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Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Overview

Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current
Presidency of Barack Obama
The Presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST on January 20, 2009 when he became the 44th President of the United States. Obama was a United States Senator from Illinois at the time of his victory over Arizona Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election...

 President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

. He is the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 and Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review
Harvard Law Review
The Harvard Law Review is a journal of legal scholarship published by an independent student group at Harvard Law School.-Overview:According to the 2008 Journal Citation Reports, the Review is the most cited law review and has the second-highest impact factor in the category "law" after the...

.
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Encyclopedia

Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current
Presidency of Barack Obama
The Presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST on January 20, 2009 when he became the 44th President of the United States. Obama was a United States Senator from Illinois at the time of his victory over Arizona Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election...

 President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

. He is the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 and Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review
Harvard Law Review
The Harvard Law Review is a journal of legal scholarship published by an independent student group at Harvard Law School.-Overview:According to the 2008 Journal Citation Reports, the Review is the most cited law review and has the second-highest impact factor in the category "law" after the...

. He was a community organizer
Community organizing
Community organizing is a process where people who live in proximity to each other come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest. A core goal of community organizing is to generate durable power for an organization representing the community, allowing it to influence...

 in Chicago before earning his law degree
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law
Constitutional law
Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary....

 at the University of Chicago Law School
University of Chicago Law School
The University of Chicago Law School was founded in 1902 as the graduate school of law at the University of Chicago and is among the most prestigious and selective law schools in the world. The U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it fifth among U.S...

 from 1992 to 2004. He served three terms
Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama
The Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama began in with the 1997 swearing in of Barack Obama to his first term in the Illinois Senate and ended in 2004 with his election to the United States Senate...

 representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate
Illinois Senate
The Illinois Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly, the legislative branch of the government of the state of Illinois in the United States. The body was created by the first state constitution adopted in 1818. The Illinois Senate is made up of 59 senators elected from...

 from 1997 to 2004.

Following an unsuccessful bid against the Democratic incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 for a seat in the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 in 2000, Obama ran for the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 in 2004. Several events brought him to national attention during the campaign, including his victory in the March 2004 Illinois Democratic primary for the Senate election and his keynote address
2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address
The keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention was given by then Illinois State Senator, United States Senate candidate , and future President Barack Obama on the night of Tuesday, July 27, 2004...

 at the Democratic National Convention
2004 Democratic National Convention
The 2004 Democratic National Convention convened from July 26 to July 29, 2004 at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts, and nominated John Kerry and John Edwards as the official candidates of the Democratic Party for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively, in the 2004...

 in July 2004. He won election to the U.S. Senate in Illinois
United States Senate election in Illinois, 2004
The 2004 United States Senate election in Illinois was held on November 2, 2004. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald decided to retire after one term. The Democratic and Republican primary elections were held in March, which included a total of 15 candidates who combined to spend a...

 in November 2004. His presidential campaign began in February 2007, and after a close campaign
Barack Obama presidential primary campaign, 2008
On February 10, 2007, Barack Obama, then junior United States Senator from Illinois, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in Springfield, Illinois. On June 3, 2008, he secured enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2008...

 in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries
Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2008
The 2008 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 U.S. presidential election...

 against Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

, he won his party's nomination. In the 2008 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

, he defeated Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 nominee John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

, and was inaugurated as president
Inauguration of Barack Obama
The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States took place on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. The inauguration, which set a record attendance for any event held in Washington, D.C., marked the commencement of the four-year term of Barack Obama as President and Joe...

 on January 20, 2009. In October 2009, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize
2009 Nobel Peace Prize
The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people." The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the award on October 9, 2009, citing Obama's promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and...

 laureate
Laureate
In English, the word laureate has come to signify eminence or association with literary or military glory. It is also used for winners of the Nobel Prize.-History:...

.

As president, Obama signed economic stimulus legislation in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA and commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama.To...

 in 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act
Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 , was passed by the United States Congress on December 16, 2010 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 17, 2010....

 in 2010. Other domestic policy initiatives include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress...

, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act
Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010
The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 is a landmark federal statute that establishes a legal process for ending the Don't ask, don't tell policy , which since 1993 prevented openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the United States Armed Forces.The Act did not immediately repeal the...

 and the Budget Control Act of 2011
Budget Control Act of 2011
The Budget Control Act of 2011 was passed by the 112th United States Congress signed into law by President Barack Obama. It brought conclusion to the 2011 United States debt ceiling crisis, which had threatened to lead the United States into sovereign default on or about August 3, 2011.The law...

. In foreign policy, he gradually withdrew combat troops
Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq
The withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq has been a contentious issue within the United States since the beginning of the Iraq War. As the war has progressed from its initial 2003 invasion phase to a multi-year occupation, U.S. public opinion has turned in favor of troop withdrawal...

 from Iraq and announced that all troops would be home by the end of 2011, increased troop levels in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, signed the New START
New START
New START is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms...

 arms control treaty with Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, ordered enforcement of the UN-sanctioned no-fly zone
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

 over Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, and ordered the military operation that resulted in the death
Death of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, then head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time by a United States special forces military unit....

 of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

. In April 2011, Obama declared his intention to seek re-election
Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2012
On April 4, 2011, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, formally announced his re-election campaign for 2012. He is expected to be opposed by a candidate from the Republican Party and candidates from other parties, in an election scheduled for Tuesday, November 6, 2012.The campaign...

 in the 2012 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2012
The United States presidential election of 2012 is the next United States presidential election, to be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. It will be the 57th quadrennial presidential election in which presidential electors, who will actually elect the President and the Vice President of the United...

.

Early life and career



Obama was born on August 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital (now called Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children) in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is the first President to have been born in Hawaii. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham
Ann Dunham
Stanley Ann Dunham , the mother of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, was an American anthropologist who specialized in economic anthropology and rural development. Dunham was nicknamed Anna, later known as Dr. Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, and finally Ann Dunham Sutoro...

, was born in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

 and was of English and Irish descent. His father, Barack Obama, Sr.
Barack Obama, Sr.
Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a Kenyan senior governmental economist and the father of U.S. President Barack Obama. He is a central subject in his son's memoir, Dreams from My Father.-Early life:...

, was a Luo
Luo (Kenya and Tanzania)
The Luo are an ethnic group in Kenya, eastern Uganda, and northern Tanzania. They are part of a larger group of ethnolinguistically related Luo peoples who inhabit an area including southern Sudan, northern and eastern Uganda, western Kenya, and northern Tanzania.The Luo are the third largest...

 from Nyang'oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province
Nyanza Province
Nyanza Province of Kenya, is one of Kenya's eight administrative provinces. It is located in the southwest part of Kenya around Lake Victoria. Nyanza includes part of the eastern edge of Lake Victoria and is inhabited predominantly by the Luo. There are also Bantu-speaking tribes such as the...

, Kenya
Kenya Colony
The Colony and Protectorate of Kenya was part of the British Empire in Africa. It was established when the former East Africa Protectorate was transformed into a British crown colony in 1920...

. Obama's parents met in 1960 in a Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 class at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship. The couple married on February 2, 1961, separated when Obama Sr. went to Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 on scholarship, and divorced in 1964. Obama Sr. remarried and returned to Kenya, visiting Barack in Hawaii only once, in 1971. He died in an automobile accident in 1982.

After her divorce, Dunham married Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

n student Lolo Soetoro
Lolo Soetoro
Lolo Soetoro, also known as Lolo Soetoro Mangunharjo or Mangundikardjo, was the Indonesian stepfather of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America.-Early life and education:...

, who was attending college in Hawaii. When Suharto, a military leader in Soetoro's home country, came to power in 1967, all Indonesian students studying abroad were recalled, and the family moved to the Menteng
Menteng
Menteng is a subdistrict of Central Jakarta, one of the administrative city which forms the special capital territory of Jakarta, Indonesia.The subdistrict is best known as the location of the Menteng residential area, a new urban design developed in the 1910s to become a residential area for Dutch...

 neighborhood of Jakarta
Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

. From ages six to ten, Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, including Besuki Public School and St. Francis of Assisi School. Because of his childhood background, today Obama is quite popular in Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

.

In 1971, Obama returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn
Madelyn Dunham
Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham was the American maternal grandmother of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States of America...

 and Stanley Armour Dunham
Stanley Armour Dunham
Stanley Armour Dunham was the maternal grandfather of U.S. President Barack Obama. He and his wife Madelyn Payne Dunham raised Obama from the age of 10 in Honolulu, Hawaii.-Early life:...

, and with the aid of a scholarship he attended Punahou School
Punahou School
Punahou School, once known as Oahu College, is a private, co-educational, college preparatory school located in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu in the U.S. State of Hawaii...

, a private college preparatory school
University-preparatory school
A university-preparatory school or college-preparatory school is a secondary school, usually private, designed to prepare students for a college or university education...

, from the fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979. Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972, remaining there until 1977 when she went back to Indonesia to work as an anthropological
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 field worker. She finally returned to Hawaii in 1994 and lived there for one year, before dying of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is a cancerous growth arising from the ovary. Symptoms are frequently very subtle early on and may include: bloating, pelvic pain, difficulty eating and frequent urination, and are easily confused with other illnesses....

.

Of his early childhood, Obama recalled, "That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind." He described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial
Multiracial
The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with...

 heritage. Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: "The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear." Obama has also written and talked about using alcohol, marijuana
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

 and cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my mind." At the 2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency
Civil Forum on the Presidency
The Civil Forum on the Presidency was the venue of back-to-back interviews of U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama by pastor Rick Warren on August 16, 2008, at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.-Format of the Forum:...

, Obama identified his high-school drug use as a great moral failure.

Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 in 1979 to attend Occidental College
Occidental College
Occidental College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1887, Occidental College, or "Oxy" as it is called by students and alumni, is one of the oldest liberal arts colleges on the West Coast...

. In February 1981, he made his first public speech, calling for Occidental's disinvestment from South Africa
Disinvestment from South Africa
Disinvestment from South Africa was first advocated in the 1960s, in protest of South Africa's system of Apartheid, but was not implemented on a significant scale until the mid 1980s...

 due to its policy of apartheid. In mid-1981, Obama traveled to Indonesia to visit his mother and sister Maya, and visited the families of college friends in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 for three weeks.

Later in 1981, he transferred to Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, where he majored in political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 with a specialty in international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in 1983. He worked for a year at the Business International Corporation
Business International Corporation
Business International Corporation was a publishing and advisory firm dedicated to assisting American companies in operating abroad. In 1986, Business International was acquired by The Economist Group in London, and eventually merged with The Economist Intelligence Unit...

, then at the New York Public Interest Research Group
New York Public Interest Research Group
The New York Public Interest Research Group is a New York State-wide non-partisan political organization. It has existed since 1973. Its current executive director is Rebecca Weber and its founding director was Donald K. Ross. Blair Horner was its Legislative Director for many years.NYPIRG is...

.

Chicago community organizer and Harvard Law School


Two years after graduating, Obama was hired in Chicago as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland
Roseland, Chicago
Roseland, located on the far south side of the city, is one of the 77 official community areas of Chicago, Illinois. It includes the neighborhoods of Fernwood, Princeton Park, Lilydale, West Chesterfield, Rosemoor, Sheldon Heights and West Roseland...

, West Pullman
West Pullman, Chicago
West Pullman is a neighborhood located on the far south side of the city of Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the 77 official community areas of Chicago...

 and Riverdale
Riverdale, Chicago
Riverdale, one of the 77 official community areas of Chicago, Illinois, is locatedon the city's far south side.The town of Riverdale is at the far south end of Chicago extending beyond the Chicago boundary of 138th Street to 144th Street. The town hall is at 157 West 144th Street...

) on Chicago's far South Side. He worked there as a community organizer from June 1985 to May 1988. During his three years as the DCP's director, its staff grew from one to thirteen. He helped set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization in Altgeld Gardens
Altgeld Gardens, Chicago
Altgeld Gardens is a housing project located in the Riverdale Community Area of Chicago, Illinois, USA. The residents are 97% African American according to the 2000 US Census. Built in 1945 with 1,498 units, the development consists primarily of two-story row houses spread over...

. Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation
Gamaliel Foundation
Gamaliel Foundation provides training and consultation and develops national strategy for its affiliated congregation-based community organizations. As of 2008, Gamaliel has 60 affiliates in 21 U.S...

, a community organizing institute. In mid-1988, he traveled for the first time in Europe for three weeks and then for five weeks in Kenya, where he met many of his paternal relatives for the first time. He returned in August 2006 for a visit to his father's birthplace, a village near Kisumu
Kisumu
Kisumu is a port city in western Kenya at , with a population of 355,024 . It is the third largest city in Kenya, the principal city of western Kenya, the immediate former capital of Nyanza Province and the headquarters of Kisumu County. It has a municipal charter but no city charter...

 in rural western Kenya.

In late 1988, Obama entered Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

. He was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review
Harvard Law Review
The Harvard Law Review is a journal of legal scholarship published by an independent student group at Harvard Law School.-Overview:According to the 2008 Journal Citation Reports, the Review is the most cited law review and has the second-highest impact factor in the category "law" after the...

at the end of his first year, and president of the journal in his second year. During his summers, he returned to Chicago, where he worked as an associate
Associate attorney
An associate attorney is a lower-level employee of a traditional law firm who does not hold an ownership interest as a partner.-Attorneys:An associate may be a junior or senior associate, but normally does not yet hold an ownership interest in the firm even if they have been associated with the...

 at the law firms of Sidley Austin
Sidley Austin
Sidley Austin LLP, formerly known as Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, is one of the oldest law firms in the world. It is the sixth-largest U.S.-based corporate law firm with more than 1,650 lawyers, annual revenues of more than one billion dollars, and offices in 17 cities worldwide, with the most...

 in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter
Hopkins & Sutter
Hopkins & Sutter was a Chicago-based law firm that practiced from 1921 to 2000, when it merged with Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner. The firm was established by Albert Hopkins and Harry Sutter...

 in 1990. After graduating with a J.D.
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago. Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review gained national media attention and led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations, which evolved into a personal memoir. The manuscript was published in mid-1995 as Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by United States President Barack Obama. It was first published in July 1995 as he was preparing to launch his political career, five years after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in...

.

University of Chicago Law School and civil rights attorney


In 1991, Obama accepted a two-year position as Visiting Law and Government Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School
University of Chicago Law School
The University of Chicago Law School was founded in 1902 as the graduate school of law at the University of Chicago and is among the most prestigious and selective law schools in the world. The U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it fifth among U.S...

 to work on his first book. He then served as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years—as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004—teaching constitutional law
Constitutional law
Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary....

.

From April to October 1992, Obama directed Illinois's Project Vote
Project Vote
Project Vote is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit 501 organization that works with marginalized and under-represented voters. Its current executive director is Michael Slater, who has worked for Project Vote since 2004...

, a voter registration drive with ten staffers and seven hundred volunteer registrars; it achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, and led to Crain's Chicago Business naming Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be. In 1993 he joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 13-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel
Of counsel
Of counsel is often the title of an attorney who is employed by a law firm or an organization, but is not an associate or a partner. Some firms use titles like "counsel," "special counsel," and "senior counsel" for the same concept...

 from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002.

From 1994 to 2002, Obama served on the boards of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago
Woods Fund of Chicago
The Woods Fund of Chicago is a private independent foundation in Chicago, whose goal is to increase opportunities for less-advantaged people and communities in the Chicago metropolitan area, including the opportunity to shape decisions affecting them....

, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund the Developing Communities Project; and of the Joyce Foundation
Joyce Foundation
The Joyce Foundation is a charitable foundation based in Chicago in the United States and operating principally in the Great Lakes region.The Foundation primarily funds organizations in the Great Lakes region .-Programs:* Education: Focuses on public schools in Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee;...

. He served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge
Chicago Annenberg Challenge
The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was a Chicago public school reform project from 1995 to 2001 that worked with half of Chicago's public schools and was funded by a $49.2 million, 2-to-1 matching challenge grant over five years from the Annenberg Foundation. The grant was contingent on being matched...

 from 1995 to 2002, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995 to 1999.

State Senator: 1997–2004


Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate
Illinois Senate
The Illinois Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly, the legislative branch of the government of the state of Illinois in the United States. The body was created by the first state constitution adopted in 1818. The Illinois Senate is made up of 59 senators elected from...

 in 1996, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from Illinois's 13th District, which at that time spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park
Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, United States and seven miles south of the Chicago Loop, is a Chicago neighborhood and one of 77 Chicago community areas. It is home to the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Museum of Science...

 – Kenwood
Kenwood, Chicago
Kenwood, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, Illinois, is one of the 77 well-defined Chicago community areas.Kenwood was part of Hyde Park Township, which was annexed by the City of Chicago in 1889....

 south to South Shore
South Shore, Chicago
South Shore is one of 77 well-defined community areas of the City of Chicago, Illinois in the United States. A predominately black neighborhood located along Chicago's southern lakefront, it is a relatively stable and gentrifying neighborhood...

 and west to Chicago Lawn
Chicago Lawn, Chicago
Chicago Lawn is one of the 77 community areas of Chicago, Illinois. It is located on the southwest side of the city. Its community neighbors include Gage Park, West Englewood, Ashburn, and West Lawn. It is bounded by Bell Avenue on the east, Central Park Avenue on the west, 59th Street on the...

. Once elected, Obama gained bipartisan support for legislation reforming ethics and health care laws. He sponsored a law increasing tax credit
Tax credit
A tax credit is a sum deducted from the total amount a taxpayer owes to the state. A tax credit may be granted for various types of taxes, such as an income tax, property tax, or VAT. It may be granted in recognition of taxes already paid, as a subsidy, or to encourage investment or other behaviors...

s for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare. In 2001, as co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Obama supported Republican Governor Ryan's payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending regulations aimed at averting home foreclosures.

Obama was reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998, defeating Republican Yesse Yehudah in the general election, and was reelected again in 2002. In 2000, he lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives
Illinois's 1st congressional district election, 2000
The 2000 United States House of Representatives election for the 1st district in Illinois took place on November 7, 2000. While incumbent Democratic Representative Bobby Rush handily defeated his Republican opponent, Raymond Wardingley, this race is noteworthy for the primary challenge Rush...

 to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush
Bobby Rush
Bobby Lee Rush is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party.The district is located principally on the South Side of Chicago. It is a minority-majority district and has a higher percentage of African Americans than any other congressional district in...

 by a margin of two to one.

In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee when Democrats, after a decade in the minority, regained a majority. He sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling
Racial profiling
Racial profiling refers to the use of an individual’s race or ethnicity by law enforcement personnel as a key factor in deciding whether to engage in enforcement...

 by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained, and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations. During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, police representatives credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty
Capital punishment in the United States
Capital punishment in the United States, in practice, applies only for aggravated murder and more rarely for felony murder. Capital punishment was a penalty at common law, for many felonies, and was enforced in all of the American colonies prior to the Declaration of Independence...

 reforms. Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Senate campaign


In May 2002, Obama commissioned a poll to assess his prospects in a 2004 U.S. Senate race; he created a campaign committee, began raising funds and lined up political media consultant David Axelrod
David Axelrod
David Axelrod may refer to:* David Axelrod * David Axelrod , Senior Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama* David B. Axelrod , poet and educator...

 by August 2002, and formally announced his candidacy in January 2003.

Obama was an early opponent of the George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. On October 2, 2002, the day President Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution
Iraq Resolution
The Iraq Resolution or the Iraq War Resolution is a joint resolution passed by the United States Congress in October 2002 as Public Law No: 107-243, authorizing military action against Iraq.-Contents:The resolution cited many factors to justify the use of military force against...

 authorizing the Iraq War, Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally
Protests against the Iraq War
Beginning in 2002, and continuing after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, protests against the Iraq War were held in many cities worldwide, often coordinated to occur simultaneously around the world...

, and spoke out against the war. He addressed another anti-war rally in March 2003 and told the crowd that "it's not too late" to stop the war.

Decisions by Republican incumbent Peter Fitzgerald and his Democratic predecessor Carol Moseley Braun
Carol Moseley Braun
Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun is an American feminist politician and lawyer who represented Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999. She was the first and to date only African-American woman elected to the United States Senate, the first woman to defeat an incumbent senator in an...

 to not participate in the election resulted in wide-open Democratic and Republican primary contests involving fifteen candidates. In the March 2004 primary election, Obama won in an unexpected landslide—which overnight made him a rising star within the national Democratic Party, started speculation about a presidential future, and led to the reissue of his memoir, Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by United States President Barack Obama. It was first published in July 1995 as he was preparing to launch his political career, five years after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in...

.

In July 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention
2004 Democratic National Convention
The 2004 Democratic National Convention convened from July 26 to July 29, 2004 at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts, and nominated John Kerry and John Edwards as the official candidates of the Democratic Party for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively, in the 2004...

 in Boston, Massachusetts, and it was seen by 9.1 million viewers. His speech was well received and elevated his status within the Democratic Party.

Obama's expected opponent in the general election, Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race in June 2004. Six weeks later, Alan Keyes
Alan Keyes
Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

 accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan. In the November 2004 general election, Obama won with 70% of the vote.

U.S. Senator: 2005–2008



Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 3, 2005, becoming the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus
Congressional Black Caucus
The Congressional Black Caucus is an organization representing the black members of the United States Congress. Membership is exclusive to blacks, and its chair in the 112th Congress is Representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri.-Aims:...

. CQ Weekly
Congressional Quarterly
Congressional Quarterly, Inc., or CQ, is a privately owned publishing company that produces a number of publications reporting primarily on the United States Congress...

characterized him as a "loyal Democrat" based on analysis of all Senate votes in 2005–2007. Obama announced on November 13, 2008, that he would resign his Senate seat on November 16, 2008, before the start of the lame-duck
Lame duck (politics)
A lame duck is an elected official who is approaching the end of his or her tenure, and especially an official whose successor has already been elected.-Description:The status can be due to*having lost a re-election bid...

 session, to focus on his transition period for the presidency.

Legislation


Obama cosponsored the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act
Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act
Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act was an immigration reform bill introduced in the United States Senate on May 12, 2005 by Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy...

. He introduced two initiatives bearing his name: Lugar–Obama, which expanded the Nunn–Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons; and the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006
Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006
The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 is an Act of Congress that requires the full disclosure to the public of all entities or organizations receiving federal funds beginning in fiscal year 2007. The website opened in December 2007 as a result of the act, and is...

, which authorized the establishment of USAspending.gov, a web search engine on federal spending. On June 3, 2008, Senator Obama—along with Senators Tom Carper, Tom Coburn
Tom Coburn
Thomas Allen "Tom" Coburn, M.D. , is an American politician, medical doctor, and Southern Baptist deacon. A member of the Republican Party, he currently serves as the junior U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. In the Senate, he is known as "Dr. No" for his tendency to place holds on and vote against bills...

, and John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

—introduced follow-up legislation: Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008.

Obama sponsored legislation that would have required nuclear plant owners to notify state and local authorities of radioactive leaks, but the bill failed to pass in the full Senate after being heavily modified in committee. Regarding tort reform
Tort reform
Tort reform refers to proposed changes in common law civil justice systems that would reduce tort litigation or damages. Tort actions are civil common law claims first created in the English commonwealth system as a non-legislative means for compensating wrongs and harm done by one party to...

, Obama voted for the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
The U.S. Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. Sections 1332, 1453, and 1711–1715, expanded federal jurisdiction over many large class-action lawsuits and mass actions taken in the United States....

 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which grants immunity from civil liability to telecommunications companies complicit with NSA warrantless wiretapping
NSA warrantless surveillance controversy
The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy concerns surveillance of persons within the United States during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency as part of the war on terror...

 operations.
In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor. In January 2007, Obama and Senator Feingold introduced a corporate jet provision to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act
Honest Leadership and Open Government Act
The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 is a law of the United States federal government that amended parts of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995...

, which was signed into law in September 2007. Obama also introduced Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act
Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act
The Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2007 was a bill introduced in the 110th Congress on January 31, 2007, by Sen. Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois and Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York...

, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections, and the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007
Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007
On January 30, 2007, then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007 . The plan would have stopped the 2007 U.S. Troop Surge of 21,500 in Iraq, and would also have begun a phased redeployment of troops from Iraq with the goal of removing all combat forces by March...

, neither of which has been signed into law.

Later in 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality-disorder military discharges. This amendment passed the full Senate in the spring of 2008. He sponsored the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act
Disinvestment from Iran
Disinvestment from Iran is campaign primarily in the US that aims to encourage disinvestment from the state of Iran.-Federal:The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act was introduced in US Congress by Reps. Barney Frank and Mark Kirk . It passed 414-6...

 supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry, which has not passed committee; and co-sponsored legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism. Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program
State Children's Health Insurance Program
The State Children's Health Insurance Program – later known more simply as the Children's Health Insurance Program – is a program administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children...

, providing one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.

Committees


Obama held assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is a standing committee of the United States Senate. It is charged with leading foreign-policy legislation and debate in the Senate. The Foreign Relations Committee is generally responsible for overseeing and funding foreign aid programs as...

, Environment and Public Works
United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
The United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is responsible for dealing with matters related to the environment and infrastructure.-Members, 112th Congress:...

 and Veterans' Affairs
United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
The United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs deals with oversight of United States veterans issues.-Members, 112th Congress:The Committee is chaired by Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, and the Ranking Member is Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina.Source: -Chairmen of the Senate...

 through December 2006. In January 2007, he left the Environment and Public Works committee and took additional assignments with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
The United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions generally considers matters relating to health, education, labor, and pensions...

 and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
The United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has jurisdiction over matters related to the Department of Homeland Security and other homeland security concerns, as well as the functioning of the government itself, including the National Archives, budget and...

. He also became Chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on European Affairs
United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs
The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs is one of seven subcommittees of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.-Jurisdiction:...

. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. He met with Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

 before Abbas became President
President of the Palestinian National Authority
The President of the Palestinian National Authority is the highest-ranking political position in the Palestinian National Authority ....

 of the Palestinian Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

, and gave a speech at the University of Nairobi
University of Nairobi
The University of Nairobi is the largest university in Kenya. Although its history as an educational institution goes back to 1956, it did not become an independent university until 1970 when the University of East Africa was split into three independent universities: Makerere University in...

 condemning corruption within the Kenyan government.

2008 presidential campaign




On February 10, 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

, Illinois. The choice of the announcement site was viewed as symbolic because it was also where Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 delivered his historic "House Divided"
Lincoln's House Divided Speech
The House Divided Speech was an address given by Abraham Lincoln on June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, upon accepting the Illinois Republican Party's nomination as that state's United States senator. The speech became the launching point for his unsuccessful campaign for the Senate seat...

 speech in 1858. Obama emphasized the issues of rapidly ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence
Energy policy of the United States
The energy policy of the United States is determined by federal, state and local public entities in the United States, which address issues of energy production, distribution, and consumption, such as building codes and gas mileage standards...

, and providing universal health care, in a campaign that projected themes of "hope" and "change".

A large number of candidates entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries
Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2008
The 2008 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 U.S. presidential election...

. The field narrowed to a duel between Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 after early contests, with the race remaining close throughout the primary process but with Obama gaining a steady lead in pledged delegate
Delegate
A delegate is a person who speaks or acts on behalf of an organization at a meeting or conference between organizations of the same level A delegate is a person who speaks or acts on behalf of an organization (e.g., a government, a charity, an NGO, or a trade union) at a meeting or conference...

s due to better long-range planning, superior fundraising, dominant organizing in caucus
Caucus
A caucus is a meeting of supporters or members of a political party or movement, especially in the United States and Canada. As the use of the term has been expanded the exact definition has come to vary among political cultures.-Origin of the term:...

 states, and better exploitation of delegate allocation rules. On June 7, 2008, Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama.

On August 23, Obama announced his selection of Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

 Senator Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

 as his vice presidential running mate. Biden was selected from a field speculated to include former Indiana Governor and Senator Evan Bayh
Evan Bayh
Birch Evans "Evan" Bayh III is a lawyer, advisor and former Democratic politician who served as the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1999 to 2011. He earlier served as the 46th Governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997. Bayh is a current Fox News contributor as of March 14, 2011.Bayh first held...

 and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine
Tim Kaine
Timothy Michael "Tim" Kaine is a Virginia politician. Kaine served as the 70th Governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, and was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2009 to 2011...

. At the Democratic National Convention
2008 Democratic National Convention
The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. The convention was held in Denver,...

 in Denver, Colorado, Hillary Clinton called for her delegates and supporters to endorse Obama, and she and Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 gave convention speeches in support of Obama. Obama delivered his acceptance speech, not at the convention center where the Democratic National Convention was held, but at Invesco Field at Mile High
INVESCO Field at Mile High
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, previously known as Invesco Field at Mile High, and commonly known as Mile High, is a multi-purpose stadium, in Denver, Colorado. It replaced the identically sized, but commercially obsolete Mile High Stadium in 2001...

 to a crowd of over 75,000 and presented his policy goals; the speech was viewed by over 38 million people worldwide.
During both the primary process and the general election, Obama's campaign set numerous fundraising records, particularly in the quantity of small donations. On June 19, 2008, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976.

McCain was nominated as the Republican candidate and the two engaged in three presidential debates
United States presidential election debates
During presidential elections in the United States, it has become customary for the main candidates to engage in a debate...

 in September and October 2008. On November 4, Obama won the presidency with 365 electoral votes to 173 received by McCain. Obama won 52.9% of the popular vote
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

 to McCain's 45.7%. He became the first African American to be elected president. Obama delivered his victory speech
Barack Obama election victory speech, 2008
Following his victory in the United States presidential election, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave his victory speech at Grant Park in his home city of Chicago, Illinois, on November 5, 2008, before an estimated crowd of 240,000...

 before hundreds of thousands of supporters in Chicago's Grant Park
Grant Park (Chicago)
Grant Park, with between the downtown Chicago Loop and Lake Michigan, offers many different attractions in its large open space. The park is generally flat. It is also crossed by large boulevards and even a bed of sunken railroad tracks...

.

2012 presidential campaign



On April 4, 2011, Obama announced his re-election campaign for 2012 in a video titled "It Begins with Us" that he posted on his website and filed election papers with the Federal Election Commission
Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency that was founded in 1975 by the United States Congress to regulate the campaign finance legislation in the United States. It was created in a provision of the 1975 amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act...

.

Presidency


First days



The inauguration of Barack Obama
Inauguration of Barack Obama
The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States took place on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. The inauguration, which set a record attendance for any event held in Washington, D.C., marked the commencement of the four-year term of Barack Obama as President and Joe...

 as the 44th President, and Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

 as Vice President, took place on January 20, 2009. In his first few days in office Obama issued executive orders and presidential memoranda directing the U.S. military to develop plans to withdraw troops from Iraq. He ordered the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp "as soon as practicable and no later than" January 2010, but during his first two years in office he has been unable to persuade Congress to appropriate funds required to accomplish the shutdown. Obama reduced the secrecy given to presidential records and changed procedures to promote disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act (United States)
The Freedom of Information Act is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure...

. He also reversed George W. Bush's ban on federal funding to foreign establishments that allow abortions
Mexico City Policy
The Mexico City Policy, also known by critics as the Mexico City Gag Rule and the Global Gag Rule, was an intermittent United States government policy that required all non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services, as a...

.

Domestic policy



The first bill signed into law by Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, relaxing the statute of limitations
Statute of limitations
A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated...

 for equal-pay lawsuits. Five days later, he signed the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program
State Children's Health Insurance Program
The State Children's Health Insurance Program – later known more simply as the Children's Health Insurance Program – is a program administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children...

 (SCHIP) to cover an additional 4 million children currently uninsured.

In March 2009, Obama reversed a Bush-era policy which had limited funding of embryonic stem cell
Embryonic stem cell
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst, an early-stage embryo. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4–5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50–150 cells...

 research. Obama stated that he believed "sound science and moral values ... are not inconsistent" and pledged to develop "strict guidelines" on the research.

Obama appointed two women to serve on the Supreme Court in the first two years of his Presidency. Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Maria Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving since August 2009. Sotomayor is the Court's 111th justice, its first Hispanic justice, and its third female justice....

, nominated by Obama on May 26, 2009, to replace retiring Associate Justice David Souter
David Souter
David Hackett Souter is a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He served from 1990 until his retirement on June 29, 2009. Appointed by President George H. W. Bush to fill the seat vacated by William J...

, was confirmed on August 6, 2009, becoming the first Hispanic
Hispanic
Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

 to be a Supreme Court Justice. Elena Kagan
Elena Kagan
Elena Kagan is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving since August 7, 2010. Kagan is the Court's 112th justice and fourth female justice....

, nominated by Obama on May 10, 2010, to replace retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens
John Paul Stevens
John Paul Stevens served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from December 19, 1975 until his retirement on June 29, 2010. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest member of the Court and the third-longest serving justice in the Court's history...

, was confirmed on August 5, 2010, bringing the number of women sitting simultaneously on the Court to three, for the first time in American history.
On September 30, 2009, the Obama administration proposed new regulations on power plants, factories and oil refineries in an attempt to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to curb global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

.

On October 8, 2009, Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a measure that expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

, sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

, gender identity
Gender identity
A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. Basic gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to...

, or disability
Disability
A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped...

.

On March 30, 2010, Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act
Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 is a law that was enacted by the 111th United States Congress, by means of the reconciliation process, in order to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act...

, a reconciliation bill
Reconciliation (United States Congress)
Reconciliation is a legislative process of the United States Senate intended to allow consideration of a budget bill with debate limited to twenty hours under Senate Rules...

 which ends the process of the federal government giving subsidies to private banks to give out federally insured loans, increases the Pell Grant
Pell Grant
A Pell Grant is money the federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, who have not earned their first bachelor's degree or who are not enrolled in certain post-baccalaureate programs, through participating...

 scholarship award, and makes changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress...

.

In a major space policy speech
Barack Obama space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center
The space policy of the Barack Obama administration was announced by U.S. President Barack Obama on April 15, 2010, at a major space policy speech at Kennedy Space Center. He committed to increasing NASA funding by $6 billion over five years and completing the design of a new heavy-lift launch...

 in April 2010, Obama announced a planned change in direction at NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

, the U.S. space agency. He ended plans for a return of human spaceflight
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 to the moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 and ended development of the Ares I
Ares I
Ares I was the crew launch vehicle that was being developed by NASA as part of the Constellation Program. The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars...

 rocket, Ares V
Ares V
The Ares V was the planned cargo launch component of the Constellation program, which was to have replaced the Space Shuttle after its retirement in 2011. Ares V was also planned to carry supplies for a human presence on Mars...

 rocket and Constellation program. He is focusing funding (which is expected to rise modestly) on Earth science projects and a new rocket type, as well as research and development for an eventual manned mission to Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

. Missions to the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 are expected to continue until 2020.

On December 22, 2010, Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010
Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010
The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 is a landmark federal statute that establishes a legal process for ending the Don't ask, don't tell policy , which since 1993 prevented openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the United States Armed Forces.The Act did not immediately repeal the...

, a bill that provides for repeal of the Don't ask, don't tell
Don't ask, don't tell
"Don't ask, don't tell" was the official United States policy on homosexuals serving in the military from December 21, 1993 to September 20, 2011. The policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while...

 policy of 1993 that has prevented gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the United States Armed Forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

. Repealing "Don't ask, don't tell" had been a key campaign promise that Obama had made during the 2008 presidential campaign
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

.

On January 25, 2011, in his 2011 State of the Union Address
2011 State of the Union Address
The 2011 State of the Union Address was a speech given by President Barack Obama at 9 p.m. EST on January 25, 2011, in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives...

, President Obama focused strongly on the themes of education and innovation, stressing the importance of innovation economics
Innovation Economics
Innovation economics or economics of innovation is a growing economic doctrine that reformulates conventional economics theory so that knowledge, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation are positioned at the center of the model rather than seen as independent forces that are largely unaffected...

 in working to make the United States more competitive globally. Among other plans and goals, Obama spoke of a enacting a five-year freeze in domestic spending, eliminating tax breaks for oil companies and tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, banning congressional earmark
Earmark (politics)
In United States politics, an earmark is a legislative provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects, or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees...

s, and reducing healthcare costs. Looking to the future, Obama promised that by 2015, the United States would have 1 million electric vehicles on the road and by 2035, clean-energy sources would be providing 80 percent of U.S. electricity.

Economic policy


On February 17, 2009, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA and commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama.To...

, a $787 billion economic stimulus package
Stimulus (economic)
In economics, stimulus refers to attempts to use monetary or fiscal policy to stimulate the economy. Recently "stimulus" has become particularly associated with Keynesian economics and the theory that government spending projects can generate economic growth in a recession...

 aimed at helping the economy recover from the deepening worldwide recession. The act includes increased federal spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax breaks and incentives
Tax incentive
A tax incentive is an aspect of the tax code designed to incentivize, or encourage, a certain type of behavior. This may be accomplished through means including tax holidays, tax deductions, or tax abatements...

, and direct assistance to individuals, which is being distributed over the course of several years.

In March, Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, took further steps to manage the financial crisis
Late-2000s financial crisis
The late-2000s financial crisis is considered by many economists to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s...

, including introducing the Public-Private Investment Program for Legacy Assets
Public-Private Investment Program for Legacy Assets
On March 23, 2009, the United States Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation , the Federal Reserve, and the United States Treasury Department announced the Public-Private Investment Program for Legacy Assets. The program is designed to provide liquidity for so-called "toxic assets" on the balance...

, which contains provisions for buying up to $2 trillion in depreciated real estate assets.
Obama intervened in the troubled automotive industry in March 2009, renewing loans for General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 and Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 to continue operations while reorganizing. Over the following months the White House set terms for both firms' bankruptcies, including the sale of Chrysler
Chrysler Chapter 11 reorganization
Chrysler LLC and twenty-four of its affiliated subsidiaries filed a consolidated petition for bankruptcy on April 30, 2009, with the federal bankruptcy court in New York...

 to Italian automaker Fiat
Fiat
FIAT, an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino , is an Italian automobile manufacturer, engine manufacturer, financial, and industrial group based in Turin in the Italian region of Piedmont. Fiat was founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli...

 and a reorganization of GM
General Motors Chapter 11 reorganization
The General Motors Chapter 11 sale of the assets of automobile manufacturer General Motors and some of its subsidiaries was implemented through section 363 of Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York...

 giving the U.S. government a temporary 60% equity stake in the company, with the Canadian government shouldering a 12% stake. In June 2009, dissatisfied with the pace of economic stimulus, Obama called on his cabinet to accelerate the investment. He signed into law the Car Allowance Rebate System
Car Allowance Rebate System
The Car Allowance Rebate System , colloquially known as "Cash for Clunkers", was a $3 billion U.S. federal scrappage program intended to provide economic incentives to U.S. residents to purchase a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle when trading in a less fuel-efficient vehicle...

, known colloquially as "Cash for Clunkers", that temporarily boosted the economy.

Although spending and loan guarantees from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department authorized by the Bush and Obama administrations totaled about $11.5 trillion, only $3 trillion had actually been spent by the end of November 2009. However, Obama and the Congressional Budget Office
Congressional Budget Office
The Congressional Budget Office is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government that provides economic data to Congress....

 predict that the 2010 budget deficit
2010 United States federal budget
The United States Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2010, titled A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise, is a spending request by President Barack Obama to fund government operations for October 2009–September 2010...

 will be $1.5 trillion or 10.6% of the nation's gross domestic product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (GDP) compared to the 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion or 9.9% of GDP. For 2011, the administration predicted the deficit will slightly shrink to $1.34 trillion, while the 10-year deficit will increase to $8.53 trillion or 80% of GDP. The most recent increase in the U.S. debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion was signed into law on February 12, 2010. On August 2, 2011, after a lengthy congressional debate over whether to raise the nation's debt limit, Obama signed the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011
Budget Control Act of 2011
The Budget Control Act of 2011 was passed by the 112th United States Congress signed into law by President Barack Obama. It brought conclusion to the 2011 United States debt ceiling crisis, which had threatened to lead the United States into sovereign default on or about August 3, 2011.The law...

. The legislation enforces limits on discretionary spending until 2021, establishes a procedure to increase the debt limit, creates a Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to propose further deficit reduction with a stated goal of achieving at least $1.5 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years, and establishes automatic procedures for reducing spending by as much as $1.2 trillion if legislation originating with the new joint select committee does not achieve such savings. By passing the legislation, Congress was able to prevent an unprecedented U.S. government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 default
Default (finance)
In finance, default occurs when a debtor has not met his or her legal obligations according to the debt contract, e.g. has not made a scheduled payment, or has violated a loan covenant of the debt contract. A default is the failure to pay back a loan. Default may occur if the debtor is either...

 on its obligations.

The unemployment rate rose in 2009, reaching a peak in October at 10.1% and averaging 10.0% in the fourth quarter. Following a decrease to 9.7% in the first quarter of 2010, the unemployment rate fell to 9.6% in the second quarter, where it remained for the rest of the year. Between February and December 2010, employment rose by 0.8%, which was less than the average of 1.9% experienced during comparable periods in the past four employment recoveries. GDP growth returned in the third quarter of 2009, expanding at a 1.6% pace, followed by a 5.0% increase in the fourth quarter. Growth continued in 2010, posting an increase of 3.7% in the first quarter, with lesser gains throughout the rest of the year. In July 2010, the Federal Reserve
Federal Reserve System
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907...

 expressed that although economic activity continued to increase, its pace had slowed and its Chairman, Ben Bernanke
Ben Bernanke
Ben Shalom Bernanke is an American economist, and the current Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States. During his tenure as Chairman, Bernanke has overseen the response of the Federal Reserve to late-2000s financial crisis....

, stated that the economic outlook was "unusually uncertain." Overall, the economy expanded at a rate of 2.9% in 2010.

The Congressional Budget Office
Congressional Budget Office
The Congressional Budget Office is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government that provides economic data to Congress....

 and a broad range of economists credit Obama's stimulus plan for economic growth. The CBO released a report stating that the stimulus bill increased employment by 1–2.1 million, while conceding that "It is impossible to determine how many of the reported jobs would have existed in the absence of the stimulus package." Although an April 2010 survey of members of the National Association for Business Economics
National Association for Business Economics
The National Association for Business Economics is the largest international association of applied economists, strategists, academics, and policy-makers committed to the application of economics. Founded in 1959, it is one of the member organizations of the Allied Social Sciences Association...

 showed an increase in job creation (over a similar January survey) for the first time in two years, 73% of the 68 respondents believed that the stimulus bill has had no impact on employment.

Within a month of the 2010 midterm elections
United States elections, 2010
The 2010 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010. During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate were contested in this election along with 38 state and territorial...

, Obama announced a compromise deal with the Congressional Republican leadership that included a temporary, two-year extension of the 2001 and 2003 income tax rates
Bush tax cuts
The Bush tax cuts refers to changes to the United States tax code passed during the presidency of George W. Bush and extended during the presidency of Barack Obama that generally lowered tax rates and revised the code specifying taxation in the United States...

, a one-year payroll tax
Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax
Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax is a United States payroll tax imposed by the federal government on both employees and employers to fund Social Security and Medicare —federal programs that provide benefits for retirees, the disabled, and children of deceased workers...

 reduction, continuation of unemployment benefits, and a new rate and exemption amount for estate taxes
Estate tax in the United States
The estate tax in the United States is a tax imposed on the transfer of the "taxable estate" of a deceased person, whether such property is transferred via a will, according to the state laws of intestacy or otherwise made as an incident of the death of the owner, such as a transfer of property...

. The compromise overcame opposition from some in both parties, and the resulting $858 billion Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 , was passed by the United States Congress on December 16, 2010 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 17, 2010....

 passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress before Obama signed it on December 17, 2010.

Health care reform


Obama called for Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 to pass legislation reforming health care in the United States
Health care in the United States
Health care in the United States is provided by many separate legal entities. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by the private sector...

, a key campaign promise and a top legislative goal. He proposed an expansion of health insurance coverage to cover the uninsured, to cap premium increases, and to allow people to retain their coverage when they leave or change jobs. His proposal was to spend $900 billion over 10 years and include a government insurance plan, also known as the public option
Public health insurance option
The public health insurance option is a proposed government-run health insurance agency which competes with other health insurance companies. It is not the same as Publicly-funded health care. Called the public insurance option or public option, for short, it was a proposed health insurance plan...

, to compete with the corporate insurance sector as a main component to lowering costs and improving quality of health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

. It would also make it illegal for insurers to drop sick people or deny them coverage for pre-existing condition
Pre-existing condition
A pre-existing condition is a risk with extant causes that is not readily compensated by standard, affordable insurance premiums. Pre-existing condition exclusions by the insurance industry are meant to cope with adverse selection by potential customers. Such exclusions have become a topic in the...

s, and require every American carry health coverage. The plan also includes medical spending cuts and taxes on insurance companies that offer expensive plans.

On July 14, 2009, House Democratic leaders introduced a 1,017-page plan for overhauling the U.S. health care system, which Obama wanted Congress to approve by the end of 2009. After much public debate during the Congressional summer recess of 2009, Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress
Barack Obama speech to joint session of Congress, September 2009
United States President Barack Obama discussed his plan for health care reform in a speech delivered to a joint session of the 111th United States Congress on September 9, 2009 at 8:00 PM . The speech was delivered to Congress on the floor of the chamber of the United States House of...

 on September 9 where he addressed concerns over his administration's proposals. In March 2009, Obama lifted a ban on stem cell research.

On November 7, 2009, a health care bill featuring the public option was passed in the House. On December 24, 2009, the Senate passed its own bill—without a public option—on a party-line vote of 60–39. On March 21, 2010, the health care bill passed by the Senate in December was passed in the House by a vote of 219 to 212. Obama signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill



On April 20, 2010, an explosion destroyed an offshore drilling rig
Drilling rig
A drilling rig is a machine which creates holes or shafts in the ground. Drilling rigs can be massive structures housing equipment used to drill water wells, oil wells, or natural gas extraction wells, or they can be small enough to be moved manually by one person...

 at the Macondo Prospect
Macondo Prospect
The Macondo Prospect is an oil and gas prospect in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone of the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana...

 in the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, causing a major sustained oil leak. The well's operator, BP
BP
BP p.l.c. is a global oil and gas company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the third-largest energy company and fourth-largest company in the world measured by revenues and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors"...

, initiated a containment and cleanup plan, and began drilling two relief well
Relief well
A relief well is a well drilled to intersect an oil or gas well that has experienced a blowout. Specialized liquid, such as heavy drilling mud followed by cement, can then be pumped down the relief well in order to stop the flow from the reservoir in the damaged well.The first use of a relief well...

s intended to stop the flow. Obama visited the Gulf on May 2 among visits by members of his cabinet, and again on May 28 and June 4. He began a federal investigation and formed a bipartisan commission to recommend new safety standards, after a review by Secretary of the Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

 Ken Salazar
Ken Salazar
Kenneth Lee "Ken" Salazar is the current United States Secretary of the Interior, in the administration of President Barack Obama. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a United States Senator from Colorado from 2005 to 2009. He and Mel Martinez were the first Hispanic U.S...

 and concurrent Congressional hearings. On May 27, he announced a 6-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling permits and leases, pending regulatory review. As multiple efforts by BP failed, some in the media and public expressed confusion and criticism over various aspects of the incident, and stated a desire for more involvement by Obama and the federal government.

Foreign policy


In February and March, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Hillary Rodham Clinton made separate overseas trips to announce a "new era" in U.S. foreign relations with Russia and Europe, using the terms "break" and "reset" to signal major changes from the policies of the preceding administration. Obama attempted to reach out to Arab leaders by granting his first interview to an Arab cable TV network, Al Arabiya
Al Arabiya
Al Arabiya is a Pan-Arabist Saudi-owned Arabic-language television news channel. Launched on March 3, 2003, the channel is based in Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates, and is majority-owned by the Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center ....

.

On March 19, Obama continued his outreach to the Muslim world, releasing a New Year's video message to the people and government of Iran. This attempt at outreach was rebuffed by the Iranian leadership. In April, Obama gave a speech in Ankara, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, which was well received by many Arab governments. On June 4, 2009, Obama delivered a speech at Cairo University
Cairo University
Cairo University is a public university located in Giza, Egypt.The university was founded on December 21, 1908, as the result of an effort to establish a national center for educational thought...

 in Egypt calling for "a new beginning
A New Beginning
"A New Beginning" is the name of a speech delivered by United States President Barack Obama on June 4, 2009, from the Major Reception Hall at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt. Al-Azhar University co-hosted the event...

" in relations between the Islamic world and the United States and promoting Middle East peace.

On June 26, 2009, in response to the Iranian government's actions towards protesters following Iran's 2009 presidential election
Iranian presidential election, 2009
Iran's tenth presidential election was held on 12 June 2009, with incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad running against three challengers. The next morning the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, announced that with two-thirds of the votes counted, Ahmadinejad had won the election...

, Obama said: "The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. We see it and we condemn it." On July 7, while in Moscow, he responded to a Vice President Biden comment on a possible Israeli military strike on Iran by saying: "We have said directly to the Israelis that it is important to try and resolve this in an international setting in a way that does not create major conflict in the Middle East."
On September 24, 2009, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to preside
President of the United Nations Security Council
The President of the United Nations Security Council is the presiding officer of that body. The president is the head of the delegation from the Security Council member state that holds the rotating presidency.-Selection:...

 over a meeting of the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

.

In March 2010, Obama took a public stance against plans by the government of Israeli Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

 to continue building Jewish housing projects in predominantly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

. During the same month, an agreement was reached with the administration of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n President Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

 to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
START I
START was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994...

 with a new pact reducing the number of long-range nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both countries by about one-third. The New START
New START
New START is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms...

 treaty was signed by Obama and Medvedev in April 2010, and was ratified by the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 in December 2010.

Iraq War


During his presidential transition
Presidential transition of Barack Obama
The presidential transition of Barack Obama began when he won the United States presidential election on November 4, 2008, and became the President-Elect. He was formally elected by the Electoral College on December 15, 2008...

, President-elect
President-elect
An -elect is a political candidate who has been elected to an office but who has not yet been sworn in or officially taken office. These may include an incoming president, senator, representative, governor and mayor.Analogously, the term "designate" An -elect is a political candidate who has been...

 Obama announced that he would retain the incumbent Defense Secretary, Robert Gates
Robert Gates
Dr. Robert Michael Gates is a retired civil servant and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W....

, in his Cabinet.

On February 27, 2009, Obama declared that combat operations would end in Iraq within 18 months. His remarks were made to a group of Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. Obama said, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end." The Obama administration scheduled the withdrawal of combat troops to be completed by August 2010, decreasing troops levels from 142,000 while leaving a transitional force of 35,000 to 50,000 in Iraq until the end of 2011. On August 19, 2010, the last United States combat brigade exited Iraq. The plan is to transition the mission of the remaining troops from combat operations to counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 and the training, equipping, and advising of Iraqi security forces. On August 31, 2010, Obama announced that the United States combat mission in Iraq was over. On October 21, 2011 President Obama announced that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq in time to be, "home for the holidays."

War in Afghanistan


Early in his presidency, Obama moved to bolster U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan. He announced an increase to U.S. troop levels of 17,000 in February 2009 to "stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan", an area he said had not received the "strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires". He replaced the military commander in Afghanistan, General David D. McKiernan
David D. McKiernan
David D. McKiernan is a retired United States Army four-star general who served in Afghanistan as Commander, International Security Assistance Force from June 3, 2008 to June 15, 2009. He served concurrently as Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan from October 6, 2008 to June 15, 2009.Prior to...

, with former Special Forces commander Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal
Stanley A. McChrystal
Stanley Allen McChrystal is a retired four-star general in the United States Army. His last assignment was as Commander, International Security Assistance Force and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan...

 in May 2009, indicating that McChrystal's Special Forces experience would facilitate the use of counterinsurgency tactics in the war. On December 1, 2009, Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 military personnel to Afghanistan. He also proposed to begin troop withdrawals 18 months from that date. McChrystal was replaced by David Petraeus
David Petraeus
David Howell Petraeus is the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sworn in on September 6, 2011. Prior to his assuming the directorship of the CIA, Petraeus was a four-star general serving over 37 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as commander...

 in June 2010 after McChrystal's staff criticized White House personnel in a magazine article.

Israel



During the initial years of the Obama administration, the U.S. increased military cooperation with Israel, including a record number of U.S. troops participating in military exercises in the country, increased military aid, and the re-establishment of the U.S.-Israeli Joint Political Military Group
Joint Political Military Group
On November 29, 1983 a memorandum of agreement was set up between Israel and the United States regarding political, military and economic cooperation. Part of the agreement was for a Joint Political Military Group as a high-level planning forum to discuss and implement combined planning, joint...

 and the Defense Policy Advisory Group. It was reported high-ranking defense officials from both countries had been making an unusual number of trips between the two countries, including Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government....

. Part of the military aid increase in 2010 was to fund Israel's missile defense shield. Before his retirement in September 2011, Adm. Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made four trips to Israel during his four-year tenure, two of them in 2010. Prior to 2007 no Chairman of the Joint Chiefs had done so for over ten years.

In 2011, Obama's Ambassador to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 vetoed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements, with the U.S. the only nation on the Security Council doing so. Like previous American presidential administrations, Obama supports the two-state solution
Two-state solution
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the consensus solution that is currently under discussion by the key parties to the conflict, most recently at the Annapolis Conference in November 2007...

 to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the 1967 borders with land swaps.

Libya


In March 2011, as forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 advanced on rebels across Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, formal calls for a no-fly zone came in from around the world, including Europe, the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

, and a resolution passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. In response to the unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, on the situation in Libya, is a measure that was adopted on 17 March 2011. The Security Council resolution was proposed by France, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom....

 on March 17, Gaddafi who had previously vowed to "show no mercy" to the citizens of Benghazi—announced an immediate cessation of military activities, yet reports came in that his forces continued shelling Misrata. The next day, on Obama's orders, the U.S. military took a lead role in air strikes to destroy the Libyan government's air defense capabilities in order to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly-zone, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, B-2 Spirits, and fighter jets. Six days later, on March 25, by unanimous vote of all of its 28 members, NATO took over leadership of the effort, dubbed Operation Unified Protector
Operation Unified Protector
Operation Unified Protector was an NATO operation enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 concerning the 2011 Libyan civil war and adopted on 17 February and 17 March respectively...

. Some Representatives questioned whether Obama had the constitutional authority to order military action in addition to questioning its cost, structure and aftermath.

Osama bin Laden


Starting with information received in July 2010, intelligence developed by the CIA over the next several months determined what they believed to be the location of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 in a large compound in Abbottabad
Abbottabad
Abbottabad is a city located in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in Pakistan. The city is situated in the Orash Valley, northeast of the capital Islamabad and east of Peshawar at an altitude of and is the capital of the Abbottabad District...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, a suburban area 35 miles from Islamabad
Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

. CIA head Leon Panetta
Leon Panetta
Leon Edward Panetta is the 23rd and current United States Secretary of Defense, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama since 2011. Prior to taking office, he served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 reported this intelligence to President Obama in March 2011. Meeting with his national security advisers over the course of the next six weeks, Obama rejected a plan to bomb the compound, and authorized a "surgical raid" to be conducted by United States Navy SEALs
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

. The operation took place on May 1, 2011, resulting in the death of bin Laden
Death of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, then head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time by a United States special forces military unit....

 and the seizure of papers and computer drives and disks from the compound. Bin Laden's body was identified through DNA testing, and buried at sea several hours later. Within minutes of the President's announcement from Washington, DC, late in the evening on May 1, there were spontaneous celebrations around the country as crowds gathered outside the White House, and at New York City's Ground Zero
World Trade Center site
The World Trade Center site , also known as "Ground Zero" after the September 11 attacks, sits on in Lower Manhattan in New York City...

 and Times Square
Times Square
Times Square is a major commercial intersection in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets...

. Reaction to the announcement
Reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden
On May 1, 2011, United States President Barack Obama confirmed that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.-Official reaction:...

 was positive across party lines, including from former Presidents Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, and from many countries around the world.

2010 midterm election


Obama called the November 2, 2010 election, where the Democratic Party lost 63 seats in, and control of, the House of Representatives, "humbling" and a "shellacking". He said that the results came because not enough Americans had felt the effects of the economic recovery.

Cultural and political image



Obama's family history, early life and upbringing, and Ivy League
Ivy League
The Ivy League is an athletic conference comprising eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group...

 education differ markedly from those of African-American politicians who launched their careers in the 1960s through participation in the civil rights movement. Obama is also not a descendant of American slaves. Expressing puzzlement over questions about whether he is "black enough", Obama told an August 2007 meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists
National Association of Black Journalists
The National Association of Black Journalists is an organization of African American journalists, students, and media professionals. Founded in 1975 in Washington, D.C...

 that "we're still locked in this notion that if you appeal to white folks then there must be something wrong." Obama acknowledged his youthful image in an October 2007 campaign speech, saying: "I wouldn't be here if, time and again, the torch had not been passed to a new generation."

Obama is frequently referred to as an exceptional orator. During his pre-inauguration transition period and continuing into his presidency, Obama has delivered a series of weekly Internet video addresses.
According to the Gallup Organization
The Gallup Organization
The Gallup Organization, is primarily a research-based performance-management consulting company. Some of Gallup's key practice areas are - Employee Engagement, Customer Engagement and Well-Being. Gallup has over 40 offices in 27 countries. World headquarters are in Washington, D.C. Operational...

, Obama began his presidency with a 68% approval rating before gradually declining for the rest of the year, and eventually bottoming out at 41% in August 2010, a trend similar to Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

's and Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

's first years in office. He experienced a small poll bounce shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden, which lasted until around June 2011, when his approval numbers dropped back to where they were prior to the operation. Polls show strong support for Obama in other countries, and before being elected President he has met with prominent foreign figures including then-British Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, Italy's Democratic Party
Democratic Party (Italy)
The Democratic Party is a social-democratic political party in Italy, that is the second-largest in the country. The party is led by Pier Luigi Bersani, who was elected in the 2009 leadership election....

 leader and then Mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 of Rome Walter Veltroni
Walter Veltroni
Walter Veltroni, Knight Grand Cross, is an Italian writer, journalist and politician, who served as the first leader of the Democratic Party within the centre-left opposition, until his resignation on 17 February 2009. He served as Mayor of Rome from 2001 to 2008.-Biography:Walter Veltroni was...

, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

.

According to a May 2009 poll conducted by Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive , headquartered in New York, New York, is a custom market research firm, known for the Harris Poll. Harris works in a wide range of industries...

 for France 24
France 24
France 24 is an international news and current affairs television channel. The service is aimed at the overseas market, similar to BBC World News, DW-TV, NHK World and RT, and broadcast through satellite and cable operators throughout the world. During 2010 the channel started broadcasting through...

 and the International Herald Tribune
International Herald Tribune
The International Herald Tribune is a widely read English language international newspaper. It combines the resources of its own correspondents with those of The New York Times and is printed at 38 sites throughout the world, for sale in more than 160 countries and territories...

, Obama was rated as the most popular world leader, as well as the one figure most people would pin their hopes on for pulling the world out of the economic downturn.

Obama won Best Spoken Word Album
Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album
The Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album has been awarded since 1959. The award had several minor name changes:*In 1959 the award was known as Best Performance, Documentary or Spoken Word...

 Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

s for abridged audiobook versions of Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by United States President Barack Obama. It was first published in July 1995 as he was preparing to launch his political career, five years after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in...

in February 2006 and for The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by then-Senator Barack Obama. In the fall of 2006 it became number one on both the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. In the book, Obama expounds on...

in February 2008. His concession speech after the New Hampshire primary was set to music by independent artists as the music video "Yes We Can
Yes We Can
"Yes We Can" is the first single from Change Is Now: Renewing America's Promise, a compilation album organised and produced by Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am...

", which was viewed 10 million times on YouTube in its first month and received a Daytime Emmy Award
Daytime Emmy Award
The Daytime Emmy Awards are awards presented by the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of excellence in American daytime television programming...

. In December 2008, Time magazine named Obama as its Person of the Year for his historic candidacy and election, which it described as "the steady march of seemingly impossible accomplishments".
On October 9, 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee
Norwegian Nobel Committee
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the Nobel Peace Prize each year.Its five members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament and roughly represent the political makeup of that body.-History:...

 announced that Obama had won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize
2009 Nobel Peace Prize
The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people." The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the award on October 9, 2009, citing Obama's promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and...

 "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". Obama accepted this award in Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 on December 10, 2009, with "deep gratitude and great humility." The award drew a mixture of praise and criticism from world leaders and media figures. Obama is the fourth U.S. president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 and the third to become a Nobel laureate while in office.

In a 2010 Siena College
Siena College
Siena College is an independent Roman Catholic liberal arts college in Loudonville, in the town of Colonie, New York, United States. Siena is a four-year, coeducational, independent college in the Franciscan tradition, founded by the Franciscan Friars in 1937. It has 3,000 full-time students and...

 poll of 238 presidential scholars, Obama was ranked 15th out of 43, with high ratings for imagination, communication ability and intelligence and a low rating for background (family, education and experience).

Family and personal life


In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family: "It's like a little mini-United Nations", he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac
Bernie Mac
Bernard Jeffrey McCullough , better known by his stage name, Bernie Mac, was an American actor and comedian. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Mac gained popularity as a stand-up comedian. He joined comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and D. L...

, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

." Obama has a half-sister with whom he was raised, Maya Soetoro-Ng
Maya Soetoro-Ng
Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng is the maternal half-sister of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States. She was previously a high school history teacher and university instructor in Hawaii.-Early life:...

, the daughter of his mother and her Indonesian second husband and seven half-siblings from his Kenyan father's family – six of them living. Obama's mother was survived by her Kansas-born mother, Madelyn Dunham, until her death on November 2, 2008, two days before his election to the Presidency. Obama also has roots in Ireland; he met with his Irish cousins in Moneygall in May 2011. In Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by United States President Barack Obama. It was first published in July 1995 as he was preparing to launch his political career, five years after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in...

, Obama ties his mother's family history to possible Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

, President of the Confederate States of America
President of the Confederate States of America
The President of the Confederate States of America was the Head of State and Head of Government of the Confederate States of America, which was formed from the states which declared their secession from the United States, thus precipitating the American Civil War. The only person to hold the...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Obama's great-uncle served in the 89th Division that overran Ohrdruf, the first of the Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

 to be liberated by U.S. troops during World War II.

Obama was known as "Barry" in his youth, but asked to be addressed with his given name during his college years. Besides his native English, Obama speaks Indonesian
Indonesian language
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....

 at the conversational level, which he learned during his four childhood years in Jakarta. He plays basketball, a sport he participated in as a member of his high school's varsity team.
Obama is a well known supporter of the Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox are a Major League Baseball team located in Chicago, Illinois.The White Sox play in the American League's Central Division. Since , the White Sox have played in U.S. Cellular Field, which was originally called New Comiskey Park and nicknamed The Cell by local fans...

, and threw out the first pitch at the 2005 ALCS when he was still a senator. In 2009, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the all star game
2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 80th midseason exhibition between the all-stars of the American League and the National League , the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 14, 2009, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, the home of the...

 while wearing a White Sox jacket. He is also primarily a Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 fan in the NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

, but in his childhood and adolesence was a fan
Steeler Nation
Steeler Nation is the unofficial name of the fan base of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, coined by NFL Films narrator John Facenda in "Blueprint for Victory," the team's 1975 highlights film...

 of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

, and recently rooted for them ahead of their victory in Super Bowl XLIII
Super Bowl XLIII
Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game pitting the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers against the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals to decide the National Football League champion for the 2008 season. The game was played on February 1, 2009,...

 12 days after Obama took office as President.

In June 1989, Obama met Michelle Robinson
Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States...

 when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin
Sidley Austin
Sidley Austin LLP, formerly known as Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, is one of the oldest law firms in the world. It is the sixth-largest U.S.-based corporate law firm with more than 1,650 lawyers, annual revenues of more than one billion dollars, and offices in 17 cities worldwide, with the most...

. Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial requests to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992. The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born on July 4, 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), on June 10, 2001. The Obama daughters attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools is a private, co-educational day school in Chicago, Illinois. It is affiliated with the University of Chicago...

. When they moved to Washington, D.C., in January 2009, the girls started at the private Sidwell Friends School
Sidwell Friends School
Sidwell Friends School is a Quaker private school located in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington, D.C., offering pre-kindergarten through secondary school classes. Founded in 1883 by Thomas Sidwell, its motto is "Eluceat omnibus lux" , alluding to the Quaker concept of inner light...

. The Obamas have a Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is a breed of working dog as classified by the American Kennel Club. Portuguese Water Dogs are originally from the Portuguese region of the Algarve, from where the breed expanded to all around Portugal's coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen's nets, to...

 named Bo
Bo (dog)
Bo is the pet dog of the Obama family, the First Family of the United States. Bo is a neutered male Portuguese Water Dog. President Barack Obama and his family were given the dog as a gift after months of speculation about the breed and identity of their future pet...

, a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy.

Applying the proceeds of a book deal, the family moved in 2005 from a Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, United States and seven miles south of the Chicago Loop, is a Chicago neighborhood and one of 77 Chicago community areas. It is home to the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Museum of Science...

 condominium to a $1.6 million house in neighboring Kenwood, Chicago
Kenwood, Chicago
Kenwood, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, Illinois, is one of the 77 well-defined Chicago community areas.Kenwood was part of Hyde Park Township, which was annexed by the City of Chicago in 1889....

. The purchase of an adjacent lot and sale of part of it to Obama by the wife of developer, campaign donor and friend Tony Rezko
Tony Rezko
Antoin "Tony" Rezko is a Assyrian -American businessman, political fundraiser, restaurateur, and real estate developer in Chicago, Illinois, convicted on several counts of fraud and bribery in 2008. Rezko has been involved in fundraising for local Illinois Democratic and Republican politicians...

 attracted media attention because of Rezko's subsequent indictment and conviction on political corruption charges that were unrelated to Obama.

In December 2007, Money
Money (magazine)
Money is published by Time Inc. Its first issue was published in October 1972. Its articles cover the gamut of personal finance topics ranging from investing, saving, retirement and taxes to family finance issues like paying for college, credit, career and home improvement...

magazine estimated the Obama family's net worth at $1.3 million. Their 2009 tax return showed a household income of $5.5 million—up from about $4.2 million in 2007 and $1.6 million in 2005—mostly from sales of his books.

Obama tried to quit smoking several times, sometimes using nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy is the remedial administration of nicotine to the body by means other than tobacco, usually as part of smoking cessation. Common forms of nicotine replacement therapy are nicotine patches and nicotine gum...

, and, in early 2010, Michelle Obama said that he had successfully quit smoking.

Religious views


As he described in The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by then-Senator Barack Obama. In the fall of 2006 it became number one on both the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. In the book, Obama expounds on...

,
Obama is a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 whose religious views developed in his adult life. He wrote that he "was not raised in a religious household". He described his mother, raised by non-religious parents (whom Obama has specified elsewhere as "non-practicing Methodists and Baptists"), to be detached from religion, yet "in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known". He described his father as "raised a Muslim", but a "confirmed atheist" by the time his parents met, and his stepfather as "a man who saw religion as not particularly useful". Obama explained how, through working with black churches as a community organizer
Community organizing
Community organizing is a process where people who live in proximity to each other come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest. A core goal of community organizing is to generate durable power for an organization representing the community, allowing it to influence...

 while in his twenties, he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change".

In an interview with the evangelical periodical Christianity Today
Christianity Today
Christianity Today is an Evangelical Christian periodical based in Carol Stream, Illinois. It is the flagship publication of its parent company Christianity Today International, claiming circulation figures of 140,000 and readership of 290,000...

, Obama stated: "I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life."

On September 27, 2010, Obama released a statement commenting on his religious views saying "I'm a Christian by choice. My family didn't—frankly, they weren't folks who went to church every week. And my mother was one of the most spiritual people I knew, but she didn't raise me in the church. So I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead—being my brothers' and sisters' keeper, treating others as they would treat me."

Obama was baptized at the Trinity United Church of Christ
Trinity United Church of Christ
Trinity United Church of Christ is a predominantly black church with more than 8,500 members, located on the southwest side of Chicago. It is the largest church affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white Christian denomination with roots in Congregationalism, which branched...

, a black liberation church
Black liberation theology
Black liberation theology, sometimes shortened to black theology, is a relatively new theological perspective found in some Christian churches in the United States. It maintains that African Americans must be liberated from multiple forms of bondage — political, social, economic, and religious...

, in 1988, and was an active member there for two decades. Obama resigned from Trinity during the Presidential campaign after controversial statements
Jeremiah Wright controversy
The Jeremiah Wright controversy is an American political issue that gained national attention in March 2008 when ABC News, after reviewing dozens of U.S. 2008 Presidential Election candidate Barack Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright's sermons, excerpted parts which were subject to intense media scrutiny...

 made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright
Jeremiah Wright
Jeremiah Alvesta Wright, Jr. is Pastor Emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ , a megachurch in Chicago exceeding 6,000 members...

 became public. After a prolonged effort to find a church to attend regularly in Washington, Obama announced in June 2009 that his primary place of worship would be the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David
Camp David
Camp David is the country retreat of the President of the United States and his guests. It is located in low wooded hills about 60 mi north-northwest of Washington, D.C., on the property of Catoctin Mountain Park in unincorporated Frederick County, Maryland, near Thurmont, at an elevation of...

.

Further reading

  • Curry, Jessica. "Barack Obama: Under the Lights", Chicago Life, Fall 2004. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.
  • Graff, Garrett. "The Legend of Barack Obama", Washingtonian, November 1, 2006. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.
  • Koltun, Dave (2005) "The 2004 Illinois Senate Race: Obama Wins Open Seat and Becomes National Political "Star"" in "The Road to Congress 2004" Editors: Sunil Ahuja (Youngstown State University
    Youngstown State University
    Youngstown State University, founded in 1908, is an urban research university located in Youngstown, Ohio, United States. As of fall 2010, there were 15,194 students and a student-faculty ratio of 19:1. It is recognized as being one of the premier schools in the country, comparable to Ivy League...

    ) and Robert Dewhirst (Truman State University
    Truman State University
    Truman State University is a public liberal arts and sciences university in Missouri, United States and a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. About 6,000 students attend Truman, pursuing degrees in 43 undergraduate and 9 Graduate programs. It is located in Kirksville in...

    ), Nova Science Publishers
    Nova Publishers
    Nova Publishers is an academic publisher based in Hauppauge, New York of books and journals for an academic audience. The company focuses on science, political science, European and Asian studies, and security studies. It was founded in 1985 in New York by Frank Columbus, former Vice-President of...

    , Hauppauge, New York, Binding: Hardcover Pub. Date: 2005, ISBN 1-59454-360-7
  • Lizza, Ryan. "Above the Fray", GQ, September 2007. Retrieved on October 27, 2010.
  • MacFarquhar, Larissa. "The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?", New Yorker, May 7, 2007. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.
  • McClelland, Edward, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President, Bloomsbury Press, 2010.
  • Zutter, Hank De. "What Makes Obama Run?", Chicago Reader, December 8, 1995. Retrieved on January 14, 2008.

External links


Official
Other
  • Collected news and commentary at Chicago Tribune
    Chicago Tribune
    The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...


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