win, Obama served as chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee when the Democrats regained control of the chamber. Regarded as a staunch liberal, but also "respected ... as a bipartisan dealmaker," during his tenure in the legislature, he helped to author a state Earned Income Tax Credit that provided benefits to the working poor. He also worked for legislation that would cover residents who could not afford health insurance. He successfully helped pass bills to increase funding for AIDS prevention and care programs.

2000 Congressional Race

In 2000, he ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for Illinois' 1st Congressional district against incumbent Bobby Rush. Rush had suggested during the campaign that Obama "wasn't black enough" for the position, and stated, "He went to Harvard and became an educated fool. We’re not impressed with these folks with these Eastern elite degrees." In the primarily black district, Obama struggled for support from the black community since, as the New York Times noted, he was viewed as a Harvard professor living in Hyde park.[10] Rush received 61% of the vote, while Obama received 30%.[11]

2000-2003, Illinois State Senate

Obama during this time passed a bill to put limits on racial profiling and place cameras in police interrogation rooms. [12] These bills, including the racial profiling bill originally worked on by Senator Rickey Hendon, had been previously the efforts of other Senators. Nonetheless, Obama struck a deal with then-head of the Illinois Senate, Emil Jones, in a well-recorded conversation asking Jones to make him a U.S. Senator, following which, Jones appointed him head of prominent, headline-grabbing legislation worked on by other Senators to raise his political profile, and had him craft legislation to meet major tragedies in the news.[13]

As Houston Press reporter Todd Spivak would note:

"But what's interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year... Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills... During his seventh and final year in the state Senate, Obama's stats soared. He sponsored a whopping 26 bills passed into law — including many he now cites in his presidential campaign when attacked as inexperienced. It was a stunning achievement that started him on the path of national politics — and he couldn't have done it without Jones. Before Obama ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, he was virtually unknown even in his own state. Polls showed fewer than 20 percent of Illinois voters had ever heard of Barack Obama. Jones further helped raise Obama's profile by having him craft legislation addressing the day-to-day tragedies that dominated local news ­headlines."[14]"

Spivak quotes another Illinois Senator, Rickey Hendon, as saying,

"I took all the beatings and insults and endured all the racist comments over the years from nasty Republican committee chairmen, Barack didn't have to endure any of it, yet, in the end, he got all the credit. I don't consider it bill jacking, but no one wants to carry the ball 99 yards all the way to the one-yard line, and then give it to the halfback who gets all the credit and the stats in the record book."

2000-2004, U.S. Senate

In 2004, Obama ran for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. Despite opposition in the Primary Election from tough challenger Blair Hull, Hull would collapse after pressure from journalists unsealed his divorce files, with Obama taking 54% of the vote.[15][16] Following his victory, Obama squared off against Republican Jack Ryan, who ultimately had to drop out of the race due to a lawsuit from the Chicago Tribune that forced the unsealing of his divorce records.[17] Alan Keyes was chosen as the new GOP candidate. Keyes had gained much attention as a conservative firebrand in his unsuccessful presidential campaigns in 1996 and 2000. A Marylander, Keyes had established legal residency in Illinois with the nomination, the only requirement to run for office. The Chicago Tribune sarcastically greeted Keyes by editorializing: "Mr. Keyes may have noticed a large body of water as he flew into O'Hare. That is called Lake Michigan."

After a campaign in which Keyes called Obama's position on abortion, "the slave-holder's position"[18], accused gays and lesbians of being "selfish hedonists"[19], and claimed that Jesus would not vote for his opponent[20], Obama won handily in the general election, receiving 70% of the popular vote to Keyes's 27%.[21]

Obama was chosen to deliver a keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.[22]

The April 18 2005 issue of TIME magazine listed the 100 most influential people in the world. Obama was included on the list under the section of 'Leaders and Revolutionaries' for his high-profile entrance to federal politics and his popularity within the Democratic Party.[23] British journal the New Statesman listed Obama as one of 10 people who will change the world in its October 2005 edition.[24]

First moves as a senator

Obama was sworn in on January 4, 2005. He ranked 99th out of 100 Senators in terms of official seniority (greater seniority brings greater privileges in the Senate).

Obama's first action in the Senate 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. [25]

Obama came to the Senate with a plan that resembled the career of another high-profile Senator's first term, Hillary Clinton. Obama's "Plan" called for him to focus his energies on his home state, and in spite of overtures from more liberal activists, to stay out of the spotlight. In the first few months Obama held 39 town hall meetings. However, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the picture of class and race that it exposed caused Obama to step into the national spotlight sooner than he expected. He said of his first year, "I could have been much more quiet this year than I have been and gotten away with it ... People would have explained it as, 'He is taking the Hillary model.'"[26]

2008 presidential race

Obama announced on January 16, 2007 that he would "create a presidential exploratory committee" as the first step towards his potential candidacy for the 2008 presidential election [27]

On February 10, 2007, he announced in Springfield, Illinois that he would indeed seek the presidency in 2008. [2]

Also in February 2007, Dan Shapiro announced that he would become Obama's political advisor/strategist. [28] Shapiro was a long-time political operative on Capitol Hill, and was previously an advisor to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). The appointment of Shapiro coincided with Obama's desire to deliver several speeches (including at the March 2007 AIPAC annual conference) to stress his devotion to Israel.

Shmuel Rosner described his view of the events in his Haaretz blog: "Oh, let's just say it: Jewish voters are major donors to the Democratic Party and its nominees." [29] Worth noting is that Lee Rosenberg, AIPAC's treasurer, is also "a backer, and a member of Obama's finance committee."[30] On July 11, 2007, the Obama campaign appointed Eric Lynn as its "liaison to Jewish Community" and advisor on Middle East issues.[31] Immediately after his appointment, Lynn beamed out an email that can be seen here. It's subject was "Barack Obama: A Strong Record of Supporting Israel."

Resignation from Senate

On November 16, 2008, President-Elect Obama resigned his seat in the United States Senate. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, will appoint a replacement.[32]


More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Barack Obama. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


Transition office contacts



Articles and Resources

See also


8New York PostObama Tried To Stall Gis' Iraq Withdrawal.

Articles about Barack Obama

By Barack Obama

Articles by Barack Obama

Interviews and Speeches

Published Works by Barack Obama

  • The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Crown, 2006, ISBN 0307237699; Audio CD: ISBN 0739334085.
  • Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, New York: Times Books, 1995; 2004 reprint: ISBN 1400082773; Audio CD: ISBN 0739321005.

Local blogs and discussion sites

Related Congresspedia/SourceWatch Resources


  1. Jeff Zeleny, “On Sundays, Tight Obama Circle Sizes Up Election”, NYT, May 5, 2012.
  2. Gordon, Larry (January 29, 2007). "Occidental recalls 'Barry' Obama". Los Angeles Times: p. B1. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  3. Boss-Bicak, Shira (January 2005). "Barack Obama '83". Columbia College Today. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  4. Barb Powell, "Exclusive: UCC member Sen. Barack Obama discusses faith and politics," United Church of Christ News, June 29, 2006.
  5. Butterfield, Fox (February 6, 1990). "First black elected to head Harvard's Law Review". The New York Times: p. A20. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
  6. "Barack Obama Knows His Way Around a Ballot," Chicago Tribune, April, 2007.
  7. "In Illinois, Obama Proved Pragmatic and Shrewd," New York Times, July 30, 2007.
  8. "Transcript of Barack Obama Revealed," CNN, August 20, 2008.
  9. "Obama played hardball in first Chicago campaign," CNN Election Center 2008, May 30, 2008.
  10. Janny Scott, "In 2000, a Streetwise Veteran Schooled a Bold Young Obama," New York Times, September 9, 2007.
  11. Election results for U.S. House seats from Illinois, Federal Elections Commission.
  12. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, "The Great Black Hope," The Washington Monthly, November, 2004.
  13. [ "Obama's Political 'Godfather' in Illinois," Associated Press, March, 2008.
  14. Todd Spivak, [ "Barack Obama and Me," Houston Press, February, 2008.
  15. [ "Obama routs Democratic foes," Chicago Tribune, March, 2004.
  16. "The Rise and Fall of Blair Hull," The Claremont Institute, March, 2004.
  17. [ "Jack Ryan Abandons Senate Bid," USA Today, June, 2004.
  18. [ "Keyes assails Obama's abortion views," Associated Press, August 9, 2004.
  19. [ "Keyes: Cheney's gay daughter a sinner," Associated Press, September 2, 2004.
  20. Jill Stanek, [ "Why Jesus would not vote for Barack Obama," World Net Daily, July 19, 2006.
  21. [ "Election Results, U.S. Senate/Illinois," CNN.
  22. [ "Transcript: Illinois Senate Candidate Barack Obama," Washington Post, July 27, 2004.
  23. Perry Bacon, Jr., "Barack Obama: The Future of the Democratic Party?" Time, 2005.
  24. Andrew Stephen, "10 people - Andrew Stephen on America's fastest-rising political star" New Statesman, October 17, 2005.
  25. Lynn Sweet, " Lawmakers Launch Historic Protest of Electoral Vote," Chicago Sun Times, January 7, 2005.
  26. Lynn Sweet, "Obama Opens New Chapter Chicago Sun-Times, January 22, 2006.
  27. "Obama to form panel to explore presidential bid," CNN, January 16, 2007.
  28. Shmuel Rosner, "Obama will soon make the case that he'll be as strong on Israel as anyone," Haaretz, July 3, 2007.
  29. Shmuel Rosner, "Obama will soon make the case that he'll be as strong on Israel as anyone," Haaretz, July 3, 2007.
  30. Larry Cohler-Esses, "Obama Pivots Away From Dovish Past," Jewish Week, March 9, 2007.
  31. "Obama names liaison to Jewish Community," Barack Obama Report, July 20, 2007.
  32. "Obama resigns Senate seat, thanks Illinois," The Washington Post, November 16, 2008