Ten years ago, Barack Obama won a historic election. In honor of the anniversary of his campaign, we take a look back at five unforgettable moments, from the first announcement of his bid for President to the night the world watched his acceptance speech.
In 2008, the United States of America was heading towards an economic recession. Troops were overseas at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 45 million Americans did not have health insurance, and concern over climate change had reached a boiling point. And in the midst of it all, the country would elect its 44th President.
February 10, 2007: Obama Announces Campaign US Senator Barack Obama looks out at supporters prior to his formally announcing that he is a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Photo by Stephen J. Carrera/EPA/Shutterstock (7840221g)
On this February day in Springfield, Illinois, then-Senator Barack Obama formally announced his run for the Democratic nomination. He told the crowd, “In the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.” The weather was freezing, but the excitement was high; the candidate would later say, “I wasn’t too cold.”
US Senator Barack Obama looks out at supporters prior to his formally announcing that he is a Democratic candidate for President of the United States.. Photo by Stephen J. Carrera/EPA/Shutterstock US Senator Barack Obama looks out at supporters prior to his formally announcing that he is a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Photo by Stephen J. Carrera/EPA/Shutterstock (7840221j) January 3: Iowa Primary Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama Delivers a Speech at a Caucus Night Rally at Hy-vee Hall After Winning the 2008 Iowa Democratic Caucus in Des Moines Iowa. Photo by Michal Czerwonka/EPA/Shutterstock
In Iowa, some 236,000 individuals came out for the Democratic caucuses, setting a record; for comparison’s sake, 2004 saw 124,000 people. Obama won with 38 percent of the vote. “You know, they said this day would never come,” the candidate in his speech to supporters. “But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do.”
The candidate discussed affordable health care, an end to the Iraq War, plans to combat climate change, and an enduring American belief that hope was more powerful than fear. In his TIME column the next day, Joe Klein wrote about the candidate’s civility and his refusal to hit below the belt; he suggested the emergence of a new generation in politics, defined not by convention but by progress and the spirit of unification.
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., and his wife Michelle and daughter Malia, left, celebrate with his supporters after his victory in the Iowa caucus, in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock January 26: South Carolina Primary Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., delivers his victory speech after his South Carolina primary win over Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., during a rally in Columbia, S.C. Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/Shutterstock (9613143a)
Later that month, Obama won the South Carolina primary in what many called “a landslide.” In his victory speech, the candidate reflected on the diversity of the turnout. “I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina,” he said. “I saw South Carolina.” Citizens of the state had come together to break racial barriers, and during the speech, the crowd erupted multiple times with the chant, “Race doesn’t matter.”
Supporters for Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., celebrate his win in the South Carolina primary in Columbia, S.C. Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/Shutterstock (9607470a) March 18: “A More Perfect Union” Barack Obama at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008.. Photo by Rtn Vantine/Mediapunch./Shutterstock (8959915a) Michelle Obama, wife of Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential Hopeful Barack Obama, listens as he Speaks at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 18 March, 2008. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/EPA/Shutterstock (7748962m)
In a speech titled A More Perfect Union, Obama took a moment to confront our country’s difficult racial history. He spoke about our past, one built on a belief in equality but nonetheless marred by slavery and the Jim Crow era, and he spoke about a future in which Americans of all races and genders could come together towards a common goal.
Tim Rutten, writing for the Los Angeles Times, called it “Obama’s Lincoln moment,” while outlets like The New Yorker and The Washington Post have since credited the speech as one of the key moments in securing the election.
Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential Hopeful Barack Obama speaks at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 18 March, 2008. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/EPA/Shutterstock (7748962g) November 4th: Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States President-elect Barack Obama, left, his wife Michelle Obama, right, and two daughters, Malia and Sasha, center left, wave to the crowd at the election night rally in Chicago. Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP/Shutterstock (9613139c)
An astonishing 136.6 million Americans came out to vote, and at around 11:00 PM EST, networks announced a victory for Obama in Virginia, giving him the electoral votes needed to win the election. On that cold night in Grant Park in Chicago, the President-elect spoke in front of a crowd of over 200,000 people.
LaZane Tyler, left, begins to cry after a broadcast prediction that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill, will become President in an overflow area of Grant Park in Chicago. Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/Shutterstock (9605969b) Supporters of President-elect Barack Obama cheer in the streets in downtown Chicago on 4 November, 2008. Photo by STACIE FREUDENBERG/AP/Shutterstock
At the close of his address, Obama told the country about a woman named Ann Nixon Cooper, who, at 106 years old, had been born at a time when she would not have been allowed to vote, both because of her gender and her race. After more than a century of life as an American citizen, Cooper had cast her ballot, one that would help usher in the first African American President of the United States.
Cover image by Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock.
The post A Look Back at Barack Obama’s First Campaign for President appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.
Read more: shutterstock.com