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Barack Obama

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Barack Obama

Junior Senator
from Illinois
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Serving with Richard Durbin
Preceded by Peter Fitzgerald
Succeeded by Incumbent

August 4, 1961 (age 45)
Born
Honolulu, Hawaii
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse Michelle Obama
Columbia University,
Alma mater
Harvard Law School
Religion Christian (United Church of Christ)
Signature

Barack Hussein Obama (born August 4, 1961) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and a
member of the Democratic Party. The U.S. Senate Historical Office lists him as the fifth African American
[1]
Senator in U.S. history and the only African American currently serving in the U.S. Senate.

Born to a Kenyan father and an American mother, Obama grew up in culturally diverse surroundings. He spent
most of his childhood in the majority-minority U.S. state of Hawaii and lived for four years in Indonesia. After
graduating from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer,
university lecturer, and civil rights lawyer before entering politics. He served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to
2004, launching his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2003.

Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention while still an Illinois state
legislator. Boosted by increased national standing, he went on to win election to the U.S. Senate in November
[2][3]
2004 with a landslide 70% of the vote in an election year marked by Republican gains. As a member of
the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, Obama co-sponsored the enactment of conventional weapons
control and transparency legislation, and made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

[4]
He is among the Democratic Party's leading candidates for nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
Since announcing his candidacy in February 2007, Obama has emphasized ending the Iraq War and
[5][6]
implementing universal health care as campaign themes. He married in 1992 and has two daughters. He
has authored two bestselling books: a memoir of his youth entitled Dreams
from My Father , and The Audacity
[7]
of Hope , a personal commentary on U.S. politics.

Contents

[hide]

● 1 Early life and career
● 2 State legislature
● 3 Keynote address at 2004 Democratic National Convention
● 4 Senate campaign
● 5 Senate career
❍ 5.1 Legislation
❍ 5.2 Official travel
● 6 Presidential campaign
● 7 Political advocacy
● 8 Personal life
● 9 Books authored
● 10 Cultural and political image
● 11 References
● 12 Cited works
● 13 Further reading
● 14 External links

[edit] Early life and career

See also: Dreams from My
Father

Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. (born in Nyanza Province, Kenya) and Ann
[8]
Dunham (born in Wichita, Kansas). His parents met while both were attending the University of Hawaii at
[9]
Manoa, where his father was enrolled as a foreign student. Obama's parents separated when he was two
[10][11]
years old and later divorced. His father went to Harvard University to pursue Ph.D. studies, then
[12]
returned to Kenya, where he died in an auto accident when the younger Obama was twenty-one years old.
[13]
His mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian foreign student, with whom she had one daughter, Maya.
[14]
The family moved to Jakarta in 1967, where Obama attended local schools from ages 6 to 10. He then
returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending Punahou School from 5th grade
[15]
until his graduation in 1979. Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer a few months after the publication of
[16]
his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father .

In the memoir, Obama describes his experiences growing up in his mother's American middle class family. His
[17]
knowledge about his absent Luo father came mainly through family stories and photographs. Of his early
childhood, Obama writes: "That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as
[18]
pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind." The book describes his struggles as a
[19]
young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He used alcohol, marijuana, and
[20]
cocaine during his teenage years, Obama writes, to "push questions of who I was out of my mind."

After graduating from Punahou, Obama studied at Occidental College for two years, then transferred to
[21]
Columbia University, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.
[22] [23]
He received his B.A. degree in 1983, then worked for one year at Business International Corporation.
In 1985, Obama moved to Chicago to direct a non-profit project assisting local churches to organize job
[24] [25]
training programs. He entered Harvard Law School in 1988. In 1990, The New
York Times reported his election as the Harvard
[26]
Law Review 's "first black president in its 104-year history." He completed
[27]
his J.D. degree magna cum laude in 1991. On returning to Chicago,
[27]
Obama directed a voter registration drive. As an associate attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Galland from
[28]
1993 to 1996, he represented community organizers, discrimination claims, and voting rights cases. He
was a lecturer of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 until his election to the
[29]
U.S. Senate in 2004.

[edit] State legislature

Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 from the state's 13th District in the south-side Chicago
[30]
neighborhood of Hyde Park. In 2000, he made an unsuccessful Democratic primary run for the U.S. House
[31]
of Representatives seat held by four-term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush. He was overwhelmingly
reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998 and 2002, officially resigning in November 2004, following his election
[32][33]
to the U.S. Senate. Among his major accomplishments as a state legislator, Obama's U.S. Senate web
site lists: "creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit"; "an expansion of early childhood
[34]
education"; and "legislation requiring the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases."
Reviewing Obama's career in the Illinois Senate, a February 2007 article in the
Washington Post noted his work with both Democrats and Republicans
[35][36]
in drafting bipartisan legislation on ethics and health care reform. During his 2004 U.S. Senate
campaign, Obama won the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, whose officials cited his
"longtime support of gun control measures and his willingness to negotiate compromises," despite his support
[37]
for some bills the police union had opposed. He was also criticized by a rival pro-choice candidate in the
Democratic primary and by his Republican pro-life opponent in the general election for having voted either
[35][38]
"present" or "no" on anti-abortion legislation.

[edit] Keynote address at 2004 Democratic National Convention

See also: 2004 Democratic
National Convention

Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston,
[39][40]
Massachusetts, while still serving as a state legislator. After describing his maternal grandfather's
experiences as a World War II veteran and a beneficiary of the New Deal's FHA and G.I. Bill programs, Obama
said:

No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their
bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America
has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we
can do better. And they want that choice.

Questioning the Bush administration's management of the Iraq War, Obama spoke of an enlisted Marine,
Corporal Seamus Ahern from East Moline, Illinois, asking, "Are we serving Seamus as well as he is serving us?"
He continued:
When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not
to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families
while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never, ever go to war
without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Finally, he spoke for national unity:

The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for
Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them too. We worship an
awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries
in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we got some gay friends
in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported
the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of
[41]
us defending the United States of America.

The speech was Obama's introduction to most of America. Its enthusiastic reception at the convention and
[42][43]
widespread coverage by national media gave him instant celebrity status.

[edit] Senate campaign

Main article: Illinois
United States Senate
election, 2004

In 2003, Obama began his run for the U.S. Senate open seat vacated by Peter Fitzgerald. In early opinion
polls leading up to the Democratic primary, Obama trailed multimillionaire businessman Blair Hull and Illinois
[44] [44]
Comptroller Dan Hynes. However, Hull's popularity declined following allegations of domestic abuse.
Obama's candidacy was boosted by an advertising campaign featuring images of the late Chicago Mayor
Harold Washington and the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon; the support of Simon's daughter; and political
endorsements by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago
[45][46]
Sun-Times . Obama received over 52% of the vote in the March 2004 primary,
[47]
emerging 29% ahead of his nearest Democratic rival. His opponent in the general election was expected to
be Republican primary winner Jack Ryan. However, Ryan withdrew from the race in June 2004, following
public disclosure of child custody divorce records containing sexual allegations by Ryan's ex-wife, actress Jeri
[48]
Ryan. In August 2004, with less than three months to go before election day, Alan Keyes accepted the
[49]
Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan. A long-time resident of Maryland, Keyes established
[50]
legal residency in Illinois with the nomination. Through three televised debates, Obama and Keyes
[51]
expressed opposing views on stem cell research, abortion, gun control, school vouchers, and tax cuts. In
[52]
the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes's 27%.

[edit] Senate career
[53]
Obama was sworn in as a Senator on January 4, 2005. He hired former Senate Democratic Leader Tom
Daschle's ex-chief of staff for the same position, and Karen Kornbluh, an economist who was deputy chief of
[54]
staff to former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, as his policy adviser. In July 2005, Samantha
[55]
Power, Pulitzer-winning author on human rights and genocide, joined Obama's team. An October 2005
article in the British journal New Statesman listed Obama as one of "10
[56]
people who could change the world." Three months into his Senate career, and again in 2007,
[57]
Time magazine named Obama one of "the world's most influential people." During his first two
[58]
and a half years in the Senate, Obama received Honorary Doctorates of Law from Knox College, University
[59] [60] [61]
of Massachusetts Boston, Northwestern University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Southern New
[62]
Hampshire University. He is a member of the Senate committees on Foreign Relations; Health, Education,
[63]
Labor and Pensions; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Veterans' Affairs; and the
[64]
Congressional Black Caucus.

[edit] Legislation

Obama sponsored 152 bills and resolutions brought before the 109th Congress in 2005 and 2006, and
[65][66]
cosponsored another 427. His first bill was the "Higher Education Opportunity through Pell Grant
[67]
Expansion Act." Entered in fulfillment of a campaign promise, the bill proposed increasing the maximum
[68]
amount of Pell Grant awards to help students from lower income families pay their college tuitions. The bill
did not progress beyond committee and was never voted on by the Senate.

Obama took an active role in the Senate's drive for improved border security and immigration reform.
Beginning in 2005, he co-sponsored the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" introduced by Sen.
[69]
John McCain (R-AZ). Obama later added three amendments to S. 2611, the "Comprehensive Immigration
[70][71]
Reform Act," sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). S. 2611 passed the Senate in May 2006, but
[72]
failed to gain majority support in the U.S. House of Representatives. In September 2006, Obama supported
a related bill, the Secure Fence Act, authorizing construction of fencing and other security improvements along
[73]
the United States–Mexico border. President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act into law in October 2006,
[74]
calling it "an important step toward immigration reform."
President Bush signs the "Coburn-Obama"
Federal Funding Accountability and
[75]
Transparency Act of 2006.

Partnering first with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), and then with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Obama successfully
introduced two initiatives bearing his name. "Lugar-Obama" expands the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat
[76][77]
reduction concept to conventional weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and anti-personnel mines.
The "Coburn-Obama Transparency Act" provides for a web site, managed by the Office of Management and
Budget, listing all organizations receiving Federal funds from 2007 onward, and providing breakdowns by the
[78][79]
agency allocating the funds, the dollar amount given, and the purpose of the grant or contract. On
December 22, 2006, President Bush signed into law the "Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security,
and Democracy Promotion Act," marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary
[80]
sponsor.

On the first day of the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress, in a column published in the
Washington Post , Obama called for an end to "any and all practices
[81]
that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a public servant has become indebted to a lobbyist."
He joined with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in strengthening restrictions on travel in corporate jets to S.1, the
[82][83]
Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007, which passed the Senate with a 96-2 majority.
Obama joined Charles Schumer (D-NY) in sponsoring S. 453, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal
elections, including fraudulent flyers and automated phone calls, as witnessed in the 2006 midterm elections.
[84][85]
Obama's energy initiatives scored pluses and minuses with environmentalists, who welcomed his
sponsorship with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) of a climate change bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-
[86][87]
thirds by 2050, but were skeptical of Obama's support for a bill promoting liquefied coal production.
Also during the first month of the 110th Congress, Obama introduced the "Iraq War De-Escalation Act," a bill
that caps troop levels in Iraq at January 10, 2007 levels, begins phased redeployment on May 1, 2007, and
[88][89]
removes all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008.

[edit] Official travel
Obama joins Nobel Peace
Prize winner Wangari Maathai for
a tree planting in Nairobi's Uhuru
[90]
Park.

Obama traveled to Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan in August 2005 with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), then
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The trip focused on strategies to control the world's
supply of conventional weapons, biological weapons, and weapons of mass destruction, as a strategic first
[91]
defense against the threat of future terrorist attacks. Lugar and Obama inspected a Nunn-Lugar program-
[92]
supported nuclear warhead destruction facility at Saratov, in southern European Russia. In Ukraine, they
toured a disease control and prevention facility and witnessed the signing of a bilateral pact to secure
[93]
biological pathogens and combat risks of infectious disease outbreaks from natural causes or bioterrorism.

In January 2006, Obama joined a Congressional delegation for meetings with U.S. military in Kuwait and Iraq.
After the visits, Obama traveled to Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. While in Israel, Obama met
[94]
with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Obama also met with a group of Palestinian students two
weeks before Hamas won the January 2006 Palestinian legislative election. ABC News
7 (Chicago) reported Obama telling the students that "the U.S. will never
recognize winning Hamas candidates unless the group renounces its fundamental mission to eliminate Israel,"
and that he had conveyed the same message in his meeting with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud
[95]
Abbas.

Obama left for his third official trip in August 2006, traveling to South Africa and Kenya, and making stops in
Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad. He flew his wife and two daughters from Chicago to join him in a visit to his
[96]
father's birthplace, a village near Kisumu in rural western Kenya. Enthusiastic crowds greeted Obama's
[97]
public appearances. In a public gesture aimed to encourage more Kenyans to undergo voluntary HIV
[98]
testing, Obama and his wife took HIV tests at a Kenyan clinic. In a nationally televised speech at the
[99]
University of Nairobi, he spoke forcefully on the influence of ethnic rivalries and corruption in Kenya. The
speech touched off a public debate among rival leaders, some formally challenging Obama's remarks as unfair
[100][101]
and improper, others defending his positions.

[edit] Presidential campaign

Main article: Barack Obama
presidential campaign, 2008

20,000 people attended this February 2007
Obama rally in Austin, Texas. Obama
campaign events continue to draw large
[102]
crowds.

In February 2007, standing before the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, Obama announced his
[5]
candidacy for the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Describing his working life in Illinois, and symbolically
linking his presidential campaign to Abraham Lincoln's 1858 House Divided speech, Obama said: "That is why,
in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where
common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for
[103]
President of the United States of America."

The announcement followed months of speculation on whether Obama would run in 2008.

Through the fall of 2006, Obama had spoken at political events across the country in support of Democratic
candidates for the midterm elections. In September 2006, he was the featured speaker at Iowa Senator Tom
Harkin's annual steak fry, an event traditionally attended by presidential hopefuls in the lead-up to the Iowa
[104]
caucus. Speculation intensified in October 2006 when Obama first said he had "thought about the
possibility" of running for president, departing from earlier statements that he intended to serve out his six-
[105]
year Senate term through 2010. Following Obama's statement, opinion polling organizations added his
name to surveyed lists of Democratic candidates. The first such poll, taken in November 2006, ranked Obama
in second place with 17% support among Democrats after Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) who placed first with
[106]
28% of the responses. In December 2006, Obama spoke at a New Hampshire event celebrating
[107][108]
Democratic Party midterm election victories in the first-in-the-nation U.S. presidential primary state.

Obama's campaign reported raising US$25.8 million between January 1 and March 31 of 2007. The donations
came from 104,000 individual donors, with US$6.9 million raised through the Internet from 50,000 of the
[109]
donors. US$24.8 million of Obama's first quarter funds can be used in the primaries, the highest of any
[110]
2008 presidential candidate. Obama's fundraising prowess was affirmed again in the second quarter of
2007, when his campaign raised an additional $32.5 million, the most ever raised by a Democratic Presidential
candidate in a single quarter. Through the first two quarters of fundraising, Obama's campaign has received
[111]
donations from a grand total of about 258,000 contributors, the most of any 2008 candidate.

In early May 2007, the U.S. Secret Service announced that Obama had been placed under their protection.
The protection was not in response to any specific threat, but the campaign had received "hate mail, calls and
other 'threatening materials'" in the past, and officials felt that the large crowds and increased campaign
[112]
activity warranted the order. The Rasmussen polling organization reported in May 2007 that 49% of
[113]
Americans consider it "somewhat likely" or "very likely" that Obama will be elected. In the same week,
Zogby International reported that Obama leads all prospective Republican opponents in polling for the 2008
[114] [115]
general election. If elected, Obama would become the first non-white U.S. president.

[edit] Political advocacy

See also: Political
positions of Barack Obama

On the role of government in economic affairs, Obama has written: "we should be asking ourselves what mix
of policies will lead to a dynamic free market and widespread economic security, entrepreneurial innovation
[116]
and upward mobility [...] we should be guided by what works." Speaking before the National Press Club in
April 2005, Obama defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, associating
[117]
Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security with Social Darwinism. In a May
2006 letter to President Bush, he joined four other Midwest farming state Senators in calling for the
[118]
preservation of a US$0.54 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol. Obama spoke out in June 2006 against
making recent, temporary estate tax cuts permanent, calling the cuts a "Paris Hilton" tax break for "billionaire
[119]
heirs and heiresses." Speaking in November 2006 to members of Wake Up Wal-Mart, a union-backed
campaign group, Obama said: "You gotta pay your workers enough that they can actually not only shop at
[120]
Wal-Mart, but ultimately send their kids to college and save for retirement." In January 2007, Obama
spoke at an event organized by Families USA, a health care advocacy group. Obama said, "The time has come
for universal health care in America [...] I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the
[121]
next president, we should have universal health care in this country."
He was an early opponent of Bush administration policies on Iraq. In the fall of 2002, during an anti-war rally
at Chicago's Federal Plaza, Obama said:

I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international
support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best,
impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed
to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight
with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down
of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves
[122]
more than color-coded warnings.

Obama in Des Moines, Iowa; July 2007

Addressing the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in November 2006, Obama called for a phased withdrawal of
[123]
troops and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Iraq's neighbors, Syria and Iran. In March 2007,
speaking before AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, he said that while the U.S. "should take no option, including
military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be
[124]
our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons." At the Save Darfur rally in April 2006,
[125]
he called for more assertive action to oppose genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Obama has divested
US$180,000 in personal holdings of Sudan-related stock, and he has urged divestment from companies doing
[126][127]
business in Iran.

Obama began podcasting from his U.S. Senate web site in late 2005. He has responded to and personally
[128]
participated in online discussions hosted on politically-oriented blog sites. In a June 2006 podcast, Obama
expressed support for telecommunications legislation to protect network neutrality on the Internet, saying: "It
is because the Internet is a neutral platform that I can put out this podcast and transmit it over the Internet
without having to go through any corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship or
without having to pay a special charge. But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the
[129]
Internet as we know it."

During his first year as a U.S. senator, in a move more typically taken after several years of holding high
political office, Obama established a leadership political action committee, Hopefund, for channeling financial
support to Democratic candidates. Obama participated in 38 fundraising events in 2005, helping to pull in US
[130]
$6.55 million for candidates he supports and his own 2010 re-election fund. The New
York Times described Obama as "the prize catch of the midterm campaign" because
of his campaigning for fellow Democratic Party members running for election in the 2006 midterm elections.
[131]
Hopefund gave US$374,000 to federal candidates in the 2006 election cycle, making it one of the top
[131]
donors to federal candidates for the year.

Obama has encouraged Democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other religious people, saying, "if we truly
hope to speak to people where they’re at—to communicate our hopes and values in a way that’s relevant to
[132][133]
their own—we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse." In December 2006, Obama joined
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church" organized by church leaders Kay
[134]
and Rick Warren. Together with Warren and Brownback, Obama took an HIV test, as he had done in
Kenya less than four months earlier. Obama encouraged "others in public life to do the same" to show "there
[135]
is no shame in going for an HIV test." Before the conference, 18 pro-life groups published an open letter
stating, in reference to Obama's support for legal abortion: "In the strongest possible terms, we oppose Rick
Warren's decision to ignore Senator Obama's clear pro-death stance and invite him to Saddleback Church
[136]
anyway."

[edit] Personal life

In 1988, while employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin, Obama met
[137]
Michelle Robinson, who also worked there. They were married in 1992 and have two daughters, Malia,
[138]
born in 1999, and Natasha ("Sasha"), born in 2001. The family moved from their Hyde Park, Chicago
[139]
condominium to a nearby US$1.6-million home in 2005. Obama plays basketball, a sport he participated in
[140]
as a member of his high school's varsity team. Before announcing his presidential candidacy, he began a
well-publicized effort to quit smoking. "I've never been a heavy smoker," Obama told the
Chicago Tribune . "I've quit periodically over the last several years. I've
got an ironclad demand from my wife that in the stresses of the campaign I don't succumb. I've been chewing
[141]
Nicorette strenuously." Replying to an Associated Press survey
of 2008 presidential candidates' personal tastes, he specified "architect" as his alternate career choice and
"chili" as his favorite meal to cook. Asked to name a "hidden talent," Obama answered: "I'm a pretty good
[142]
poker player."

A theme of Obama's keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and the title of his 2006
book, The Audacity of Hope , was inspired by his pastor,
[143]
Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In Chapter 6 of the book, titled "Faith," Obama writes that he "was not raised in a
religious household." He describes his mother, raised by non-religious parents, as detached from religion, yet
"in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known." He describes his Kenyan father
as "raised a Muslim," but a "confirmed atheist" by the time his parents met, and his Indonesian step-father as
"a man who saw religion as not particularly useful." The chapter details how Obama, in his twenties, while
working with local churches as a community organizer, came to understand "the power of the African
American religious tradition to spur social change." Obama writes: "It was because of these newfound
understandings—that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from
the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved—that I
[144]
was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized."

[edit] Books authored

The
Audacity
of Hope , with
"#1 New
York
Times Bestseller"
banner.

Obama has authored two bestselling books. The first, Dreams from My
Father: A Story of Race and
Inheritance , was published after his graduation from law school and before
entering politics. In it he recalls his childhood in Honolulu and Jakarta, college years in Los Angeles and New
York City, and his employment as a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s. The book's last chapters
describe his first visit to Kenya, a journey to connect with his Luo family and heritage. In his preface to the
2004 revised edition, Obama explains that he had hoped the story of his family "might speak in some way to
the fissures of race that have characterized the American experience, as well as the fluid state of identity—the
[145]
leaps through time, the collision of cultures—that mark our modern life." Time magazine's Joe
[146]
Klein wrote that the book "may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician." The
[147]
audio book edition earned Obama the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.

His second book, The Audacity of Hope:
Thoughts on Reclaiming the
American Dream , was published in October 2006, three weeks before the
2006 midterm election. It was an immediate bestseller and remains on the New York Times Best Seller List.
[148]
The Chicago Tribune credits the large crowds that gathered at
[149]
book signings with influencing Obama's decision to run for president. Former presidential candidate Gary
Hart describes the book as Obama's "thesis submission" for the U.S. presidency: "It presents a man of relative
youth yet maturity, a wise observer of the human condition, a figure who possesses perseverance and writing
[150]
skills that have flashes of grandeur." Reviewer Michael Tomasky writes that it does not contain "boldly
innovative policy prescriptions that will lead the Democrats out of their wilderness," but does show Obama's
potential to "construct a new politics that is progressive but grounded in civic traditions that speak to a wider
[151]
range of Americans." An Italian translation was published in April 2007 with a preface by Walter Veltroni,
[152] [153]
Mayor of Rome, and a Spanish paperback edition was published in June 2007.

[edit] Cultural and political image

Obama on the July 17, 2007
cover of Newsweek

Supporters and critics have likened Obama's popular image to a cultural Rorschach test, a neutral persona on
[154][155]
which people can project their personal histories and aspirations. Obama's own self-narrative
reinforces what a May 2004 New Yorker magazine article described as his
[156]
"everyman" image. In Dreams from My Father , he
ties his maternal family history to possible Native American ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis,
[157]
president of the southern Confederacy during the American Civil War. Speaking to an elderly Jewish
audience during his 2004 campaign for U.S. Senate, Obama linked the linguistic roots of his East African first
[158]
name Barack to the Hebrew word baruch , meaning "blessed." In an
October 2006 interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show ,
Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family: "Michelle will tell you that when we get together for
Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations," he said. "I've got relatives who look like
[159]
Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher. We've got it all."

Obama's rapid rise from Illinois state legislator to U.S. presidential candidate has attracted conflicting analyses
among commentators challenged to align him with traditional social categories. In her January 2007
Salon article asserting that Obama "isn't black," columnist Debra Dickerson writes: "lumping us
all together [with Obama] erases the significance of slavery and continuing racism while giving the appearance
[160]
of progress." Expressing a similar view, New York Daily
News columnist Stanley Crouch wrote: "When black Americans refer to Obama as 'one of us,' I do
[161]
not know what they are talking about." But in an October 2006 article titled "Obama: Black Like Me,"
[162]
British columnist Gary Younge describes Obama as "a black man who does not scare white people." Film
critic David Ehrenstein, writing in a March 2007 Los Angeles Times
article, compares the cultural sources of candidate Obama's favorable polling among whites to those of
"magical negro" roles played by black actors in Hollywood movies. Ehrenstein says these films are popular
[163]
because they offer U.S. audiences a comfort for "white guilt."

Writing about Obama's political image in a March 2007 Washington
Post opinion column, Eugene Robinson characterized him as "the personification of
both-and ," a messenger who rejects "either-or" political choices, and could "move the
[164]
nation beyond the culture wars" of the 1960s. Obama, who defines himself in The
[165]
Audacity of Hope as "a Democrat, after all," has been criticized
[166]
for his political actions by self-described progressive commentator David Sirota, and complimented for his
[167]
"Can't we all just get along?" manner by conservative columnist George Will. But in a December 2006
Wall Street Journal editorial headlined "The Man from
Nowhere," former Ronald Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan advised Will and other "establishment"
commentators to get "down from your tippy toes" and avoid becoming too quickly excited about Obama's still
early political career. Agreeing with Obama's own assessment that "people project their hopes on him,"
[168]
Noonan attributed some of Obama's popularity to "a certain unknowability."

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Tribune , December 24, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
Note: The house purchase and subsequent acquisition of an adjoining 10-foot-by-150-foot strip of land
attracted media scrutiny in November 2006 because of financial links with controversial Illinois
businessman Antoin Rezko. Slevin, Peter. "Obama Says He Regrets Land Deal With Fundraiser",
Washington Post , December 17, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-05-
13. See also: Clarke, Conor. "Show Trial: Barack Obama's Non-Scandal", New
Republic , Google cache, December 20, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-06-03. (in web
only)
140. ^ Kantor, Jodi. "One Place Where Obama Goes Elbow to Elbow", New York
Times , June 1, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-06-03. See also: Dan Morris, Neal Karlinsky. "The
'Rat-Ballers': Obama's High School Crew", Nightline , ABC News. Retrieved on
2007-05-13.
141. ^ Parsons, Christi. "Obama Launches an '07 Campaign--To Quit Smoking",
Chicago Tribune , February 6, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
142. ^ "Questions for the Candidates", Associated Press , WTOP
News, May 17, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-06-03.
143. ^ Kantor, Jodi. "A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith", New York
Times , April 30, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-16. See also: Obama (1995), pp. 292–295.
144. ^ Obama (2006), pp. 202-208. Portions excerpted in: Obama, Barack. "My Spiritual Journey",
TIME , October 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-05-16. See also: Powell, Barb. "Obama: America
Needs to Hear More-Moderate, More-Inclusive Religious Voices", United
Church News , August-September 2006. Retrieved on 2007-05-16. ; and
Guess, J. Bennett. "Barack Obama, Candidate for President, is 'UCC'", United
Church News , February 9, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-16.
145. ^ Obama (1995), p. vii.
146. ^ Klein, Joe. "The Fresh Face", Time , October 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-06-24. (cover
image)
147. ^ Boliek, Brooks. "Sen. Obama Finally Gets His Grammy", Reuters/
Hollywood Reporter , September 6, 2006. Retrieved on
2007-06-24.
148. ^ Bosman, Julie. "Obama’s New Book Is a Surprise Best Seller", New York
Times , November 9, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-06-24. Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction.
New York Times (June 24, 2007). Retrieved on 2007-06-24.
149. ^ Dorning, Mike, Christi Parsons. "Carefully Crafting the Obama 'Brand'", Chicago
Tribune , June 12, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-06-24.
150. ^ Hart, Gary. "American Idol", New York Times , December 24,
2006. Retrieved on 2007-06-24.
151. ^ Tomasky, Michael. "The Phenomenon", New York Review
of Books , Alexa cache, November 30, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-06-24.
152. ^ L’Audacia Della Speranza. Il Sogno Americano Per Un Mondo Nuovo.
Libreria Rizzoli . Retrieved on 2007-06-24.
153. ^ Lobb, Annelena. "Obama, en Español", Wall Street
Journal Online , June 19, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-06-24.
154. ^ Enda, Jodi. "Great Expectations", The American
Prospect , February 5, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. See also: Graff, Garrett
M.. "The Legend of Barack Obama", Washingtonian , November 1,
2006. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
155. ^ Podhoretz, John. "Obama: Rorschach Candidate", New York
Post , December 12, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
156. ^ Finnegan, William. "The Candidate: How the Son of a Kenyan Economist Became an Illinois
Everyman", New Yorker, 24 May 2004. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. See also: Tilove, Jonathan. "In
Obama Candidacy, America Examines Itself", Times-Picayune
(New Orleans) , February 8, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
157. ^ Obama (1995), p. 13. See also: Nitkin, David, Harry Merritt. "A New Twist to an Intriguing Family
History", Baltimore Sun . Retrieved on 2007-05-13. Jordan, Mary.
"Tiny Irish Village Is Latest Place to Claim Obama as Its Own",
Washington Post , May 13, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
158. ^ Kampeas, Ron. "Obama, Democrats’ Rising Star, Known for Harmony with Jews",
Jewish News Weekly of
Northern California , August 6, 2004. Retrieved on
2007-03-27.
159. ^ Keeping Hope Alive: Barack Obama Puts Family First. The Oprah
Winfrey Show (October 18, 2006). Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
160. ^ Dickerson, Debra J. "Colorblind", Salon , January 22, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
161. ^ Crouch continues: "Obama makes it clear that, while he has experienced some light versions of
typical racial stereotypes, he cannot claim those problems as his own — nor has he lived the life of a
black American." Crouch, Stanley. "What Obama Isn't: Black Like Me", New
York Daily News , Alexa (cached copy), November 2, 2006.
Retrieved on 2007-03-27. See also: Page, Clarence. "Is Barack Black Enough? Now That's a Silly
Question", Houston Chronicle , Alexa (cached copy),
February 25, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
162. ^ Younge, Gary. "Obama: Black Like Me", The Nation , posted October 27,
2006 (November 13, 2006 issue). Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
163. ^ Ehrenstein, David. "Obama the 'Magic Negro'", Los Angeles
Times , March 19, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
164. ^ Robinson, Eugene. "The Moment for This Messenger?", Washington
Post , March 13, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. See also: Senior, Jennifer. "Dreaming of
Obama", New York Magazine, October 2, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
165. ^ Obama (2006), p. 10. See also: Tomasky, Michael. "The Phenomenon", New
York Review of Books , November 30, 2006.
Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
166. ^ Sirota, David. "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington", The Nation , June 26,
2006. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
167. ^ Will, George F. "Run Now, Obama", Washington Post ,
December 14, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.
168. ^ Noonan, Peggy. "The Man From Nowhere", OpinionJournal
from The Wall Street
Journal Editorial Page , December 15,
2006. Retrieved on 2007-03-27.

[edit] Cited works

● Obama, Barack. Dreams from My Father:
A Story of Race and
Inheritance , Times Books, 1995. Reprint edition, 2004; ISBN 1-4000-8277-
3
● Obama, Barack.The Audacity of Hope:
Thoughts on Reclaiming the
American Dream , Crown, 2006. ISBN 0-307-23769-9.

[edit] Further reading

● Curry, Jessica. "Barack Obama: Under the Lights", Chicago Life , Fall
2004. Retrieved on 2007-05-13. (cover image)
● Klein, Joe. "The Fresh Face", Time, October 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-05-13. (cover image)
● Lizza, Ryan. "The Agitator: Barack Obama's Unlikely Political Education", New
Republic , March 19, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-13. (alternate site)
● MacFarquhar, Larissa. "The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?", New
Yorker , May 7, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
● Obama, Barack. "Renewing American Leadership", Foreign
Affairs , July-August 2007. Retrieved on 2007-06-03.
● Scharnberg, Kirsten, Kim Barker. "The Not-So-Simple Story of Barack Obama's Youth",
Chicago Tribune , March 25, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
● Wallace-Wells, Ben. "Destiny's Child", Rolling Stone , February 07,
2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
[edit] External links

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Official sites

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❍ BarackTV
❍ Facebook
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● U.S. Senate Office of Barack Obama
❍ Podcasts
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● Biography at the Biographical Directory
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❍ Obama, Barack—Incumbent; Office Sought: Senate
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Video interviews

● "Barack & Michelle On Future", 60 Minutes , CBS News, February 11, 2007.
Retrieved on 2007-04-08.
● "Obama Comments on Testing the Waters for a White House Run and Discusses his New Book",
Tavis Smiley Show , October 23, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-
04-08.
● "Obama Talks with Bob Herbert About His Book, The Audacity of Hope", ForaTV ,
October 20, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-04-08.
● "Oprah's Cut with Barack Obama", The Oprah Winfrey
Show , November 2004. Retrieved on 2007-04-08.
● "2002 Interview with Barack Obama; Host Jeff Berkowitz", TipVision , Brightcove.
com, November 25, 2002. Retrieved on 2007-04-08.

Topic pages and databases

● Times Topics: Obama, Barack, New York Times
● Barack Obama, Chicago Tribune
● Barack Obama On the Issues, OnTheIssues.org
● Senator Barack H. Obama (IL), Project Vote Smart
● Barack Obama: The Presidential Field Washington Post profile,
finance, events
● Barack Obama: Congress Votes Database, Washington Post
voting record
● Center for Public
Integrity (OpenSecrets.org)
campaign contributions
❍ Barack Obama presidential campaign
❍ Barack Obama 2001-2006 Senate campaign
● Barack Obama at the Open Directory Project

v•d•e Barack Obama [hide]
Family Michelle Obama
Dreams from My
Books authored Father · The
Audacity of Hope
Political positions of Barack Obama · Illinois United States Senate
Political activities
election, 2004 · Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008
Foreign Relations Committee · Veterans' Affairs · Health, Education,
US Senate committees
Labor, and Pensions · Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
United States Senate · 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries ·
Other
Democratic Party

Political offices
United States Senator (Class 3) from
Preceded by Illinois
Incumbent
Peter Fitzgerald 2005–Present
Served alongside: Richard Durbin

Illinois's current delegation to the United States Congress
Senators: Richard Durbin (D), Barack Obama (D)

Representative(s): Bobby Rush (D), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D), Dan Lipinski (D), Luis Gutiérrez (D),
Rahm Emanuel (D), Peter Roskam (R), Danny Davis (D), Melissa Bean (D), Jan Schakowsky (D),
Mark Kirk (R), Jerry Weller (R), Jerry Costello (D), Judy Biggert (R), Dennis Hastert (R), Tim Johnson (R),
Donald Manzullo (R), Phil Hare (D), Ray LaHood (R), John Shimkus (R)

All delegations: Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware •
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Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming — American Samoa •
District of Columbia • Guam • Puerto Rico • U.S. Virgin Islands

v•d•e Current United States Senators [hide]
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Sessions (R) (D) (D) (D)
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Murkowski (R) Harkin (D) (D) Whitehouse (D)
AZ: McCain (R), Kyl KS: Brownback (R), NV: Reid (D), Ensign SC: Graham (R), DeMint
(R) Roberts (R) (R) (R)
AR: Lincoln (D), Pryor KY: McConnell (R), NH: Gregg (R), Sununu SD: Johnson (D), Thune
(D) Bunning (R) (R) (R)
CA: Feinstein (D), NJ: Lautenberg (D), TN: Alexander (R),
LA: Landrieu (D),
Boxer (D) Menendez (D) Corker (R)
Vitter (R)
CO: Allard (R), NM: Domenici (R), TX: Hutchison (R),
ME: Snowe (R), Collins
Salazar (D) Bingaman (D) Cornyn (R)
(R)
CT: Dodd (D), MD: Mikulski (D), NY: Schumer (D), UT: Hatch (R), Bennett
Lieberman (ID) Cardin (D) Clinton (D) (R)
DE: Biden (D), Carper MA: Kennedy (D), NC: Dole (R), Burr (R) VT: Leahy (D), Sanders
(D) Kerry (D) ND: Conrad (D), (I)
FL: Nelson (D), Dorgan (D) VA: Warner (R), Webb
MI: Levin (D),
Martinez (R) Stabenow (D) OH: Voinovich (R), (D)
Brown (D) WA: Murray (D),
GA: Chambliss (R), MN: Coleman (R),
OK: Inhofe (R), Coburn Cantwell (D)
Isakson (R) Klobuchar (D)
(R) WV: Byrd (D),
HI: Inouye (D), MS: Cochran (R), Lott
OR: Wyden (D), Smith Rockefeller (D)
Akaka (D) (R)
(R) WI: Kohl (D), Feingold
ID: Craig (R), Crapo MO: Bond (R),
(D)
(R) McCaskill (D)
WY: Enzi (R), Barrasso
IL: Durbin (D),
(R)
Obama (D)

Republican • Democrat • Independent • Independent Democrat

v•d•e United States presidential election, 2008 [show]
Democratic Party: Democratic primaries • Republican Party: Republican primaries •
Democratic primary polls • Democratic Convention • Republican primary polls • Republican Convention •
Democratic Debates Republican Debates
Candidates: Biden (campaign) • Clinton (campaign, Candidates: Brownback • Gilmore • Giuliani
views) • Dodd • Edwards (campaign, views) • Gravel (campaign, views) • Huckabee • Hunter • McCain
(campaign, views) • Kucinich • Obama (campaign, (campaign, views) • Paul (campaign, views) •
views) • Richardson Romney (campaign, views) • Tancredo • Fred
Thompson (views) • Tommy Thompson
Potential candidates: Clark • Gore
Potential candidates: Gingrich • Hagel
Withdrawn candidates: Vilsack
Third party candidates: Amondson (Prb.) • E. Brown (Grn.) • Corsi (Con) • Dodge (Prb.) • Grundmann
(Con) • Imperato (Lib) • B. Jackson (Lib) • Kubby (Lib) • Malatesta (Con) • Mesplay (Grn.) • Milnes (Lib) •
Parker (IGVA) • Phillies (Lib) (Campaign) • Root (Lib) • Schriner • C Smith (Lib) • Swift (Grn.)
Notable potential independent candidates: Bloomberg • Nader • Savage
General articles: Opinion polling (Dem • Rep) • Election timeline • Fundraising
Other 2008 elections: House • Senate • Gubernatorial
Federal Election Commission: Campaign filings of 2008 Presidential hopefuls

Persondata
NAME Obama, Barack, Jr.
ALTERNATIVE NAMES
SHORT DESCRIPTION US Jr. Senator from Illinois
DATE OF BIRTH August 4, 1961
PLACE OF BIRTH Honolulu, Hawaii
DATE OF DEATH
PLACE OF DEATH

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama"

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War activists | American Congregationalists | American legal academics | American memoirists | Chicago
politicians | Columbia University alumni | Grammy Award winners | Harvard Law School alumni | Illinois
lawyers | Illinois State Senators | Kenyan-Americans | Living people | People from Honolulu | University of
Chicago faculty | United States Senators from Illinois

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