Barack Obama

3.3943519918457 (1983)
Posted by pompos 03/02/2009 @ 12:11

Tags : barack obama, the us president, white house, government, politics

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Politics Today: Obama Turns Focus To Health Care - CBS News
She will tell "lawmakers Wednesday that President Barack Obama is willing to listen to suggestions on how to pay for a health care overhaul, as long as they don't increase the deficit," the AP reports. "'The president is open to good ideas about how we...
Obama hopeful on Iran but preparing for setback - The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama remains publicly hopeful that Iran will emerge from its political crisis more open to international concerns about its nuclear ambitions, but the administration is preparing on several fronts for a darker...
Obama: Not smoking is constant struggle - AFP
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he was 95 percent cured from smoking and never lights up in front of his daughters, but called quitting a constant struggle and admitted: "There are times where I mess up....
Obama, Dutch PM meet in Washington next month - The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama will be meeting next month with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende (YAHN' PAY'-tehr BAHL'-keh-nehn-deh) to discuss bilateral relations and the Netherlands help with the US-led effort...
Obama: Bernanke doing good job - The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing a fine job under difficult circumstances but he declines to say whether he will reappoint the chairman in January. Obama said he would not make news about...
Financial overhaul: Get ready for a fight - CNNMoney.com
By Richard Beales, breakingviews.com (breakingviews.com) -- President Barack Obama had better be ready for fisticuffs. Though the administration's plan to overhaul US financial regulation appears designed to avoid some big battles, the president's...
A sad Father's Day message to President Barack Obama from Taiwan's ... - Examiner.com
Yes, although President Obama's father left him when he was only two, President Obama is still a very lucky man, and Mrs. Obama is a very lucky woman to have him. Most of all, you are both lucky to be born as American. My father was murdered when my...
Obama: Isolate the extremists - CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama told a Pakistani television outlet that isolating extremists is crucial for improving ties between Muslim nations and the United States. Pakistanis in Karachi Sunday watch an interview with US President Barack...
N Korea defends nuclear programme - BBC News
The statement came after US President Barack Obama said Washington was "fully prepared" for a possible North Korean missile test. There have been recent warnings in South Korean and Japanese newspapers that the North is preparing another long-range...
Bill Clinton says Barack Obama on right track - The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton rallied Democrats on Saturday with a vigorous defense of President Barack Obama, saying that Obama has done what was needed to spark the economy. Clinton said he believed Obama had acted correctly in...

Barack Obama presidential primary campaign, 2008

Barack Obama at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Presidential Health Care Forum, March 2007.

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 presidential election. He is the first African-American in American History to be nominated by a major party. On November 4, 2008, Obama won the presidential election and currently serves as the 44th President of the United States, succeeding George W. Bush.

Obama announced his candidacy at the Old State Capitol building where Abraham Lincoln delivered his "House Divided" speech in 1858. Obama was the main challenger, along with John Edwards, to Democratic Party frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton for much of 2007. His initial victory in the Iowa caucus helped bring him to national prominence out of the crowded field of Democratic challengers, and his campaign began to trade a series of hard-fought state wins with expected frontunner Clinton in January, a trend which continued through Super Tuesday, where Obama had great success in large rural states, and Clinton was nearly as dominant in high-population coastal areas. Obama continued to have remarkable fundraising and electoral success in February, winning all 11 state and territorial-level contests following Super Tuesday, and "chipping away" at Clinton's core supporters in key states. Obama won the Vermont primary, however ended up losing Ohio and Rhode Island thus losing six delegates of his lead. Obama then won the Wyoming caucus and Mississippi primary, and later lost the Pennsylvania primary.

After Obama won the North Carolina primary and narrowly lost the Indiana primary, superdelegates began to endorse Obama in greater numbers. Despite losing West Virginia and Kentucky by wide margins, Obama's win in Oregon gave him an absolute majority of the pledged delegates, and he maintained that majority after the full delegations of Florida and Michigan were seated at half voting strength by a May 31st Democratic National Committee ruling. After a rush of support for Obama from superdelegates on June 3rd, the day of the final primary contests of Montana and South Dakota, Obama was estimated to surpass the 2,118 delegates required for the Democratic nomination. On June 7, Clinton formally ended her candidacy and endorsed Obama, making him the party's presumptive nominee. On 27 August, the Democratic Party of the United States nominated Barack Obama to run for the office of the President of the United States of America.

However, in an October 2006 interview on the television program Meet the Press, Obama appeared to open the possibility of a 2008 presidential bid. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin and Illinois State Comptroller Daniel Hynes were early advocates for a 2008 Obama presidential run. Many people in the entertainment community have also expressed readiness to campaign for an Obama presidency, including celebrity television show host Oprah Winfrey, singer Macy Gray, rap artist Common, and film actors George Clooney, Halle Berry, and Will Smith.

In September 2006, Obama was the featured speaker at Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's annual steak fry, a political event traditionally attended by presidential hopefuls in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses. In December 2006, Obama spoke at a New Hampshire event celebrating Democratic Party midterm election victories in the first-in-the-nation U.S. presidential primary state, drawing 1500 people.

On January 14, 2007, the Chicago Tribune reported that Obama had begun assembling his 2008 presidential campaign team, to be headquartered in Chicago. His team includes campaign manager David Plouffe and media consultant David Axelrod, who are partners at Chicago-based political consulting firm AKP&D Message and Media. Communications director Robert Gibbs was previously press secretary for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. Penny Pritzker heads the campaign finance team.

Other members of the campaign staff include Deputy National Campaign Director Steve Hildebrand, New Media Director Joe Rospars, speechwriter Jon Favreau, national press secretary Bill Burton, traveling press secretary Dan Pfeiffer, policy development Cassandra Butts, finance director Julianna Smoot, research director Devorah Adler, and pollsters Paul Harstad and Cornell Belcher.

A number of Obama's top aides have backgrounds with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who left the Senate due to re-election defeat at the same time Obama was entering it.

Obama's economic advisors include chief Austan Goolsbee, who has worked with him since his U.S. Senate campaign, Paul Volcker, Warren Buffett, health economist David Cutler and Jeffrey Leibman. His foreign policy advisors included a core of nine people: Greg Craig, Richard Danzig, Scott Gration, Anthony Lake, Denis McDonough, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice and Daniel Shapiro until March, 2008 when Samantha Power stepped down. A larger group of 250 advisers is divided into subgroups of about 20 people, each focusing on a specific area or topic. His legal affairs advisors include Martha Minow, Ronald Sullivan, Christopher Edley Jr., Eric Holder and Cassandra Butts.

Among his field staff, Paul Tewes and Mitch Stewart led Obama's winning Iowa caucus campaign and one or the other of them directed field operations in many other crucial states, including Nevada, Minnesota, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

Obama's campaign was notable for extensive use of a logo consisting of the letter O, with the center suggesting a sun rising over fields in the colors of the American flag. It was designed by a team at Chicago design firm Sender LLC.

In March 2007, the Obama campaign posted a question on Yahoo! Answers, entitled: "How can we engage more people in the democratic process?" which ultimately drew in over 17,000 responses.

On May 3, 2007, citing no specific threat but motivated by the large volume of hate mail directed at the Senator, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff announced that the United States Secret Service would provide protection for the campaign, including bodyguards for Obama and other services/resources similar to those employed for the safety of the President of the United States, albeit on a proportionally smaller level. Normally, presidential candidates are not offered Secret Service protection until early February of election year; this was the earliest protection had ever been granted.

After weeks of discourse surrounding the policy, Obama said there was "misreporting" of his comments, stating that, "I never called for an invasion of Pakistan or Afghanistan." He clarified that rather than a surge in the number of troops in Iraq, there needs to be a "diplomatic surge" and that if there were "actionable intelligence reports" showing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the U.S. troops as a last resort should enter and try to capture terrorists. That would happen, he added, only if "the Pakistani government was unable or unwilling" to go after the terrorists.

In mid-late October 2007, Obama came under fire from the Human Rights Campaign and others for a South Carolina gospel music campaign tour that featured singer Donnie McClurkin, who states that he is "ex-gay" and that homosexuality is a "curse the intention of God." Obama said in response that, "I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views." While not replacing McClurkin, the campaign added a gay minister to the tour.

As fall 2007 continued, Obama fell further behind Clinton in national polls. In late October 2007, two months before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, Obama began directly charging his top rival with failing to clearly state her political positions. This shift in approach attracted much media commentary; The New York Times' Adam Nagourney wrote that, "Obama has appeared to struggle from the start of this campaign with how to marry what he has promised to be a new approach to politics — free of the partisan bitterness that has marked presidential campaigns for so long — with what it takes to actually win a presidential race." In an early-anticipated October 30 Democratic debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Clinton suffered a poor debate performance under cross-examination from her Democratic rivals and the moderator. Obama's campaign was reinvigorated and he began to climb again in the polls.

Campaigning in November 2007, Obama told the Washington Post that as the Democratic nominee he would draw more support from independent and Republican voters in the general election than Clinton. At Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner Obama expanded the theme, saying that his presidency would "bring the country together in a new majority" to seek solutions to long-standing problems.

On November 21, Obama announced that Oprah Winfrey would be campaigning for him in the early primary states, setting off speculation that, although celebrity endorsements typically have little effect on voter opinions, Oprah's participation would supply Obama with a large, receptive audience. As word spread that Oprah's first appearance would be in Iowa, polls released in early December revealed Obama taking the lead in that decisive state.Then, on December 8, Oprah kicked-off a three-state tour supporting Obama's campaign, where she drew record-setting crowds in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and was described as "more cogent, more effective, more convincing" than anyone on the campaign trail.. The Oprah-Obama tour dominated political news headlines and cast doubts over Clinton's ability to recover her recently-lost lead in Iowa caucus polls.

When the close proximity of the first contests to the holidays prompted many candidates to release Christmas videos — allowing them to continue presenting their messages, but in more seasonal settings — Obama chose one that gave speaking parts to his wife and daughters and emphasized a message of thanks and unity.

Polling showed a tight race in the days leading up to the New Hampshire primary. All of the candidates barnstormed in New Hampshire during the four days after the Iowa caucuses, targeting undecided and independent voters in the state. The day before the election, polls conducted by CNN/WMUR, Rasmussen Reports and USA Today/Gallup showed Obama jumping ahead by 9, 10 and 13 points respectively. Despite the apparent surge of momentum, Clinton defeated Obama by a margin of 39.1 percent to 36.5 percent in the New Hampshire primary on January 8, 2008. Obama told supporters that he was "still fired up and ready to go," echoing a theme of his campaign.

In what has been deemed the "Yes We Can" speech, Obama acknowledged that he faced a fight for the nomination and that "nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change." The lyrics to the song in Yes We Can, an eponymous music video created by celebrity supporters of Obama, was entirely made up of pieces of this particular speech.

Meanwhile, Internet theories sprung up about how the vote counting itself had been suspect, due to discrepancies between machine-counted votes (which supported Clinton overall) and hand-counted votes (which supported Obama overall). Fifth-place finisher Dennis Kucinich's campaign paid $25,000 to have a recount done of all Democratic ballots cast in the primary, saying "It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery." On January 16 the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office began the recount. After recounting 23 percent of the state's democratic primary votes, the Secretary of State announced that no significant difference was found in any candidate's total, and that the oft-discussed discrepancy between hand-counted and machine-counted ballots was solely due to demographic factors.

The Nevada Caucus took place on January 19. Obama received the endorsement of two very important unions in the state: the Culinary Workers Union (whose 60,000 members staff the casinos and resorts of Las Vegas and elsewhere) and the Nevada chapter of the SEIU. Clinton countered by appealing to the Hispanic vote in the state, emphasizing that they were at special risk from the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis.

One day after the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Obama, the Nevada State Education Association—a teachers' union that while not officially endorsing Clinton, had top officials who did—filed a lawsuit seeking to eliminate at-large caucus sites that had been setup in nine Las Vegas resorts saying they violated equal protection and one-person-one-vote requirements. The suit was viewed as a proxy legal battle between Clinton and Obama, as the caucus sites within the casinos would be primarily used by members of the CWU, who are more likely to vote for Obama. This led Obama to allege that the suit was filed in order to hurt his chances at the caucuses. "Some of the people who set up the rules apparently didn't think we'd be as competitive as we were and trying to change them last minute," he said.

On January 17, a federal judge ruled that the casino at-large caucus plan could go ahead. This was seen as a win for Obama because of the Culinary Workers Union endorsement. To further complicate matters, the major news and polling organizations decided to not do any polls before the Nevada caucuses, fearing the newness of the caucus, the transient nature of Nevada's population, and more fallout from their bad experience in New Hampshire.

Clinton finished first in the state delegate count on January 19, winning 51% of delegates to the state convention. However, Obama was projected to win the Nevada national delegate count with 13 delegates to Clinton's 12, because the apportionment of some delegates are determined by Congressional District. Delegates to the national convention were determined officially at the April 19 state convention. At the convention, one of Clinton's pledged delegates defected to Obama, giving Obama 14 delegates to Clinton's 11.

On January 23, the Obama campaign filed an official letter of complaint with the Nevada Democratic Party charging the Clinton campaign with many violations of party rules during the caucuses, based upon 1,600 complaints they had received. The Clinton camp said the Obama operation was "grasping at straws" and that they had their own complaints about Obama campaign actions during the caucuses.

Rasmussen Reports released a poll January 7 showing that Obama led by 12 points, at 42% to Hillary Clinton's 30%. This was a substantial jump from December when the two were tied at 33%, and from November when Clinton led Obama by 10 points.

Issues of race came to the forefront as campaigning began for the South Carolina primary, the first to feature a large African American portion in the Democratic electorate. First, Bill Clinton referred to Obama's claim that he has been a staunch opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning as a "fairy tale," which some thought was a characterization of Obama's entire campaign. The former President called in to Al Sharpton's radio show to personally clarify that he respected and believed in Obama's viability.

The January 21 CNN/Congressional Black Caucus debate in Myrtle Beach was the most heated face-to-face meeting yet between the candidates, reflecting apparent personal animosity. Clinton criticized Obama for voting "present" on many occasions while in the Illinois legislature. "It's hard to have a straight up debate with you because you never take responsibility for any vote," she said. Obama explained that Illinois had a different system than Congress and that 'present' votes had a different function and use in the Illinois Senate. Obama said that he was working to help unemployed workers in Chicago while Clinton was "a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart." He also took issue with statements made on the campaign trail by Bill Clinton, saying "I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes." The confrontation was the most-watched primary season debate in cable television news history.

On May 31, 2008 the Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Commission met to resolve questions surrounding the contentious Florida and Michigan primaries. In the case of Florida, it was decided that the delegate distribution would be based on the primary results as they stood and the delegation would be seated in full, but with each delegate receiving half a vote. In the case of Michigan, the delegate distribution was based on an estimate that took into consideration factors such as the actual primary results, exiting polling, and surveys of voter preference among those who did not participate in the Michigan primary. The end result rewarded Senator Clinton with 69 delegates and Senator Obama 59. As with Florida, each delegate would be given a half vote.

Following his win in South Carolina, Obama received the endorsement of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, as well as Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, the former President's brother. Ted Kennedy's endorsement was considered "the biggest Democratic endorsement Obama could possibly get short of Bill Clinton or Al Gore." In particular, it gave the possibility of improving Obama's support among unions, Hispanics, and traditional base Democrats, all demographics that Clinton had been stronger in to this point. Obama won 13 of 22 states on Super Tuesday (February 5, 2008): Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah. His campaign claimed to have won more delegates.

On February 9, Obama won the Louisiana primary, as well as caucuses in Nebraska and Washington State. He garnered 57% of the available delegates in Louisiana, and 68% in both Nebraska and Washington. On the same day, he won caucuses in Virgin Islands with 92% of the popular vote. The next day, Obama took the Maine caucuses amid what one senior Maine Democratic official called an "incredible" turnout.

The "Potomac primary" took place on February 12. It included the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. There were 168 delegates up for grabs in the three primaries. Obama won all three, taking 75% of the popular vote in the District of Columbia, 60% in Maryland and 64% in Virginia. "Today, the change we seek swept through Chesapeake and over the Potomac," Obama said at a rally in Madison.

Two more primaries followed on February 19: Wisconsin and Hawaii. Obama won both decisively, taking 58% of the vote in Wisconsin and 14 of the 20 available national delegates in Hawaii. On February 21, Obama was announced as the winner of the week-long Democrats Abroad contest. The Democratic presidential candidate defended himself and his wife February 24 against suggestions that they are insufficiently patriotic. Barack Obama’s campaign accused Hillary Clinton’s team February 25 of circulating a photo of the Illinois senator donning traditional attire – clothing worn by area Muslims – as a goodwill gesture during an overseas trip. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton argued with each other over negative campaigning, health care and free trade February 26. Obama and John McCain engaged in a pointed exchange over Al-Qaeda in Iraq on February 27.

In Ohio, as part of the campaign's self proclaimed goal to knock on a million doors the weekend immediately before the primary, Governor Deval Patrick (D-Massachusetts) and Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kansas) spoke to Obama volunteers at volunteer rallies across the state on March 1 and 2, 2008. Obama, who had won the eleven contests in February following Super Tuesday, claimed victory in the Vermont primary and the Texas Democratic caucuses, on March 4, 2008 but lost the primaries in Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

On March 8, 2008, Barack Obama won the Wyoming caucus by nineteen points. The Clinton camp continued to suggest that Obama would make a good Vice Presidential candidate for Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton made known his support of this as a "dream ticket" which would be an "almost unstoppable force." On March 10, he flatly rejected such suggestions. Obama noted that he, not Senator Clinton, held the lead in pledged delegates and that he had won more of the popular vote than Clinton. "I don't know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to somebody who is in first place," he said. He told supporters in Columbus, Mississippi, that Clinton's VP suggestion was an example of what he called "the old okey-doke," further stating that the Clinton camp was trying to "bamboozle" or "hoodwink" voters. Obama wondered aloud why the Clinton campaign believed him competent for the Vice Presidency, but said he was "not ready" to be President.

On March 11, 2008, Obama won the Mississippi primary. There, Obama won approximately 90% of the black vote, compared to Clinton's 70% majority of white voters. On March 11, 2008, David Axelrod demanded that Sen. Clinton sever ties with Geraldine Ferraro, a top Clinton fundraiser and 1984 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, who said publicly that Obama was a major presidential contender only because he is a black man. Sen. Barack Obama widened his lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton in the overall delegate count when he was declared the winner of the March 4 Texas caucuses on March 12, 2008.Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would both statistically tie Republican John McCain in a general election matchup, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released March 18, 2008.The National Archives on March 19, 2008 released more than 11,000 pages of Sen. Hillary Clinton's schedule when she was first lady. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign had pushed for the documents' release, arguing that their review is necessary to make a full evaluation of Clinton's experience as first lady. Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama released their tax returns from 2000 to 2006 on his campaign Web site March 26, 2008, and he challenged Sen. Hillary Clinton to release hers.

After Obama's win in Mississippi on March 11, 2008, the campaign turned its attention to Pennsylvania. Mid March polls by Rasmussen Reports, Franklin & Marshall College, Quinnipiac University and Public Policy Polling had Obama trailing Senator Clinton in Pennsylvania by 12 to 16 points.

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Hillary Clinton described the remarks as "elitist, out of touch and frankly patronizing." Noting he had not chosen his words well, Obama subsequently explained his remarks, "Lately there has been a little typical sort of political flare-up, because I said something that everybody knows is true, which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois, who are bitter." Obama had addressed similar themes in a 2004 interview with Charlie Rose, and his strategists countered that Bill Clinton had made similar comments in 1991.

We need sensible gun laws. I just got back from Montana where just about everyone has guns. In that culture, fathers and sons bond over hunting. You can't take that away from rural America. But the inner city is different, and we should tighten the laws on gun purchases and close the loopholes in gun show sales to unscrupulous buyers. The gun control people and the right to bear arms people are talking past each other about disconnected topics.

That Obama's comments in San Francisco made wide media play but not the ones he spoke in Silicon Valley became a source of speculation about the media and its political coverage.

On April 18, Obama spoke in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a crowd of 35,000, at that point the largest audience yet drawn during his campaign. The next day, Obama conducted a whistle stop train tour from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.

The last big event in the final week of the campaign was the April 16 debate on ABC-TV. Many pundits gave the edge to Hillary Clinton, though many were critical of moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. A two-month-old controversy gained more exposure when Stephanopoulos questioned Obama during the debate about Obama's contacts with Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers.

Polls during the debate week showed the momentum that had cut Clinton's lead by half had stalled. Despite being outspent by three to one, Clinton would win the April 22 primary election with 54.6% of the vote, a solid nine point margin over Obama's 45.4%. Although Clinton remained behind in delegates, the press soon ran cover stories about Obama's apparent trouble connecting with less educated whites and Catholics.

After Clinton's victory in Pennsylvania, the campaigns focused on the May 6 primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. 115 delegates were at stake in North Carolina, and 72 in Indiana. Polling suggested a close race in Indiana, while Obama enjoyed the advantage in North Carolina thanks in part to the state's large African-American population – a demographic from which Obama was receiving strong support throughout the primary season. Indiana's demographic makeup appeared to favor Clinton, as the state was predominantly white, rural and culturally conservative. Clinton won states like Ohio and Pennsylvania largely because of just such a voter base. However, there were positive signs for Obama as well.

Obama won in North Carolina, capturing 56% of the vote, while Hillary Clinton finished with 42%, according to CNN. The Indiana race was much closer than expected, with Clinton, winning a 51% to 49% victory. These races were seen as Clinton's last chance to make a comeback in the nomination fight. As the results came in, ABC political analyst and former top Bill Clinton aide George Stephanopolous declared the Democratic race "over," and NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert said, "We now know who the Democratic nominee will be." The day after these primaries, it appeared that superdelegates and party leaders were beginning to coalesce around Obama. He added four superdelegate endorsements to Clinton's one, and former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern switched his support from Clinton to Obama.

Obama continued to add to his superdelegate lead in the week before the May 20 Kentucky and Oregon primaries, and former Democratic candidate John Edwards endorsed him on May 14. As Obama's chance at becoming the nominee increased, he decided to focus much of his attention on general election battleground states. He planned to watch the Kentucky and Oregon results in Iowa, and scheduled an appearance in Florida for later that week.

While campaigning in Oregon, Obama drew a crowd of 75,000, his largest crowd of the campaign season.

Obama won Oregon, 59% to Clinton's 41%, but lost Kentucky by a margin of 35%. Delegates accrued in these two contests gave him an absolute majority among pledged delegates.

After a Clinton victory on June 1 in the Puerto Rico primary, only one more day of primaries remained. June 3 saw the final votes of the primary season in Montana, which Obama won by 58-40 percent, and South Dakota, which Clinton won by 55-45 percent. Throughout the course of the day, a flood of superdelegates endorsed Obama, putting him over the top in terms of delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

On June 7, Clinton formally ended her candidacy and endorsed Obama, making him the party's presumptive nominee.

On July 6, 2008, during an interview with Fox News, a microphone picked up Jesse Jackson whispering to a fellow guest: "See, Barack's been talking down to black people ... I want to cut his nuts off." Jackson was expressing his disappointment in Obama's Father's Day speech chastisement of Black fathers. Only a portion of Jackson's comments were released on video. A spokesman for Fox News stated that Jackson had "referred to blacks with the N-word" in his comments about Obama; Fox News did not release the entire video or a complete transcript of his comments. Jesse Jackson, Jr. issued a statement that said "Reverend Jackson is my dad, and I’ll always love him. . .I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself." Jackson, Jr. took the statements very seriously because he had worked so hard as the National co-chair of the Barack Obama presidential campaign. Subsequent to his Fox News interview, Jackson, Sr. apologized and reiterated his support for Obama.

While Clinton was viewed as having an institutional advantage in amassing superdelegates by virtue of her fifteen years of national prominence in party politics, Obama had heavily outspent Clinton in previous contributions to superdelegates through their political action committees.

Speculation that Barack Obama had amassed about fifty additional superdelegates, removing Clinton's final advantage in the race, was reported on the eve of the March 4 primaries and caucuses; with the Clinton victory in most of that night's contests, the Obama camp chose not to release those names as expected the following day.

After Obama's large victory in North Carolina and close second in Indiana on May 6, he took the lead in committed superdelegates. The results in those two states made Obama the clear front-runner for the nomination, and he picked up endorsements from 26 superdelegates in the week following those primaries.

On 27 August Barack Obama was awarded the Democratic presidential nomination by acclamation at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Various criticisms were made during the campaign concerning Obama's religious background and heritage, both by political opponents and by some members of the media.

In 2004, conservative columnist Andy Martin issued a press release alleging that Obama had "sought to misrepresent his heritage," indirectly triggering one of the first viral emails spreading false rumors about Obama's background.

In January 2007, two of the Obama campaign's first hires were opposition researchers, immediately assigned to debunk these e-mails.

On January 17, 2007, the day after Obama announced his candidacy, the Internet magazine Insight published an article claiming that Clinton campaign staff had told them that Obama had attended a Muslim seminary as a child in Indonesia and that they were planning to use that information against him during the upcoming primary election campaign. The Clinton and Obama campaigns quickly denounced the allegations. Investigations by CNN, ABC and others showed that Obama had not, as Insight had written, attended an Islamic seminary. Instead, for his first three years abroad Obama attended St. Francis Assisi Catholic School, and in his last year transferred to State Elementary School Menteng Besuki‎, an Indonesian public school for children of all faiths. A series of Chicago Tribune reports found that "hen Obama attended 4th grade in 1971, Muslim children spent two hours a week studying Islam, and Christian children spent those two hours learning about the Christian religion." The series also stated: "In fact, Obama's religious upbringing in Indonesia depended more on the conventions of the schools he attended than on any decision by him, his mother or his stepfather. When he was at a Catholic school for three years, he prayed as a Catholic. When he was at a public school for a year, he learned about Islam." In May 2008 Insight ceased publication.

E-mails and flyers repeating allegations about Obama and other candidates were distributed to voters in Iowa and South Carolina just before they went to vote for presidential candidates. In Iowa Obama told his supporters: “You have e-mails saying that I’m a Muslim plant that’s trying to take over America. If you get this e-mail from someone you know, set the record straight.” Sen. Clinton's campaign fired at least two campaign volunteers for forwarding related e-mails about Obama.

Obama's campaign organization responded with a letter from Christian leaders vouching for his Christian faith, as well as with appeals to supporters to help correct any misunderstanding. From November 2007 to January 2008, as part of a drive to promote awareness of his Christian faith, Obama gave interviews to Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, to Christianity Today and to the religious website Beliefnet.com. Nevertheless, the false belief that Obama is a Muslim has persisted in some key demographics, and is among the most frequently cited reasons for opposition to Obama in public polling. In polls taken in March and April 2008, between 10 and 15% of respondents believed Obama was Muslim.

Another accusation is that Obama refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance. This is based on a Time magazine picture of Obama listening to the U.S. National Anthem with his hands at his sides while the others on stage have their right hands over their hearts. He does, in fact, say the Pledge and sometimes leads the Senate in doing so.

While it campaigned in Kentucky in May 2008, the Obama campaign mailed out a flyer featuring Obama's Christianity.

Some conservative opponents of Obama featured his middle name "Hussein" and the similarity of his last name with "Osama" to suggest that he has Muslim heritage or possible associations with terrorists, or to question his loyalty to the United States (both "Barack" and "Hussein" are names of Semitic origin that mean, respectively, to bless/blessing and good/handsome). In February, 2008, the Tennessee Republican Party circulated a memo titled "Anti-Semites for Obama" that featured his middle name and showed a picture of him in African clothes while on a trip to Africa. A website, ExposeObama.com, sent out emails in early 2008 that included messages such as "President Barack Hussein Obama ... the scariest four words in the English language!" In April 2008 a church in the small town of Jonesville, South Carolina posted a message on its sign which said, "Obama, Osama — humm, are they brothers." The next day Roger Byrd, the pastor, removed the sign after receiving "so much negative comments from throughout the country." Those incidents attracted nation-wide media coverage, while not openly supported, generally condemned by the other candidates' official campaigns and by the major political parties.

In March 2008, a controversy broke out concerning Obama's 20-year relationship to his former pastor Jeremiah Wright. ABC News found and excerpted clips from racially and politically charged sermons by Rev. Wright, including his assertion that the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own terrorism and his assertion that "he government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." Some of Wright's statements were widely criticized as anti-American. Following negative media coverage and a drop in the polls, Obama responded by condemning Wright's remarks, ending his relationship with the campaign, and delivering a speech entitled "A More Perfect Union" at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the speech, Obama rejected some of Wright's comments, but refused to disown the man himself, noting his lifelong ministry to the poor and past service as a US Marine. The speech, which sought to place Wright's anger in a larger historical context, was well-received by liberal sources and some conservatives, but other conservatives and supporters of Hillary Clinton continued to question the implications of Obama's long relationship with Wright.

The story gained headlines again in late April with several public appearances by Rev. Wright. He appeared on the Bill Moyers show on PBS on April 25, spoke to the NAACP in Detroit on April 27 and addressed the media before a symposium at the National Press Club on April 28. In Detroit, Wright "also defended Obama and lashed out at the news media for running excerpts of his heated sermons, media pundits and those who have tried to connect him to Islam because of his full name — Barack Hussein Obama." At the Press Club, Wright said that Obama "had to distance himself from me, because he's a politician." He also suggested that Obama is not a regular attendee at church, and reiterated his earlier views on terrorism, the HIV virus and other issues. Obama held a press conference on April 29 in which he went further than he had in his Pennsylvania speech, appearing to disown the pastor himself rather than just his controversial remarks. Obama said he was "outraged" and "saddened" by Wright's comments, calling them "divisive and destructive." He said of Wright, "the man I saw yesterday was not the man I met 20 years ago." Obama stated, "Whatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright has changed as a consequence of this," he added.

Obama subsequently resigned his membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ following comments made during a guest sermon at the church by Catholic priest and long-term Obama friend, Michael Pfleger. During the sermon, Pfleger mocked Hillary Clinton and said that she felt "entitled" to be the Democratic nominee for President.

In February 2008, a Canadian diplomatic memo surfaced, which alleged that Barack Obama's economic advisor Austan Goolsbee had met with Canadian consular officials in Chicago and told them to disregard Obama's campaign rhetoric regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a charge the Obama campaign later denied.

The story was followed by CTV's Washington bureau chief, Tom Clark, who reported that the Obama campaign, not the Clinton's, had reassured Canadian diplomats. Clark cited unnamed Canadian sources in his initial report. Media later reported the source as Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson. There was no explanation at the time for why Brodie was said to have referred to the Clinton campaign but the news report was about the Obama campaign. Robert Hurst, president of CTV News, declined to comment.

The Prime Minister's communications director, Sandra Buckler, has said that Brodie "does not recall" discussing the issue. On March 4, 2008 Harper initially denied that Brodie was a source of the leak — but he appeared to be referring to a diplomatic memo that described the key conversation between an adviser to Obama and Canada's consul-general in Chicago, Georges Rioux. Harper did not appear to be distinguishing between the two leaks later in the day. Harper asked the top civil servant, Clerk of the Privy Council Kevin Lynch, to call in an internal security team, with the help of Foreign Affairs. Members of the opposition asserted that an internal inquiry is unlikely to look seriously at Harper's own high-level political aides and appointees, such as Brodie or Wilson, Canada's ambassador to Washington.

On March 10, 2008 Canadian MP Navdeep Bains called on Canadian Ambassador to the United States Michael Wilson to step down as Canada's ambassador to Washington while the leaks that are investigated. Wilson has publicly acknowledged that he spoke to CTV reporter Tom Clark who first reported the leaks before the story aired, but refused to discuss what was said.

There have been three separate incidents involving Barack Obama's State Department passport file since 2008 began; while the instances of unauthorized access have occurred over a three-month span, Obama was notified only on March 20, as upper levels of the State Department themselves, first became aware of the breaches.On March 21, 2008, the United States Department of State revealed that Obama's passport file was improperly accessed three times in 2008. Three contract employees are accused in the wrongdoing. One, who works for The Analysis Corporation (TAC), accessed Obama and McCain's records, and was disciplined. The two other workers, who worked for Stanley Inc., each accessed Obama's file on separate occasions and were fired. An unauthorized access of Hillary Clinton's file was also made in mid-2007, but was considered a training error and unrelated to the other instances. John O. Brennan, president and CEO of Analysis, is a consultant to the Barack Obama campaign and contributed $2,300 to the Obama campaign in January 2008. Brennan is a former senior CIA official and former interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The chairman of Stanley Inc., Philip Nolan, is a Clinton supporter and contributor; his company has had contracts with the United States Department of State since 1992 and was recently awarded a $570 million contract to continue providing support for passport processing. The State Department is focusing an internal inquiry on the TAC employee, but plans to question all three of the contractors who accessed the candidates' files.

Many commentators have noted Obama's strong support amongst social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.com. An Internet consulting site, tracking each candidate's online performance, measured Sen. Obama as the candidate that connects the most with potential voters via the Internet.

Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder and coordinator of online organizing within the Barack Obama presidential campaign, called the on-line surge backing Obama "unprecedented." As of late May, the "American Politics" application on Facebook listed Obama as the 6-1 favorite over Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, the Obama campaign was a launch partner for Facebook's new F8 platform.

One group on Facebook, "Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)," has 894,913 members as of November 5, 2008. Obama's politician page has reached more than one million supporters as of June 17, 2008. On February 2, 2007, Obama attended a rally at George Mason University organized by "Students for Barack Obama," a group that began on Facebook, with several thousand in attendance. Other countries have also registered Facebook groups in support of Senator Obama including Canada and several European countries.

Obama's official website itself incorporates networking elements which allows supporters to create their own profiles and blogs, as well as to chat and plan grassroots events. My.BarackObama.com is a social networking website created by the campaign. It was first launched on February 11, 2007, and was billed as "a MySpace for his supporters." It was built and designed by internet technology and political strategist firm Blue State Digital and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

The bulk of My.BarackObama.com's activity takes place in group and event organization, where members first create or join on-line "groups" which share common email listservs and blogs. These groups are then used to plan offline events, ranging from casual "meet ups" to large fundraising events, with those who RSVP for fundraising events via My.BarackObama.com having the option of fulfilling their fundraising promise in advance through online payment. Of the $25 million the Obama campaign raised in the first quarter of 2007, over $6 million was raised through on-line channels.

The Obama primary campaign has received publicity from the introduction of several high-profile music videos concerning the senator. The first was an off-topic parody song portraying a fictional love between Senator Obama and a provocatively-dressed young woman nicknamed "Obama Girl," entitled I Got a Crush... on Obama, first appearing on June 13, 2007. The second video was Yes We Can, after the ubiquitous Obama campaign slogan, itself originally a long-standing union chant in the US. It was released on February 2, 2008, and was a straightforward, star-studded endorsement by a range of actors, musicians and other celebrities, led by Grammy-winner Will.i.am of the Black-Eyed Peas, singing the actual words of an Obama speech following the New Hampshire primary. The video was generating over a million views on YouTube a day following its release. By March 27, 2008, the song had been viewed over 17 million times on YouTube and other sites.

The video of Obama's speech A More Perfect Union also "went viral," reaching over 1.3 million views on YouTube within a day of the speech's delivery. Links to the speech were among the most widely shared on Facebook, and by March 27, the speech had been viewed nearly 3.4 million times.

During a time when Obama was receiving negative attention from the Wright controversy and other issues, "The Empire Strikes Barack" was released, a video that featured Barack Obama as Luke Skywalker, rallying from attacks by Hillary Clinton, portrayed as Darth Vader.

Presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama has taken positions on many national, political, economic and social issues, either through public comments or his senatorial voting record.

One such position is Obama's stance on health care. Obama has repeatedly said that he wants to see that every American has the option of having affordable health care as good as every U. S. Senator has. He has proposed a major overhaul of the nation’s health care system, aimed at covering the nearly 45 million uninsured Americans, reducing premium costs for everyone else, and breaking what he asserted was “the stranglehold” that the biggest drug and insurance companies have on the health care market.

Following Obama's interview on Meet the Press, opinion polling organizations added his name to surveyed lists of Democratic candidates. The first such poll (November 2006) ranked Obama in second place with 17% support among Democrats after Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) who placed first with 28% of the responses. A Zogby Poll released on January 18, 2007, showed Obama leading the Democratic contenders in the first primary state of New Hampshire with 23% of New Hampshire Democrats supporting Obama. Senator Clinton and former Senator John Edwards were tied for second place with 19% each. A Washington Post/ABC News poll on February 26-27, 2007 placed Obama in second place with 24% among likely Democratic primary voters, with Hillary Clinton garnering 36% as the leader.

Opinion polls taken in April 2007 differ widely from each other: Obama was listed in third place nationwide, 24% behind Hillary Clinton and 2% behind John Edwards. In an April 30, 2007 Rasmussen Reports Poll, Barack Obama led the poll for the Democratic nomination for first time with 32% support. By June however, Clinton was winning all the major national polls by double digits except one that showed Obama with a one point lead, and by July, all major national polls showed Obama trailing Clinton by double digits.

Polling analysts are expected to take note of whether opinion polling statistics regarding Obama prove to be accurate, or are ultimately subject to the so-called "Bradley effect" observed in some previous American elections. This continued to be a concern in some earlier primary states, but as the season progressed Obama showed electoral success with white voters in states like Virginia and Wisconsin.

In a poll by the University of Iowa in July and August 2007 of Iowa Republicans, Obama received the third-highest percentage, with 7% of the vote - more than Republican candidates Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, and to-be nominee John McCain combined. Polls by the Washington Post and ABC News indicated that Republicans and independents were more likely than Democrats to answer that Obama would be the Democrats' best chance to win the election.

At the end of March 2008 Obama became the first candidate to open a double-digit lead in his national Gallup daily tracking poll results since Super Tuesday, when his competitor Hillary Clinton had a similar margin. On March 30 the poll showed Obama at 52% and Clinton at 42%. The Rassmussen Reports poll, taken during the same time frame, also showed an Obama advantage of five points. Another late-March poll found Obama maintaining his positive rating and limiting his negative rating better than his chief rival, Clinton. The NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll showed Obama losing two points of positive rating and gaining four points of negative rating, while Clinton lost eight points of positive rating and gained five points of negative rating. A Newsweek poll taken on April 16-17 showed Obama leading Clinton 54 to 35% among Democrats and Democrat-leaning registered voters. The Gallup daily tracking poll showed Obama's lead over Clinton in the same group peaking at 51 to 40% on April 14 (results based on interviews April 11–13), then closing, and on April 19 (results based on interviews April 16-18) Clinton gained a lead of 46 to 45%, the first time Obama had not led since March 18–20. The next day Obama showed a lead of 47 to 45% over Clinton. The following day the Obama lead over Clinton increased to 49% over 42%.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley endorsed Obama hours after his announcement, abandoning his tradition of staying neutral in Democratic primaries. A day later, Obama traveled to Ames, Iowa where he was endorsed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald. Just days before the crucial New York Democratic Primary, Obama won the endorsement of the Young Democrats Club of Pelham, a key endorsement considering 16% of the club supported Hillary Clinton. Perhaps Obama's biggest celebrity endorsement is talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who has occasionally joined Obama on the campaign trail and hosted a fundraiser at her Santa Barbara, CA estate. Following his win in South Carolina Obama received the endorsement of Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, and Senator Ted Kennedy, his brother. For the first time in its ten year history, MoveOn.org endorsed a Presidential candidate when Obama received 70% of an online ballot the organization held of its members. On February 3, 2008, another member from the Kennedy family, First Lady of California Maria Shriver, announced her endorsement for Obama. On February 26, former Democratic candidate Chris Dodd endorsed Obama, followed on March 21 by another former Democratic candidate, current New Mexico governor and retired United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson. Richardson served under President Bill Clinton as Secretary of Energy and as a United Nations ambassador. Former President Jimmy Carter stated that he supports Obama for President. On May 14, former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards endorsed Obama, hinting that he believed the race was over and that it was time to unite behind one candidate. On May 19, President pro tempore of the United States Senate Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) endorsed Obama. The 90-year old-Senate legend lauded Obama as a “shining young statesman” a “noble-hearted patriot” and a “humble Christian.” In particular, Byrd said that his shared opposition to the Iraq war with Obama was a key factor in his decision. On June 7, 2008, Sen. Hillary Clinton endorsed Sen. Obama after conceding her bid for the presidency, and even adopted his slogan "Yes We Can" into her concession speech.On 16 June 2008, Al Gore endorsed Obama in a speech given in Michigan, stating "take it from me, elections matter." Gore also endorsed Obama on his website, algore.com, and appears on Obama's website, offering an official endorsement. On October 19, 2008 during a Meet The Press interview, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Obama.

Hyatt board member Penny Pritzker served as the national finance chair of the campaign; Pritzker served on the finance committee for Obama's 2004 Senate run. Obama has said he will not accept donations from federal lobbyists or political action committees during the campaign. While he started to collect private donations for a general election account, Obama asked the Federal Election Commission if he could later return the money if he decided to take public funds. In response, the FEC allowed presidential candidates to take contributions for a general election campaign even if they later decided to accept public money.

Alan D. Solomont, who led a group that raised $35 million for John Kerry in 2004, has signed on with the campaign, saying Obama "is the sort of person America wants in the White House right now." Other fundraisers that have joined the campaign include David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Mark Gorenberg.

Obama's fundraising prowess early on matched that of Hillary Clinton's and, financially speaking, stayed competitive with her. On April 4, 2007, Obama's campaign announced that they had raised $25 million in the first quarter of 2007, coming close to Hillary Clinton's $26 million in first quarter contributions. Over 100,000 people donated to the campaign and $6.9 million was raised through the Internet. $23.5 million of Obama's first quarter funds can be used in the primary, the highest of any candidate.

Obama's fundraising skills were affirmed again in the second quarter of 2007, when his campaign received $32.5 million in donations: $5.5 million more than his nearest rival, Hillary Clinton, whose campaign raised around $27 million. Obama's 258,000 individual donors revealed his wide grassroots appeal and success raising funds via the Internet. Altogether Obama's campaign raised US$58 million during the first half of 2007, topping all other candidates and exceeding previous records for the first six months of any year before an election year.

For the third quarter of 2007, which typically sees lower numbers than the rest of the year, Obama raised $20 million, still a large amount but bested by Clinton, who led all candidates with $27 million raised. Obama's campaign reported adding 108,000 new donors through in the quarter, for a total of 365,000 individual contributors in the first nine months.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, Obama raised $23.5 million, while Clinton raised $27.3 million. By January 2008, Obama had received over 800,000 donations from over 600,000 individual donors.

The Obama campaign raised $32 million in the month of January 2008 alone, from over 250,000 separate supporters. When it was disclosed that Hillary Clinton loaned $5 million of her own money to her campaign, Obama's supporters donated over $6.5 million in less than 24 hours. When the Clinton campaign reported that it had raised over $10 million in the five days after Super Tuesday, the Obama campaign reported raising "well more" than that.

Candidate financial disclosures released following the Wisconsin and Hawaii primaries raised Barack Obama's estimated January take to $37 million, about $17 million more than the second-placed candidate Hillary Clinton. Much of her fundraising was furthermore ineligible for primary-contest spending, and her campaign is projected to have ended the month in debt by over eight million dollars, one-quarter of that being unpaid fees to consultant Mark Penn. In February, the Obama campaign surpassed the one million donor mark, a first for a competitive primary campaign in the United States and raised $55 million, setting a record for political fundraising in one month. Of the $55 million raised in February $45 million of it was contributed over the Internet—without Obama hosting a single fund-raiser.

According to reports filed with the FEC and news from the Boston Herald, by the end of the first quarter of 2008, the campaign had raised more money ($133,549,000) than it had raised in all of 2007 (103,802,537). By the end of March, Obama had raised a total of over $235 million during the course of his campaign.

On June 3, 2008, after the Montana and South Dakota primaries, Barack Obama secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination of the Democratic party for president of the United States. His opponent, Republican party nominee John McCain, passed the delegate threshold to become the presumptive nominee much earlier, on March 4. On June 7, Obama's remaining opponent in the quest for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, conceded defeat at a rally in Washington and urged supporters to back Obama.

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Political positions of Barack Obama

Barack Obama campaigning in New Hampshire, August 2007

Barack Obama has declared his position on many political issues through his public comments and his senatorial voting record.

Barack Obama's current economic advisors are Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago and Jeffrey Liebman of Harvard University.

Speaking before the National Press Club in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, associating Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security with Social Darwinism.

On April 20, 2007, Obama introduced a bill in the Senate (Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act - S. 1181) requiring public companies to give shareholders an annual nonbinding vote on executive compensation, popularly called "Say on pay." A companion bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank passed the House the same day. Several corporations voluntarily have begun to give shareholders such a vote because of concerns about excessive CEO salaries.

Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that adds penalties for labor violations and which would circumvent the secret ballot requirement to organize a union. Obama promises to sign the EFCA into law. He is also a cosponsor of the "Re-empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradesworkers" or RESPECT act (S. 969) that aims to overturn the National Labor Relations Board's "Kentucky River" 532 U.S. 706 (2001) decision that redefined many employees lacking the authority to hire, fire, or discipline, as "supervisors" who are not protected by federal labor laws.

Obama favored the increase in the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25, and he voted to end the filibuster against a bill to accomplish that. He favors raising it to $9.50 an hour by 2011, and then indexing it for inflation afterwards.

Obama favors the concept of equal pay (the abolition of wage differences based on gender). He has supported legislation designed to improve the effectiveness of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. In 2007, the House of Representatives passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, would have allowed "employees to file charges of pay discrimination within 180 days of the last received paycheck affected by the alleged discriminatory decision." The bill would have overturned the Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear. There the Court dismissed a woman's discrimination claim because she had filed it more than 180 days after the first affected paycheck. The bill died in a 2008 Senate vote in which Obama and other Democrats could not break a Republican filibuster. In the 111th congress it was passed again, and Obama signed it on January 29, 2009.

During an October 2004 debate, Obama stated that he opposed education vouchers for use at private schools because he believes they would undermine public schools.

In a July 2007 address to the National Education Association, Obama supported merit pay for teachers, to be based on standards to be developed "with teachers." Obama also called for higher pay for teachers. Obama's plan is estimated to cost $18 billion annually and was originally planned to be partially funded by delaying NASA's Constellation program for five years but he has since reconsidered and stated that he will look for "an entirely different offset." "We owe it to our children to invest in early-childhood education; and recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; and finally decide that, in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the few, but a birthright of every American." He also is against the teaching of intelligent design as scientific fact, but supports teaching theology.

Obama has proposed the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which would provide a refundable tax credit for education in exchange for community service.

In his New Energy for America plan, Obama proposes to reduce overall U.S. oil consumption by at least 35%, or 10 million barrels per day, by 2030 in order to offset imports from OPEC nations. Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which provided incentives (chiefly tax breaks) to reduce national consumption of energy and to encourage a wide range of alternative energy sources. It also resulted in a net tax increase on oil companies.

Obama and other Senators introduced the BioFuels Security Act in 2006. "It's time for Congress to realize what farmers in America's heartland have known all along - that we have the capacity and ingenuity to decrease our dependence on foreign oil by growing our own fuel," Obama said. In a May 2006 letter to President George W. Bush, he joined four other midwest farming state Senators in calling for the preservation of a $0.54-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol.

On the issue of nuclear power, in 2005, Obama stated, "... as Congress considers policies to address air quality and the deleterious effects of carbon emissions on the global ecosystem, it is reasonable – and realistic – for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration. Illinois has 11 nuclear power plants – the most of any State in the country – and nuclear power provides more than half of Illinois’ electricity needs." Regarding McCain's plans for 45 new nuclear power plants, Obama said that it's not serious, it's not new, it's not the kind of energy policy that will give families the relief they need. Obama declared himself flatly opposed to building the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

Obama and other Senators introduced a bill in 2007 to promote the development of commercially viable plug-in hybrids and other electric-drive vehicles in order to shift away from petroleum fuels and "toward much cleaner – and cheaper – electricity for transportation". Similar legislation is now in effect in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Obama proposes that the U.S. Government invest in such developments using revenue generated from an auction-based cap-and-trade or emissions trading program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama stresses innovation as a means to improve energy efficiency, calling for a 50% improvement by 2030. He has called for a 50 miles per US gallon (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp) rule, proposing tax credits to automakers in order to ease the transition.

He opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

On June 22, 2008 Obama proposed tightening regulations on oil speculators in an effort to ease record high prices of oil. "My plan fully closes the Enron loophole and restores common-sense regulation," Obama said.

On January 24, 2007 Obama spoke about his position on health care at Families USA, a health care advocacy group. Obama said, "The time has come for universal health care in America I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country." Obama went on to say that he believed that it was wrong that forty-seven million Americans are uninsured, noting that taxpayers already pay over $15 billion annually to care for the uninsured. Obama cites cost as the reason so many Americans are without health insurance. Obama's health care plan includes implementing guaranteed eligibility for affordable health care for all Americans, paid for by insurance reform, reducing costs, removing patent protection for pharmaceuticals, and required employer contributions. He would provide for mandatory health care insurance for children.

In July 2008 The New York Times reported that Senator Obama has promised to “bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family.” His advisers have said that the $2,500 premium reduction includes, in addition to direct premium savings, the average family's share of the reduction in employer paid health insurance premiums and the reduction in the cost of government health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The Associated Press reported in September 2008 that Senator Obama was proposing a National Health Insurance Exchange that would include both private insurance plans and a Medicare-like government run option. Coverage would be guaranteed regardless of health status, and premiums would not vary based on health status either. The campaign estimates the cost of the program at $60 billion annually. The plan requires that parents cover their children, but does not require adults to buy insurance.

Obama opposes the Health Care Choice Act.

According to an October 26, 2008 article in the New York Times, Obama is considering a new payroll tax on large and medium employers who do not already provide their employees with health insurance, and this tax would be used to pay for health care for uninsured people, but Obama has not cited the specific percentage of payroll that the tax would be, or how small a number of employees the employer would have to have in order to be exempt from the tax.

Obama voted for the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Obama introduced the Stop Fraud Act to increase penalties for mortgage fraud by mortgage brokers and real estate brokers and to provide more protections for low-income homebuyers.

In regards to capital gains on house sales, Obama says he favors increasing capital gains tax above the present 15% rate to 20% for families whose income is above $250,000.

In a June 2006 podcast, Obama expressed support for telecommunications legislation to protect network neutrality on the Internet, saying: "It is because the Internet is a neutral platform that I can put out this podcast and transmit it over the Internet without having to go through any corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship or without having to pay a special charge. But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the Internet as we know it." Obama reaffirmed his commitment to net neutrality at a meeting with Google employees in November 2007, at which he said, "once providers start to privilege some applications or web sites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose." At the same event, Obama pledged to appoint a Chief Technology Officer to oversee the U.S. government's management of IT resources and promote wider access to government information and decision making.

Under Obama's plan, middle-class families would see their income taxes cut, with no family making less than $250,000 seeing an increase. However, he did vote for a budget in June 2008, that would raise the taxes on single people with a taxable income of over $32,000 by pushing up their tax bracket from 25% to 28%. Obama has proposed a tax plan which includes tax credits to lower the amount of taxes paid. It is argued that the typical middle-class family would receive over $1,000 in tax relief, with tax payments that are 20% lower than they faced under President Ronald Reagan. According to the Tax Policy Center, the Obama plan provides three times as much tax relief for middle-class families as the McCain plan.

Families making more than $250,000 would pay either the same or lower income tax rates than they paid in the 1990s. For the wealthiest 2% of families, Obama plans to reverse a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years. But no family will pay higher income tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s. Dividend rates would be 39 percent lower than what President George W. Bush proposed in his 2001 tax cut.

Obama’s plan is to cut income taxes overall, which he states would reduce revenues to below the levels that prevailed under Ronald Reagan (less than 18.2 percent of GDP). Obama argues that his plan is a net tax cut, and that his tax relief for middle class families is larger than the revenue raised by his tax changes for families over $250,000. Obama plans to pay for the tax changes while bringing down the budget deficit by cutting unnecessary spending.

Speaking in November 2006 to members of Wake Up Wal-Mart, a union-backed campaign group, Obama said: "You need to pay your workers enough that they can actually not only shop at Wal-Mart, but ultimately send their kids to college and save for retirement." His tax plan is projected to bring in an additional $700 billion in taxes over the next 10 years.

In The Audacity of Hope and the Blueprint for Change Obama advocates responding to the "precarious budget situation" by eliminating "tax credits that have outlived their usefulness", closing corporate tax loopholes, and restoring the PAYGO policy that prohibits increases in federal spending without a way to compensate for the lost revenue.

During an October 13, 2008 speech at Toledo, Ohio, Obama said that for the next two years, he favors a $3,000 tax credit to businesses for each new full time employee whom they hire above the number in their current work force.

In response to a possible shortfall in Social Security funding, Obama has endorsed imposition of a new FICA tax on incomes above $250,000. Currently, income above $102,000 is exempt from such taxation. Obama has opposed Bush's proposal for privatization of Social Security.

Obama has spoken out numerous times against the influence of lobbying in the United States. He also co-sponsored legislation that limits lobbyists' influence by mandating that lawmakers pay full charter fare when flying on lobbyists' corporate jets.

On January 24, 2007, in reference to his stated plan to take public financing should he procure the nomination, he said, "I think that for a time, the presidential public financing system works." On November 27, he said, "I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election," and on February 28, 2008, he wrote that he planned to "aggressively pursue" a publicly financed campaign, later promising to sit down with John McCain to ensure "a public system" of campaign financing is preserved. However, on June 19, 2008, he opted out of public campaign financing and declared, "I support a robust system of public financing of elections (...) but the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken." Furthermore he has maintained that he will not take contributions from federal lobbyists and special interests during his 2008 presidential campaign.

According to his website, Obama would create an online database of lobbying reports, campaign finance filings and ethics records, and would create an independent watchdog agency to oversee congressional ethical violations.

In September 2006, Obama voted for the Secure Fence Act, authorizing the construction of 700 miles (1,100 km) of fencing along the United States–Mexico border.

Obama has supported granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

In June 2007, Obama voted against declaring English as the official language of the federal government.

Obama writes in his most recent book, The Audacity of Hope: "Affirmative action programs, when properly structured, can open up opportunities otherwise closed to qualified minorities without diminishing opportunities for white students." In July, Obama stated, "I am a strong supporter of affirmative action when properly structured so that it is not just a quota, but it is acknowledging and taking into account some of the hardships and difficulties that communities of color may have experienced, continue to experience, and it also speaks to the value of diversity in all walks of American life." He has indicated support for affirmative action based on class, not just race, (q.v. redistributive change) in comments where he said that his daughters should be treated by prospective colleges and employers as people that grew up with a privileged background.

Barack Obama made critical statements about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during the Democratic primaries, calling the trade agreement "devastating" and "a big mistake". In February 2008, a Canadian diplomatic memo surfaced, which alleged that Obama's economic advisor Austan Goolsbee had met with Canadian consular officials in Chicago and told them to disregard Obama's campaign rhetoric regarding NAFTA, a charge the Obama campaign later denied (see Barack Obama presidential primary campaign, 2008#NAFTA controversy). Obama also noted that free trade comes with its own costs: he believes the displacement of Mexican farmers by more efficient American counterparts has led to increased immigration to the United States from that country.

On October 13, 2008, Obama said that he wanted Congress to double its guaranteed loans to the U.S. automobile industry from $25 billion to $50 billion.

During the speech Obama called for an expansion of the United States Armed Forces "by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines", an idea previously introduced by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Barack Obama is currently advised on foreign policy by a support group of approximately 300 people organized into 20 teams based upon subject. A core group of advisors, led by Susan E. Rice and Anthony Lake, filters hundreds of papers and messages daily to provide the Senator with more concise positions on foreign policy and more specific reactions to international developments. Obama's foreign policy advisers have included Richard Danzig, Mark Lippert, Gregory Craig, Dennis McDonough, Daniel Shapiro, Scott Gration, Sarah Sewall, Ivo Daalder, Jeffrey Bader, Mark Brzezinski, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Clarke, Roger Cressey, Philip Gordon, Lawrence Korb, James Ludes, Robert Malley, Bruce Riedel, Dennis Ross, Mona Sutphen, and Samantha Power (resigned March 7, 2008).

The United States is trapped by the Bush-Cheney approach to diplomacy that refuses to talk to leaders we don't like. Not talking doesn't make us look tough — it makes us look arrogant, it denies us opportunities to make progress, and it makes it harder for America to rally international support for our leadership. Obama is willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe. He will do the careful preparation necessary, but will signal that America is ready to come to the table, and that he is willing to lead.

I'll turn the page on a growing empire of classified information, and restore the balance we've lost between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in a democratic society by creating a new National Declassification Center. We'll protect sources and methods, but we won't use sources and methods as pretexts to hide the truth.

Obama proposes giving the Director of National Intelligence a fixed term independent of Presidential control as one means of depoliticizing the intelligence process and reforming the U.S. intelligence community. In a 2007 article appearing in Foreign Affairs, Obama wrote, "...we should institutionalize the practice of developing competitive assessments of critical threats and strengthen our methodologies of (intelligence) analysis.

He originally opposed efforts to include any legal immunity, especially retroactive immunity, for government officials and telecommunications firms alleged to have taken part in the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program as part of legislation to modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. However, on June 20, 2008, Obama issued a statement saying that he would support the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 passed the previous week by the House of Representatives, although he would attempt to have a retroactive immunity provision included in the bill removed before it came to a Senate floor vote. Obama's decision to vote in favor of a bill containing an immunity provision attracted criticism from some of his activist supporters. Obama voted for an amendment to strip retroactive immunity from the bill, but the amendment failed to pass. On July 9, he voted for the entire FISA amendments bill which still included retroactive immunity.

On April 23, 2007 Barack Obama addressed the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and called for an expansion of the United States Armed Forces "by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines", an idea previously introduced by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and "providing them with the first-rate equipment, armor, training, and incentives they deserve"; despite his incentives to slow the development of Future Combat Systems. This plan was eventually manifest in the form of the Grow the Army initiative.

Although he opposes reviving the military draft, Obama favors changing the Selective Service requirements so that women as well as men must register at age 18.

Obama announced a plan — if elected — to deploy an additional 7,000 troops to Afghanistan. "As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan" "We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there" "I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq," Obama said on July 14, 2008.

After meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on July 25 as part of a world tour, Obama said in the joint news conference with Sarkozy, "Afghanistan is a war that we have to win" because al-Qaeda and the radical Islamic Taliban movement cannot be allowed to establish new havens for planning "terrorist attacks . . . that could affect Paris or New York." Obama declared that there were no effective options to this policy, saying, "So we don't have a choice; we've got to finish the job." Obama said the United States "needs to send two additional brigades at least" to Afghanistan and praised Sarkozy for his willingness to send more French troops to that country.

Obama paid tribute to South Africa's ANC fight for freedom, saying they taught lessons to the world and helped inspire his own political career. "If it wasn't for some of the activities that happened here, I might not be involved in politics and might not be doing what I am doing in the United States," he said.

In a nationally televised speech at the University of Nairobi, he spoke forcefully on the influence of ethnic rivalries and corruption in Kenya. The speech touched off a public debate among rival leaders, some formally challenging Obama's remarks as unfair and improper, others defending his positions.

Obama expressed his concerns about the growing number of systematic sexual assaults against women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since Congo Civil War erupted. In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the The Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act, the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor, which identifies such systematic sexual violence as a particular threat in Congo.

On January 19, 2008 Obama announced that as a U.S. Senator, he has stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide, and supports its recognition. In 2006, Obama criticized Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for firing United States Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he used the term "genocide" to describe Turkey's killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians. Obama said that he shared with Evans his "firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence".

On June, 2008 Obama restated his commitment to U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide in a letter to ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. "I share your view that the United States must recognize the events of 1915 to 1923, carried out by the Ottoman Empire, as genocide. As you know, this resulted in the deportation of nearly 2,000,000 Armenians, of whom 1,500,000 men, women, and children were killed", wrote Obama.

In 2007 Obama supported House Resolution 106 which recognized the killings as genocide.

In an August opinion piece in the Miami Herald, he stated: "A democratic opening in Cuba is, and should be, the foremost objective of our policy." He then went on to note: "We need a clear strategy to achieve it – one that takes some limited steps now to spread the message of freedom on the island, but preserves our ability to bargain on behalf of democracy with a post-Fidel government." More to the point, his administration would recognize that "bilateral talks would be the best means of promoting Cuban freedom." In a speech before the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami Obama hardened his position, vowing to maintain the economic embargo against Cuba and not to begin normalizing relations with the US until the island nation took "significant steps towards democracy" including the "freeing of all political prisoners". He characterized his position as "strong, smart, and principled" diplomacy.

According to Hillary Clinton's written statement during her Senate confirmation hearings for Secretary of State, Obama believes in lifting the restrictions on Cuban-Americans making visits and sending cash to their familes in Cuba. She reaffirmed that he has no current intention to remove the embargo itself.

Obama appealed to China on grounds of co-operation and increased friendship following Obama's election victory on November 4th 2008. On November 8th 2008, Hu Jintao and Barack Obama had a phone conversation in which the Chinese President congratulated Obama on his recent election victory. During the conversation both parties agreed that the development of US-China relations is not only in the interest of both nations, but also in the interests of the world.

During his 2004 Senate campaign, Obama stated that he had not ruled out military action against Iran. In a meeting with the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Obama stated: "The big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures, including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point are we going to take military action, if any?" Obama stressed that he would only use force as a last resort. Obama has not declared a change in this stance since the 2004 campaign. In 2006, he called on Iran to "take some ownership for creating some stability" in Iraq.

In June 2008, Obama called Iran the greatest threat in the Middle East. "There's no greater threat to Israel or to the peace and stability of the region than Iran," Obama said on June 4, 2008.

After meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on July 25 as part of a world tour, Obama issued his strongest warning yet to Tehran with Sarkozy at his side. Obama urged Iran to "end its illicit nuclear program" or face increased pressure from a unified international community, saying that the Iranian government should not "wait for the next president" before accepting proposals to resolve the current stalemate with Western countries.

Obama said that the world faced an "extraordinarily grave situation" from Iran's pursuit of a uranium enrichment program, which the United States and its allies fear could be used eventually to build nuclear weapons. Obama said that he had found "uniform concern about Iran" in his meetings with leaders in the Middle East and Europe on his trip.

During a July 2004 interview reported by The New York Times when asked how he would have acted in regard to the Iraq resolution in 2002, Obama answered "What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made" and that he was "not privy to Senate Intelligence reports," using it as a reason to support John Kerry and John Edwards in the 2004 election. Obama defended his words on a later edition of Meet the Press saying that he made the statement because it was during the middle of an election in which his party's presidential nominees had both voted to authorize the war and noting that he was openly opposed to the war as early as 2002.

Speaking before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in November 2006, he said: "The days of using the war on terror as a political football are over. It is time to give Iraqis their country back, and it is time to refocus America's efforts on the wider struggle yet to be won." In his speech Obama also called for a phased withdrawal of American troops starting in 2007, and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Iraq's neighbors, Syria and Iran.

Obama has not supported cutting funding to the war as a way to end U.S. involvement in the conflict. He stated that, "Once we were in, we were going to have some responsibility to try to make it work as best we can". Obama was however one of 14 senators who voted against the successful passage of H.R.2206 in May 2007, a bill meant to provide continued funding for the Iraq war free from any withdrawal deadlines.

Although Obama had previously said he wanted all the U.S. troops out of Iraq within 16 months of becoming President, after he won the primary, he said he might "refine" that promise.

Obama said he would set a goal of having all U.S. combat brigades out of Iraq by summer 2010 and shift more resources to fighting Taliban in Afghanistan. "We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months" "That would be the summer of 2010 -- two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began," Obama said on July 14, 2008.

Obama will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries.

In his first formal television interview as President, Barack Obama addressed the Muslim world through an Arabic-language satellite TV network Al-Arabiya. He expressed interest and a commitment to repair relations that have continued to deteriorate under the previous administration. He called for a new partnership with the Muslim world, "based on mutual respect and mutual interest." The American envoy to the region is former Sen. George J. Mitchell.

In an address on national security to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on August 1, 2007, Obama stated that as President he would consider military action in Pakistan in order to attack al-Qaeda, even if the Pakistani government did not give approval. Obama said, "I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America." He also said "As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to reinforce our counter-terrorism operations".

On August 1, 2007 Obama declared in a foreign policy speech that the United States must be willing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan, with or without the consent of the Pakistani government. He said, "If we have actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will". On the same day in response, then-White House press secretary Tony Snow highlighted the policy's shift from the position established by the Bush Administration, he said: "Our approach to Pakistan is one that not only respects the sovereignty of Pakistan as a sovereign government, but is also designed to work in a way where we are working in cooperation with the local government".

After weeks of discourse surrounding the policy, Obama said there was misreporting of his comments, saying that, "I never called for an invasion of Pakistan or Afghanistan." He clarified that rather than a surge in the number of troops in Iraq, there needs to be a "diplomatic surge" and that if there were "actionable intelligence reports" showing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the U.S. troops as a last resort should enter and try to capture terrorists. That would happen, he added, only if "the Pakistani government was unable or unwilling" to go after the terrorists.

Obama has said that he would hold Pakistan accountable for the massive military aid it has received from Washington if he were elected to the White House. He said his administration will increase pressure on Pakistan to come to terms with terrorist safe havens along its northern border with Afghanistan. He noted that the US was providing Pakistan military aid which he said was being misused by that country to prepare for a war against India.

The Almanac of American Politics (2008) rated Obama's overall social policies in 2006 as more conservative than 21% of the Senate, and more liberal than 77% of the Senate (18% and 77%, respectively, in 2005).

In his write-in response to a 1998 survey, Obama stated his abortion position as conforming with the Democratic platform: "Abortions should be legally available in accordance with Roe v. Wade." However, throughout the course of his candidacy, Obama has avoided labelling himself as either Pro-Life or Pro-Choice. In August of 2008, in Lake Forest, California, Obama said, "Whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade." Throughout much of the campaign, Obama had managed to maintain the middle ground on the issue.

Obama opposed the Induced Infant Liability Act. Obama is reported to have opposed it because of technical language that might have interfered with a woman's right to choose and because Illinois law already required medical care in such situations.

Obama voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, saying "On an issue like partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. All I've said is we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother, and many of the bills that came before me didn't have that." Obama voted against a bill that made it a federal crime for anyone other than a parent to accompany a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion. The bill was signed into law by President Bush in 2005. Obama has, however, expressed support of bans on late-term abortions, provided they include exemptions for the life or health of a mother.

Obama voted for a $100 million education initiative to reduce teen pregnancy and provide contraceptives to young people.

Obama was the only Democratic presidential candidate to issue an unsolicited statement expressing his views on disability community issues. For example, he stated his intention to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and expressed his support of the ADA Restoration Act.

The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.

He has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 by creating a market-based cap-and-trade system. Obama also has plans for improving air and water quality through reduced carbon emissions.

Obama worked as a member of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works during the 109th Congress. According to the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Obama has made pro-environment votes on 10 of 15 congressional resolutions documented in the 2007 National Environmental Scorecard. The resolutions in the listed by the scorecard for the first session of the 110th Congress include energy legislation regarding fuel efficiency and clean/renewable energy, oil refineries, undermining renewable electricity, offshore drilling, liquid coal, biofuels, water resources, population, farming subsidies, and eminent domain. His lifetime environmental voting percentage given by the LCV in 2007 is 86 which dropped from the previous year due to four absences that count negatively on the LCV scorecard. In his recent presidential campaign Obama rejected John McCain's proposed suspension of federal gas taxes claiming it would hurt consumers, hinder highway construction, and endanger jobs. Obama criticized the idea of a gas tax "holiday" as a ploy by his rivals "designed to get them through an election" and not actually help "struggling consumers".

Obama has stated, "The bond that I would like to create between an Obama administration and the nations all across this country...is something that is going to be a top priority." Obama added that "few have been ignored by Washington for as long as native Americans – the first Americans" and that "too often Washington has paid lip service to working with tribes while taking a one-size-fits-all approach" and promised "that will change when I am president".

Obama is the first presidential candidate to have been given honorary membership into a Native American tribe, the Crow Nation. At a private adoption ceremony, Obama was given the Crow name "One Who Helps People Throughout the Land".

Obama opposes offering reparations to the descendants of slaves. "I have said in the past — and I'll repeat again — that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed," Obama said. An apology for slavery would be appropriate but not particularly helpful in improving the lives of African Americans, he said. Reparations could also be a distraction, Obama said. "I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds," Obama told a meeting in Chicago in July 2008.

Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment which would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman, but stated in a 2008 interview that he personally believes that marriage is "between a man and a woman" and that he is "not in favor of gay marriage." He supports civil unions that would carry equal legal standing to that of marriage for same-sex couples, but believes that decisions about the title of marriage should be left to the states. Following the 2008 elections, it was reported that Obama had formerly supported same-sex marriage. He has called for the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Obama stated on March 15, 2007, that "I do not agree...that homosexuality is immoral." During the July 23, 2007 CNN/YouTube debate, Obama further stated that "... we've got to make sure that everybody is equal under the law. And the civil unions that I proposed would be equivalent in terms of making sure that all the rights that are conferred by the state are equal for same-sex couples as well as for heterosexual couples." Obama supports expanding the protections afforded by hate crimes statutes to cover crimes committed against individuals because of sexual orientation or gender identity. He has also stated his opposition to the United States' military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, and has affirmed his intention to repeal it during his Presidency.

Obama was criticized for inviting Reverend Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary and Reverend Hezekiah Walker — who all have a history of making anti-gay remarks — to participate in a three-day gospel music campaign tour called "Embrace the Courage", as part of Obama's "40 Days of Faith and Family" campaign in South Carolina. The Obama campaign responded to criticism in a press release, saying, "I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as president of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division." For events held Sunday, October 28, 2007, Obama added Reverend Andy Sidden, an openly gay pastor.

As a state legislator in Illinois, Obama supported banning the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic firearms, increasing state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms and requiring manufacturers to provide child-safety locks with firearms.

In 1996, during Obama's run for the Illinois State Senate, he was surveyed by a Chicago nonprofit, Independent Voters of Illinois about criminal justice and other issues. Obama's questionnaire showed that he supported a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns. Subsequently, Obama denied that his writing was on the document and said that he never favored a ban on the sale and possession of handguns. In 1999, he urged prohibiting the operation of any gun store within five miles of a school or park, which according to gun-rights advocates would eliminate gun stores from most of the inhabited portion of the United States. He sponsored a bill in 2000 limiting handgun purchases to one per month.

As state senator, he voted against a 2004 measure that allowed self-defense as an affirmative defense for those charged with violating local laws making it otherwise unlawful for such persons to possess firearms. He also voted against allowing persons who had obtained domestic violence protective orders to carry handguns for their protection.

From 1994 through 2002, Obama was a board member of the Joyce Foundation, which amongst other non-gun related activities provides funds for gun control organizations in the United States.

While in the U.S. Senate, Obama has supported several gun control measures, including restricting the purchase of firearms at gun shows and the reauthorization of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Obama voted against legislation protecting firearm manufacturers from certain liability suits, which gun-rights advocates say are designed to bankrupt the firearms industry. Obama did vote in favor of the 2006 Vitter Amendment to prohibit the confiscation of lawful firearms during an emergency or major disaster, which passed 84-16.

During a February 15, 2008 press conference, Obama stated, "I think there is an individual right to bear arms, but it's subject to commonsense regulation." Obama has also stated his opposition to allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms and supports a national law outlawing the practice, saying on Chicago Public Radio in 2004 "I continue to support a ban on concealed carry laws".

After being elected as President, Obama announced that he favors measures that respect Second Amendment rights, while at the same time keeping guns away from children and criminals. He further stated that he wants to close the gun-show loophole and make guns childproof, and that he supports reinstating the expired Assault Weapons Ban and making it permanent.. On February 25, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration will seek a new assault weapons ban across the United States, claiming that it would have a positive impact on the drug-related violence in Mexico.

On June 25, 2008, Obama condemned United States Supreme Court decision Kennedy v. Louisiana, which outlawed the death penalty for a child rapist when the victim was not killed. He said that states have the right to consider capital punishment, but cited concern about the possibility of unfairness in some sentences.

Obama voted in favor of the 2006 version of the USA PATRIOT Act. He voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and later voted to restore habeas corpus to those detained by the U.S. (which had been stripped by the Military Commissions Act). He has advocated closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but has not supported two specific bills that would have done so. Obama still opposes the use of torture and used to oppose warrantless domestic wiretaps by the U.S. He voted against the Flag Desecration Amendment in 2006, arguing that flag burning didn't justify a constitutional amendment, but said that he would support a law banning flag burning on federal property. As of August 8, 2008, the ACLU has given Obama a score of 80% on civil liberty issues for the 110th Congress U.S. Senate.

As noted above, Obama voted to reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Act, which extended the Act, but with some amendments. Such amendments would clarify the rights of an individual who has received FISA orders to challenge nondisclosure requirements and to refuse disclosure of the name of their attorney.

He voted against extending the USA PATRIOT Act’s Wiretap Provision on March 1, 2006. This bill would give the FBI the authority to conduct “roving wiretaps” and access to business records. Voting against this bill would prolong the debate, keeping the USA PATRIOT Act provisional whereas voting for this bill would extend the USA PATRIOT Act as permanent.

Obama had previously opposed legislation that granted legal immunity for telecommunications companies that helped the Bush administration to conduct wiretaps without warrants but later voted in favor of a compromise bill that included such provisions.

Obama has encouraged Democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other church-going people, saying, "if we truly hope to speak to people where they’re at—to communicate our hopes and values in a way that’s relevant to their own—we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse." He supports separation of church and state and contends that: "I also think that we are under obligation in public life to translate our religious values into moral terms that all people can share, including those who are not believers. And that is how our democracy’s functioning, will continue to function. That’s what the founding fathers intended." In July 2008, Obama said that if elected president he would expand the delivery of social services through churches and other religious organizations, vowing to achieve what he said President Bush had fallen short on.

Obama supports embryonic stem cell research and was a co-sponsor of the 2005 Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act which was passed by both houses of Congress but vetoed by President Bush. Obama condemned Bush's veto, saying, "Democrats want this bill to pass. Conservative, pro-life Republicans want this bill to pass. By large margins, the American people want this bill to pass. It is only the White House standing in the way of progress - standing in the way of so many potential cures." He also voted in favor of the 2007 bill lifting restrictions on embryonic stem cell research that was passed but was also vetoed by President Bush.

Residents of Washington, D.C. do not have voting representation in Congress. Instead, residents are afforded a non-voting delegate in the House and do not have any representation in the Senate. Barack Obama supports "full representation in Congress" for residents of the District of Columbia. As a Senator, Obama co-sponsored the failed Voting Rights Act of 2007, which would have granted the District of Columbia full voting representation in the House.

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Presidential transition of Barack Obama

Living presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and then-President-elect Barack Obama at the White House Oval Office on January 7, 2009

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. The results were certified by a joint session of Congress on January 8, 2009, and the transition ended when he was inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2009.

The Obama transition organization was called the Obama-Biden Transition Project. The transition team was convened during the height of the campaign, well before the outcome could be known, to begin making preparations for a potential administration. It was co-chaired by John Podesta, who was Bill Clinton's fourth and last White House Chief of Staff and the president/chief executive officer of the Center for American Progress, Valerie Jarrett, who is one of Obama's longest-serving advisers, and Pete Rouse, former Senate chief of staff for Tom Daschle and more recently for Obama.

On November 5, the General Services Administration declared that Obama was the "apparent winner," making him eligible to receive transition funding and other government services, and granting him access to their 2008 Presidential Transition Headquarters in Washington, D.C.. Podesta estimated that the transition would employ approximately 450 people and have a budget of about $12 million: $5.2 million would be paid by the federal government and the remaining $6.8 million would be funded by private sources, with each contribution limited to $5,000. The transition project would not accept money from political action committees or federal lobbyists.

On November 5, Obama announced his complete transition team, which was organized as a nonprofit tax-exempt organization under U.S. federal tax code 501(c)(4). The advisory board consisted of Carol Browner, William M. Daley, Christopher Edley, Michael Froman, Julius Genachowski, Donald Gips, Janet Napolitano, Federico Peña, Susan Rice, Sonal Shah, Mark Gitenstein and Ted Kaufman.

Joshua Gotbaum and Michael Warren headed the transition of the Treasury Department. In addition, Thomas Donilon and Wendy Sherman oversaw the transition of the State Department. Finally, John P. White and Michele Flournoy lead the transition of the Defense Department.

In mid-October, the George W. Bush administration convened a 14-member council to coordinate with and brief the winning campaign's transition team. The New York Times reported that White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten then planned to recruit his predecessor, Andrew Card, to oversee the activity. On November 6, Obama received his first classified intelligence briefing from Director of National Intelligence John Michael McConnell and Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden.

President Bush invited Obama to attend the 2008 G-20 Washington summit held between November 15 and 20, however Obama's transition team instead sent former Republican Rep. Jim Leach and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to meet with the delegations. Obama was expected to address a United Nations global warming summit in Poland in December or allow a representative such as Al Gore to present his policies.

On November 10, Obama traveled to the White House and met with President Bush to discuss transition issues while First Lady Laura Bush took his wife Michelle on a tour of the mansion. NBC News reported that Obama advanced his economic agenda with Bush, asking him to attempt to pass a stimulus package in a lame duck session of Congress before the inauguration. He also urged Bush to accelerate the disbursement of $25 billion in funds to bail out the automobile industry and expressed concern about additional Americans losing their homes as mortgage rates increase again.

At the time of their election, President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden were incumbent U.S. Senators from Illinois and Delaware respectively. In accordance with Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution, both were required to resign their respective Senate seats on or before January 20, 2009, in order to become President and Vice President.

Obama resigned from the Senate effective November 16, 2008. Initially, it was thought that his replacement would be named by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Since the term for the seat expires in January 2011, it would come up for its normal election in 2010 with no special election necessary. Blagojevich was expected to name Obama's immediate successor in the Senate by January 3, 2009. However, on December 9, 2008, the status of Obama's succession in the Senate was cast in doubt after Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges which included allegedly attempting to sell the appointment. Although placed in federal custody and released on $4,500 bail, as long as he remains governor Blagojevich continues to have sole authority to make the appointment. Several Democrats, including Sen. Dick Durbin, have asked the Illinois General Assembly to schedule a special election instead.

Speaking through a surrogate, Obama called for Blagojevich's resignation on December 10. Had Blagojevich resigned or been removed from office before making the appointment, the duty would have fallen to Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who would succeed Blagojevich as governor. However, Illinois Senate president Emil Jones said that he would call the Senate back into session to write a law that would result in Obama's replacement being determined in a special election.

However, after the state legislature did not pass a law mandating a special election for the seat, on December 30, Blagojevich announced that he was appointing Roland Burris, a former Illinois Attorney General, Illinois Comptroller, and U.S. Treasury Department official, to the seat, citing his constitutional duty in the absence of a law requiring a special election. Blagojevich, Burris, and Representative Bobby Rush urged the public to consider the qualifications of Burris as a public servant and not the scandals in which Blagojevich was embroiled. However, the Senate Democrats released a statement in which they reaffirmed that they would refuse to seat anyone appointed to the seat by Blagojevich, as that individual would be an ineffective representative of Illinois because of "questions of impropriety." Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rush, have expressed their support for seating Burris, who would be the only African-American in the Senate; Rush compared a Senate rejection of Burris to a lynching. However, President-elect Obama released a statement condemning the appointment and again calling on Blagojevich to resign. In addition, the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, reiterated that he would not certify any appointment made by Blagojevich, although at the time it was not clear whether this could prevent Burris from taking office. Furthermore, the Senate might not actually have been able to refuse to seat Burris, as he met all constitutional requirements for the office and was not involved in the Blagojevich corruption scandal (per the U.S. Supreme Court decision Powell v. McCormack).

On January 9, 2009, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in the case Burris v. White that the appointment only required the signature of the governor, and not that of the Illinois Secretary of State, in order to be valid, and that the state of Illinois is not required to use the Senate's recommended certification form, as it is only "recommended" under the Standing Rules of the United States Senate. The Court further remarked that "no explanation has been given as to how any rule of the Senate, whether it be formal or merely a matter of tradition, could supercede the authority to fill vacancies conferred on the states by the federal constitution". Following the ruling, White provided Burris with a certified copy of the appointment's registration, and Burris delivered that copy, that bears the State Seal, to the Secretary of the Senate. His credentials declared valid, Burris was finally sworn in on January 15, 2009, by outgoing President of the Senate Dick Cheney.

Biden had indicated that he would remain in the Senate until he was sworn in as Vice President on January 20, 2009. Although he was sworn in for a seventh Senate term in early January 2009, he resigned from the seat on January 15, 2009, having served just over 36 years in the body.

On November 24, 2008, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner announced that Ted Kaufman would serve as Biden's appointed replacement. Kaufman was sworn in on January 16, 2009.

A special election for the remainder of Biden's term, which expires in January 2015, will be held in 2010. Kaufman has indicated he will not be a candidate in the special election, increasing speculation that Biden's son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, will run at that time.

During his abbreviated final term in the Senate Biden went on a diplomatic fact-finding trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, becoming the first Vice-President-elect to undertake such a mission before entering office.

On November 5, 2008, the transition team launched change.gov, the official website of the transition.

The website included a blog and jobs page. It also had a section that allowed visitors to share stories or their visions for the country. Visitors were able to comment on issues important to them using the Citizen's Briefing Book. Individuals applying for work within the Obama administration via this site were required to go through intensive consumer and criminal background checks performed by the ChoicePoint Corporation. The website used a Creative Commons license.

As part of their efforts towards transparency, on December 5 the transition team announced that "all policy documents from official meetings with outside organizations will be publicly available for review and discussion on Change.gov." After the inaguration, many of the functions of change.gov were transferred to a redesigned White House website.

Thirty-one of the appointments to the transition team had previously worked in the Clinton administration, including Podesta, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Biden's Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

Obama held near daily press conferences as President-elect to announce his administration nominees to the public. He introduced the nominees and occasionally took questions from the press regarding issues such as economic difficulties and the War in Afghanistan.

The appointments of Lawrence Summers and Timothy F. Geithner to key economic positions were criticized, on grounds that they had been prominently involved in creating many of the conditions that led to the Financial crisis of 2007–2008, so "failure is being rewarded". Summers was a leading advocate of the derivatives deregulation, together with Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin, and during his transition to Secretary of the Treasury, the act which kept commercial banks out of Wall street, the Glass-Steagall Act, was repealed. Geithner instead was criticized for his failure to pay $34,000 in income taxes.

Eric Holder appointment for Attorney General raised concerns, due to his role in the last-minute pardon issued by Bill Clinton for fugitive financier Marc Rich.

At one time or another, reliable reports indicated that the cabinet and top advisers of the Obama administration would include the following people. There was one withdrawal, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, whom Obama had named Secretary of Commerce. Richardson's administration is currently the subject of a federal corruption probe; while maintaining that his administration was responsible for no wrongdoing, he withdrew so as to prevent a lengthy confirmation process from hindering the work of the U.S. Department of Commerce. A replacement is yet to be named.

Obama named Tim Kaine as new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, replacing Howard Dean who has clashed with Obama and his advisors in the past.

The Obama administration also created a new position of Federal Chief Technology Officer . The administration narrowed the position to two finalists, both Indian American, for the position: Padmasree Warrior (CTO of Cisco) and Vivek Kundra (Chief Technology Officer for the city of Washington, D.C.).

Initial reaction to Obama's choice of Leon E. Panetta as CIA director was mixed, with some intelligence professionals expressing concern that Panetta lacked specific intelligence experience, and others such as former Congressman and co-chair of the Iraq Study Group Lee Hamilton praising the choice.

Obama's developing presidential agenda was divided into domestic and foreign policy issues. In most cases, this agenda involved addressing crises already underway. His principal strategic decisions concerned how quickly to move bills through Congress. Some of his advisors suggested moving quickly, as Franklin D. Roosevelt did in 1933, under the belief that a more moderate approach would waste valuable time early in his presidency, when his political capital will be strongest. Others suggested moving more slowly, as Bill Clinton did before his attempt to enact a national healthcare program, based on the notion that rapid change could quickly wear down any bipartisan consensus. He was expected, in any case, to issue a series of executive orders within days of his inauguration, including a reversal of Bush-era executive orders restricting funding to family planning (including abortion) services and stem-cell research. There was also a possibility that new cabinet level advisory post would be created overseeing the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The economic agenda under development initially focused on short-term measures intended to hold off widespread economic losses so that a longer-term economic agenda could then be formulated. That approach subsequently shifted to a longer-term stimulus plan, with a goal of creating 2.5 million jobs over a two year period. With a cost of $700 to $800 Billion, the stimulus plan would cost more then a quarter million dollars per job created (divide 750 billion by 2,500,000 yielding $300,000). In a nationally televised interview on December 7, he acknowledged that his agenda has changed over the past month, and that a short-term stimulus package had again become his first priority. He wanted to emphasize "shovel ready" infrastructure projects to create new jobs quickly. Barack Obama said he hoped to sign the stimulus package into law soon after taking office on Jan. 20.

Obama's most immediate concern was an economic stimulus proposal that some Congressional Democrats had advocated. Like previous stimulus packages, that proposal was demand-side (Keynesian) in nature. It would likely consist of increased funding for unemployment benefits, the Food Stamp Program, and infrastructure projects, rather than tax rebates. In fact, Obama claimed to be planning “the largest infrastructure program in roads and bridges and other traditional infrastructure since the building of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s.” However, he also emphasized his plans to "green" the federal government by updating heating and lighting systems in federal buildings, as well as significant investment in technology initiatives such as mandatory electronic medical records, improved computers in schools, and universal availability of broadband Internet access.

Obama also planned to push for a program to spend $150 billion over 10 years to develop new renewable energy sources. This money would also be used to encourage energy conservation and help the auto industry develop fuel-efficient vehicles. However, Mother Jones reported that the Windfall Profits Tax on oil companies which he frequently cited during the campaign had been dropped from the agenda early in the transition.

According to the transition's website, Obama also hoped to rekindle volunteerism by expanding AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and also creating a new Classroom Corps. Other volunteer efforts reportedly include a Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Middle and high school students would be asked to do 50 hours of community service work a year. College students would be eligible for $4,000 in tuition tax credits in exchange for community service work. Improved volunteerism programs aimed at senior citizens were projected, as well as augmented Youth Build and Head Start programs.

On December 5, Tom Daschle, who was designated to lead Obama's efforts for health care reform, announced a month-long campaign to solicit public input on the shape of that reform. People were encouraged to hold community meetings to discuss the issue, and to post their thoughts on www.change.gov, where over 10,000 comments had already been posted. Although Democratic leaders had meet in private for several months to prepare a legislative package for unveiling in January, Daschle was anxious to avoid the appearance that the transition was working behind closed doors to create a sweeping agenda for change.

This technique, developed by grass roots organizations like MoveOn.org, was designed to reinforce the notion that Obama intended to aggressively pursue his health care reform agenda despite the worsening economy. "President-elect Obama has made health reform one of his top priorities, and I'm here to tell you that his commitment to changing the healthcare system remains strong and focused," said Daschle.

During a news conference on December 11, 2008, Obama linked health care reform to the upcoming economic stimulus package, noting that "It's not something that we can sort of put off because we're in an emergency." "This is part of the emergency." He expected the stimulus legislation to include a $40 billion increase in Medicaid spending over two years, plus a massive investment in health information management technology. Consideration was also being given to funding for retraining medical workers, expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and expansion of the COBRA provisions which allow unemployed workers to purchase health insurance through their previous employer's plan.

One of the principal foreign policy issues that Obama ran on during the presidential campaign concerned his promise to withdraw most American troops from the Iraq War within sixteen months of his inauguration. Another issue concerned the three areas of foreign policy that President Bush had been focusing on during the final months of his term: Iran's nuclear development, North Korea's nuclear arsenal, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. In all three cases, a diplomatic structure had already been established, although some of the Bush Administration's goals might differ from those Obama would adopt as president.

In the Middle East, Bush began a new approach to the peace process, the so-called Annapolis process, which attempts to encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to agree on the outlines of a peace accord. Although both sides cite some success in these discussions, critics believe the talks have unduly ignored Hamas, which has been labeled as a terrorist organization, despite the fact that it holds an enormous amount of political power in the region. Obama had not specified what his approach would be, although it was considered likely that he would appoint a high-level Middle East envoy, in part to free his Secretary of State so that other matters can also be addressed. Hamas expressed a willingness to talk to Obama, who has said that he will reciprocate only if it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and agrees to abide by past agreements. The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, has said the Hamas government would accept a Palestinian state that followed the Green Line and would offer Israel a long-term truce if Israel recognises the Palestinians' national rights.

During his second term, Bush pursued an agreement with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons programs. To prevent a collapse in the process, Bush agreed to remove North Korea from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, which Obama supported. Obama has criticized Bush for taking so long to engage with North Korea and has indicated that he would be eager to engage in a more proactive diplomatic effort, in order to reach an agreement. A senior North Korean official recently told reporters that "we are ready to deal" with the incoming Obama administration.

Obama also deliberated on how to deal with Iran. Outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had assembled a coalition of six states -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States -- to confront Iran. While the group won approval from the United Nations, Iran largely ignored its demands. While Obama had previously advocated carefully-planned direct talks with Iran, he was now being seen as likely to build on the current coalition in order to broker an agreement with Iran.

In addition, Obama formulated a policy to deal with the U.S. missile defense shield that was under construction in Poland. He discussed the matter with both Polish President Lech Kaczyński and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. While his advisors were working on a missile shield policy, his position at that time was simply that one might be deployed if and when it has been "proved to be workable".

Obama also planned to revoke a series of executive orders enacted by Bush which would have the effect of overturning a practice that many critics have labeled as torture against "detainees". This would include requiring the CIA to abide by the Army Field Manual when interrogating prisoners. Resistance was expected, however, from some in the Intelligence Community, regarding the practicality of a complete revocation of these orders. He was also hoping to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, although issues were expected to arise in such a plan because many of the detainees have been held without evidence or have been coerced in their confessions, which would not be admissible in a federal court.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was retained in the Obama Administration, outlined an agenda for reform of the Department of Defense. His ideas centered on a perceived need to shift purchasing priorities away from costly high tech weapons, and toward lower cost alternatives which are more appropriate for the wars the U.S. was currently fighting, as well as those which he believed might lie in the immediate future. He noted that there are limits to U.S. military power, and believed that the emphasis should be shifted away from fighting, and toward training, advising and equipping allied forces to fight.

Appointees recruited by Obama with experience on energy policy included Peter Orszag, an expert on cap and trade programs, who was named as director of the Office of Management and Budget. John Podesta, transition chief, was an early advocate of Detroit's refocus on using lower carbon alternatives to gasoline.

The Secret Service, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was the lead agency for both security and logistics for the Inaugural Ceremony. Their plan was to open the event to as many spectators as possible. Security was expected to be strict, and vast portions of downtown Washington would be closed to all traffic. Initially, it was thought that up to 4 million people would descend upon the area of the National Mall, but later reports from the Secret Service suggested that the number might not be that high. Arrangements for 8000 police officers were made, however, and parking for up to 10,000 tour buses was arranged. A Metro spokesperson warned that the subway system "will be utterly overwhelmed." Camping was not permitted on the mall.

On November 13, 2008, the Secret Service announced that Obama's codename would be "Renegade". In addition, his wife's is "Renaissance" and his daughters' are "Rosebud" and "Radiance".

The first family visited both Sidwell Friends School and Georgetown Day School before deciding on Sidwell. The residential transition began with the first of two interim stop at the Hay-Adams Hotel on January 4. The second interim stop was a move to Blair House on January 15, the traditional interim move date for Presidents-elect. The residential transition began earlier than for most incoming Presidents because the daughters began school at Sidwell on January 5. During the campaign, Michelle Obama had stated that the residential transition would be planned to be as unified as possible for all members of the family. Michelle's mother, Marian Robinson, made plans to move into the White House to assist with child care. In the current real estate market, the Obamas did not intend to sell their South Side Chicago home that sits on the border between the Hyde Park and Kenwood community areas.

Jenna and Barbara Bush had lots of advice for Malia and Sasha Obama. The Bush twins sent the Obama daughters an open letter that was published in The Wall Street Journal.

The outgoing Bush family did not take much with them as they left the White House. Among the things that they left behind was their $492,798 Lenox gilt-edged style with a green basket weave border official state china service. This was in contrast to their predecessors, the Clintons. However, things that they did not take with them can be included in the collection of the Presidential Library. Vice President Dick Cheney was injured moving out of his residence just before the inauguration and used a wheelchair during the ceremony.

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Inauguration of Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama taking his Oath of Office - 2009Jan20.jpg

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth President of the United States took place on 20 January 2009. The inauguration, with 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 Joseph Biden as Vice President. With his inauguration as President of the United States, Obama became the first African American to hold the office and the first president born in Hawaii. The theme of the 56th inauguration was "A New Birth of Freedom," commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

The inauguration celebration began on January 17, 2009, with a train ride from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Official events were held in Washington, D.C., from January 18 to 21, 2009, including the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, a day of service on the federal observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a "Kids' Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert event at the Verizon Center, the inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, an inaugural luncheon at National Statuary Hall, a parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, 10 inaugural balls at the Washington Convention Center and elsewhere, a private White House gala and an inaugural prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral.

The 2009 inauguration activities began with a train ride to commemorate Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States and a former Illinois politician, by partially re-enacting Lincoln's 1861 train ride to Washington, D.C. On January 17, 2009, Obama began the tribute by holding a town hall meeting at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia before embarking on the train ride. Obama reached Wilmington, Delaware to pick up Vice President-elect Biden in the Georgia 300, a railroad car used by past presidents. Obama and Biden then continued to Baltimore, Maryland where Obama spoke to a crowd of around 40,000 people. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prevented private planes, news helicopters, balloonists and others from flying near the airspace above the train route. Obama and Biden arrived at Union Station in Washington, D.C. at 7:00 p.m. EST. The tour included his trademark rejoinder "I love you back" responses to enthusiastic crowds. More than 40 American citizens were selected to participate in the train ride and other inaugural events such as the parade, the swearing in and an inaugural ball.

Lincoln began the first phase of his train tour in Springfield, Illinois on February 11, 1861, and arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 21, 1861. In the second phase of the tour, Lincoln traveled to his 1861 inauguration in Washington, D.C. by chartered train from Philadelphia, stopping in 70 places along the way.

A January 18 inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, entitled "We Are One," featured performances by Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Jon Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renée Fleming, Caleb Green, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, Bettye Lavette, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, U2, Usher, Will.I.Am and Stevie Wonder.

Attendance at the concert was free to the public, and HBO broadcast the concert on an open feed, meaning that anyone with cable television could watch. An estimated 400,000 people attended. Jack Black, Steve Carell, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Foxx, Tom Hanks, Ashley Judd, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah, Laura Linney, George Lopez, Kal Penn, Marisa Tomei, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker and Tiger Woods read historical passages. The Washington Metro recorded 616,324 passenger trips during the day, breaking the old Sunday ridership record of 540,945, set on July 4, 1999.

Obama and Biden participated in community service activities for the national day of service, and the Presidential Inauguration Committee also provided information through its website about how to host community service projects, along with information about a broad range of national service organizations. More than 11,000 community service events occurred across the nation on the day.

On January 19, the presidential motorcade departed at 8:33 a.m. EST from Blair House and headed to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Obama spent a little more than an hour meeting privately with troops (and family members) who were recovering from wounds sustained in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

After the visit at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Obama and Martin Luther King, III headed to the Sasha Bruce House homeless shelter for teens in Washington, D.C., while Jill and Ashley Biden, Michelle Obama, and Obama's daughters Malia and Sasha, along with hundreds of volunteers, spent the morning at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium where they helped fill 60,000–85,000 care packages destined for U.S. troops overseas. After a morning of service activities, the Obamas and Bidens met for lunch at Coolidge High School, a public high school in N.W. Washington, D.C. Joe Biden spent part of his day hanging drywall at a Habitat for Humanity home in N.E. Washington, D.C., as others continued to perform numerous service activities throughout the city on that day. That evening, Obama hosted three separate bipartisan dinners, honoring the service of John McCain, Colin Powell and Joe Biden.

On the evening of January 19, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden hosted the "Kids' Inaugural: We Are the Future" event at the Verizon Center. Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brothers honored military families in concert. The show was broadcast live on the Disney Channel and on Radio Disney. Other celebrity participants included Demi Lovato, Bow Wow, Corbin Bleu, Queen Latifah, Billy Ray Cyrus, Shaquille O'Neal, and Jamie Foxx. In keeping with the service theme of the day, Michelle Obama issued a call for kids to become engaged in public service by volunteering in homeless shelters, visiting elderly people or writing letters to U.S. troops.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies released the full schedule of the January 20 swearing in ceremonies on December 17, 2008. The inauguration schedule referred to the president-elect as "Barack H. Obama", even though Obama had specified previously that he wanted to be referred to by his full name, "Barack Hussein Obama".

After the inaugural ceremony, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden escorted former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush to a departure ceremony on the east side of the U.S. Capitol. The Obamas and Bidens then attended an inaugural luncheon in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol before traveling from there to the presidential reviewing stand at the White House to view the parade.

The inaugural ceremony took place at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2009. The inaugural program started at 8:00 a.m. EST (13:00 UTC) with the playing of two hours of pre-recorded music of the "The President's Own" United States Marine Band, followed by the playing of live music by the United States Marine Band starting at 10:00 a.m. EST (15:00 UTC). The National Mall, stretching to the Lincoln Memorial, served as the public observation area to witness the inaugural ceremony, and a section of the Mall between 3rd and 4th Streets, NW was reserved for ticket holders. The event was planned by the United States Congress Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and its chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein, acted as the day's emcee.

The program by the congressional leaders included vocalist Aretha Franklin singing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" and a performance of John Williams' composition "Air and Simple Gifts," which was both pre-recorded and performed live synched with the recording by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill. Other participants included the "The President's Own," the United States Marine Band, and the United States Navy Band. The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus also performed at the ceremony. Evangelical pastor Rick Warren delivered the invocation, while civil rights activist Joseph Lowery, minister of the United Methodist Church, delivered the benediction.

After the performance of "Air and Simple Gifts," Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to President Obama shortly after noon. Although the inaugural ceremony ran longer than scheduled, which also delayed the administering of the oath that finished around 12:05 p.m. EST (17:05 UTC), Obama assumed the presidency at the expiration of President Bush's term at noon under the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Obama, while Michelle Obama held the Bible that was used in 1861 by Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration. Obama mentioned several weeks earlier that he intended to use his full name for his swearing-in ceremony, including his middle name Hussein, in "follow the tradition, not trying to make a statement one way or the other." His middle name had caused some controversy during the election campaign when detractors tried to imply falsely that he was a Muslim.

As Obama had requested previously, Roberts ended the presidential oath with the phrase "so help you God," and Obama responded "so help me God." Roberts congratulated Obama as the new President at the end of the oath.

The administration of the oath included several missteps, although there are conflicting news accounts about the exact sequence of events. According to one report, as Roberts administered the first part of the presidential oath, he paused after saying "I, Barack Hussein Obama." As Obama began to repeat those words, Roberts continued on with the oath by reciting "do solemnly swear," interrupting the President. According to a different news report, it was Obama who interrupted Roberts during his recitation of the first part of the oath.

Following the completion of the first phrase of the presidential oath, Roberts recited the next part of the oath incorrectly, by saying, "that I will execute the Office of President to the United States faithfully" (rather than "that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States"). Obama recited the words "I will execute," and then paused awkwardly. Roberts then tried to correct his mistake in administering the oath by reciting "faithfully the Office of President of the United States." However, Obama repeated Roberts' first incorrect phrase.

A central theme of President Barack Obama's inaugural address was a call to restore responsibility — both in terms of accountability in Washington and the responsibility of ordinary people to get involved. Obama's address did not have memorable sound bite phrases; instead, he used traditional references to connect his new administration with the nation's history in a speech that was understated deliberately, according to rhetoric expert James Mackin.

Obama concluded the second paragraph of his address by saying, "we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers and true to our founding documents." The speech reinforced words such as "legacy" and "heritage," as well as values such as "honesty," "courage" and "patriotism," which "are old." Near the end of the speech, Obama referred to words written by Thomas Paine in The American Crisis, which were ordered by George Washington to be read to his troops: "Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet ." Because Obama's campaign message focused on the need for change, Mackin noted that Obama sought to reassure Americans that he would operate as President within the margins of the nation's traditions.

Obama's address was received with mixed reviews. Some described the tone as one of restraint and plain speaking, others described it as low-brow and cliched. Despite his optimism, Obama was critical of both Bush and Clinton. David E. Sanger of The New York Times described the speech as the harshest rebuke of an outgoing President during an inaugural address since Franklin Roosevelt's call for restoration of American values. The Bush administration was upset about the tone of the speech, which they said proceeded directly from that of a ritualistic but respectful thanks to that of a public diatribe. Republican voices viewed the speech as a missed opportunity to seek unity. However, Rahm Emanuel described the speech as a reflection of the mandate of the people.

Before the luncheon and in keeping with tradition, President Obama entered the President's Room in the Capitol building, where he signed his first Presidential orders. The first order signed by President Obama was a proclamation "declaring a day of national renewal and reconciliation." During the historic signing, Obama joked about his left-handedness and also quipped, "I was told not to swipe the pen." He also signed orders officially presenting his Cabinet and several sub-Cabinet officials to Congress for their approval.

Obama then joined several congressional guests for the inaugural luncheon in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Guests, who included top Washington lawmakers as well as former Presidents and Vice Presidents, were served duck and pheasant with Pinot Noir. The theme of the luncheon was based on Obama's 2009 inaugural theme, "A New Birth of Freedom," which commemorated the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. The red and white china were copies of those used in the Lincoln White House.

A luncheon at the Capitol has been part of the inaugural program since 1953 (before that, the luncheon was usually held at the White House and hosted by the outgoing President and First Lady). The menu for the inaugural luncheon often featured dishes that were representative of the home states of the new President and Vice President, with the 2009 menu including seafood stew, a pheasant and duck dish and apple cinnamon sponge cake with sweet cream glacé for dessert. Since 1985, a painting has been chosen to serve as a backdrop for the head table. In 2009, the featured painting was Thomas Hill's 1865 View of the Yosemite Valley, a painting that commemorated Abraham Lincoln's 1864 signing of the Yosemite Grant, which was the first time the federal government protected park lands for public use.

During the luncheon, Senator Ted Kennedy collapsed after he suffered a seizure, and he was transported to a hospital for medical treatment and recovery. Early reports about the medical emergency suggested erroneously that Senator Robert Byrd also fell ill during the luncheon. These reports were later denied, and he eventually explained that the Kennedy incident disturbed him and caused him to leave.

The inaugural parade traveled along Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. from the U.S. Capitol, ending at the north face of the White House. During the parade, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama twice exited their limousine on Pennsylvania Avenue and walked a portion of the parade route to the cheers of the crowds in attendance, and their second walk ended just before the gate to the White House. During the parade, the President and First Lady traveled in the new armored limousine for most of the parade route because of potential security threats.

Vice President Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, also walked the parade route at several points with their children Beau, Hunter, and Ashley. Beau Biden, Attorney General for the state of Delaware and a JAG officer in the Delaware Army National Guard, received a special furlough from serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom to participate in the ceremonies.

The parade lasted more than two hours during the afternoon and early evening following the inaugural ceremony. Parade participants included 15,000 people, 240 horses, dozens of marching bands, two drum and bugle corps and a mariachi band. President Obama invited the Drum Corps International nine-time world champion Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps and eight-time finalist Colts Drum and Bugle Corps from Dubuque, Iowa, as well as the VMI corps of cadets and the high school marching band from Punahou School, Obama's high school in Hawaii, to perform in the inaugural parade.

Vice President Joe Biden also invited several groups from Delaware to march in the parade. The Delaware section was led by the Delaware Volunteer Firemen's Association of which Biden is an honorary member, followed by the marching band of Biden's alma mater, the University of Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens, known as The Pride of Delaware, and the Delaware State University Hornets marching band, known as The Approaching Storm.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended 10 official inaugural balls during the evening of January 20, 2009. For the inaugural balls, Barack Obama wore a new tuxedo, the first one that he purchased in 15 years. The tuxedo was made by Hart Schaffner Marx, a Chicago-based menswear firm that uses union labor. Michelle Obama wore a white, one-shouldered, sleeveless gown designed by 26-year-old New York designer Jason Wu, breaking with tradition set by former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton who showcased designers from their hometowns.

After they made their rounds at the inaugural balls, the Obamas hosted an after-midnight gathering at the White House for 70 of their earliest supporters, close friends and family, including Oprah Winfrey, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Rep. Artur Davis, Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Michelle Obama's brother Craig Robinson. Members of the Illinois congressional delegation also attended the after hours White House celebration, including Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Melissa Bean, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Rep. Jerry Costello.

On January 21, 2009 at 10:00 a.m., President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attended an inaugural prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral. The Obamas and Bidens were joined by the former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, in the front pew. The service also was attended by about 3,200 other invited guests, including members of the U.S. Congress, diplomats and other leaders.

The featured sermon for the inaugural prayer service was delivered by Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the first woman to deliver the featured sermon for the interfaith inaugural event. In her own sermon, Rev. Watkins integrated passages from a variety of interfaith sources, such as passages summoned from Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Cherokee sources.

Former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and former vice presidents Walter Mondale, Dan Quayle, Al Gore and Dick Cheney, along with their wives, attended the inauguration. Cheney was wheelchair-bound due to an accident that he incurred while moving boxes. Invitations were also sent to the chiefs of diplomatic missions to the United States and their spouses, but not to any other representatives of foreign countries. As a result, North Korea's offer to send a senior envoy was rejected.

The Tuskegee Airmen were among the invited guests for the inauguration. The five-person crew of recently crashed US Airways Flight 1549, including pilot Chesley Sullenberger, were also invited.

Eighty-seven year old Sarah Obama led a group of Obama's Kenyan relatives from his father's home village of Kogelo. Other relatives traveling to Washington from Kenya as guests included Obama's aunt, Maggie Obama, and an uncle, Said Obama as well as his half-brother Malik Obama. The Kenyan relatives were expected to present Barack Obama with traditional Kenyan gifts, including a three-legged stool usually given to Luo tribal elders, a fly whisk crafted from goat hair and a warrior shield. Sarah Obama previously attended Obama's swearing-in ceremony as U.S. Senator in 2005.

For the swearing-in ceremony, members of the 111th U.S. Congress also distributed 240,000 color-coded tickets with yellow, orange, blue, purple and silver borders to guests and constituents to view the inaugural ceremony from reserved sections at or near the U.S. Capitol. Tickets with silver borders were distributed to the public by House and Senate congressional members by lottery or on a first-come, first served basis because of the overwhelming requests from constituents to attend the inaugural ceremony.

Amid the massive crowds who arrived at the U.S. Capitol to attend the inaugural ceremony, approximately 4,000 ticket holders were unable to gain attendance to their designated area because the security gates were closed at the start of the ceremony, leaving many of them outside of the Capitol grounds. Some were stuck in underground tunnels where pedestrian traffic was directed to and from the National Mall. Stranded ticket holders with access to radios or cell phones with Internet reception were able to listen to the inaugural ceremony on those devices.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, launched an investigation to address complaints by the ticket holders who were prevented from gaining entry to view the inaugural ceremony. On January 22, 2009, a spokesperson for the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies also announced that holders of blue, purple and silver tickets who were unable to enter the Capitol grounds to view the inaugural ceremony would receive commemorative items. The commemorative items included a copy of the swearing-in invitation and program, photos of President Obama and Vice President Biden and a color print of the inaugural ceremony.

No official count was taken of the number of people attending the inauguration ceremony, although multiple sources concluded it was the highest attended event ever held in Washington, D.C. Government agencies and federal officials that coordinated security and traffic management determined the attendance count to be 1.8 million, based on information collected by several cameras and individuals on the ground. The Washington Post reported the number and the National Park Service said it did "not contest" the estimate.

Satellite analyst Allison Puccioni of IHS Jane's estimated a crowd size of between 1.031 and 1.411 million people, using an image acquired by the GeoEye-1 satellite at 11:19 a.m. EST (16:19 UTC). This estimate did not include an estimated 240,000 people in designated ticket holder areas or in federal buildings open to the public. However, Arizona State University professor Stephen Doig estimated that 800,000 people attended the inauguration ceremony using the same satellite image. Although the image was taken a little less than 45 minutes before Obama’s swearing-in, Doig adjusted his estimate to include people who were still arriving in the area before the swearing-in ceremony. In spite of his crowd estimate, Doig stated that "if I had to bet, I would say the Obama crowd is in fact bigger than those that showed up for or any of the other things" ... "I'm wholly prepared to think it was the largest crowd." Approximately 1.2 million people had attended the Lyndon B. Johnson 1965 presidential inauguration.

The District of Columbia police force temporarily doubled in size with the addition of 8,000 police officers from around the United States. The police force was assisted by 1,000 FBI agents to provide security for the event, and the Secret Service Countersniper team was assigned to hidden locations throughout the area. Ten thousand National Guard troops were also on site, including the 153rd Military Police Company of the Delaware National Guard with 5,000 troops providing security duty in a ceremonial capacity and 1,300 unarmed troops aiding Park Police in crowd control at the National Mall. C Company of the 1-175 INF provided security between the first and second public viewing areas of the National Mall at the 7th Street intersection, while the remaining members performed other security functions. The FAA maintained airspace restrictions over Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was chosen as the designated survivor to ensure continuity of government in case of catastrophe, and he spent inauguration day at a U.S. military installation outside of the Washington, D.C. area.

No one from the crowds at the inaugural ceremony and parade was arrested as of 6:00 p.m. Inauguration Day, which a federal agent said was unusual for a crowd of that size.

Security concerns were also an issue about extending the closing time beyond the normal 2:00 a.m. weekday and 3:00 a.m. EST Friday and Saturday closing times for bars and restaurants that served alcoholic beverages. In response to the concerns of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Robert Bennett, the D.C. City Council approved legislation signed by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty that adopted 4:00 a.m. EST as the closing time.

Nielson television ratings indicated that 29.2% of televisions in the 56 largest media markets in the United States were tuned to the inauguration, the largest audience since Ronald Reagan's first inauguration in 1981 and nearly double the viewership of the 2005 inauguration of George W. Bush. Of the top 10 media markets in terms of viewership, four were in North Carolina, two were in Virginia and one was in Maryland, with the Washington D.C. market ranking second highest in viewership.

As measured between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST, U.S. television viewership for the Obama inaugural events achieved an average of 37.8 million viewers (not including online viewers who watched live streaming video of the events) across the 17 broadcast and cable channels. Television viewership was lower than that of the 1981 Reagan inaugural festivities, however, which averaged 41.8 million viewers.

Obama's inauguration also resulted in a surge of Internet traffic to news and social networking websites and a record number of video streams. The technology company Akamai reported that 5,401,250 web users logged on news sites in less than one minute, the fifth highest peak among news websites since the company started tracking data in 2005. During at-peak usage, news websites served seven million simultaneous video streams, which was the most simultaneous video streams in Akamai's history.

The BBC reported downtime during its own live video feed of the inaugural event because of heavy traffic at its website. At one point, the heavy website traffic caused the BBC video feed to cut out for 30 minutes, with web visitors seeing the message "Please come back later" instead of the live video footage. CNN reported that it generated more than 21 million video streams by 3:30 p.m. EST that day, an all-time record, in addition to receiving 136 million page views that day.

The international community paid unprecedented attention to the inauguration of Barack Obama. Millions of people, including citizens of the respective countries and American expatriates living in those countries, watched the Obama inauguration live on television and the Internet. In some countries, the Obama inauguration garnered as much viewership as the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Kenya's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Moses Wetang'ula, commented that the inauguration marked “a moment of great pride for Kenya.” Obama's father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born in Kenya and lived there for all but six years of his life. Obama still has relatives living in the country. Many celebrations occurred across Kenya, and in some areas, streets were even deserted during the inauguration.

Barbados offered free public viewings of the Obama inauguration on large screens in at least three locations throughout the country, including the Kensington Oval sports stadium, the George Washington House and the Bridgetown Hilton Hotel. Americans in Antigua Guatemala held a party featuring Obama's favorite music.

In Canada, the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada released a statement: "On behalf of all Canadians, I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Barack Obama as he assumes office as President of the United States of America and wish him and his administration well as they begin their new term in office. We also send our warmest wishes to our American neighbours as they celebrate this historic day with their friends around the world. I am delighted that the President has accepted our invitation to make Canada the destination of his first international visit. The United States remains Canada’s most important ally, closest friend and largest trading partner and I look forward to working with President Obama and his administration as we build on this special relationship." Governor General Michaëlle Jean also gave a speech to mark the Obama inauguration during a Youth Dialogue held at Rideau Hall, the governor general's residence.

Indonesians and Americans in Jakarta watched the inauguration at a free midnight ball, featuring performances by students from State Elementary School Menteng 01, which Obama attended as a child.

The city of Obama, Fukui in Japan celebrated the inauguration with fireworks, bell-ringing, and hula-dancing at the Hagaji Temple. The mayor of Obama expressed interest in having President Obama visit the city. Elsewhere in Japan, the Associated Press reported that Okinawans were hopeful that the new President would take actions on issues associated with U.S. military bases in Okinawa, and several news organizations reported that Japanese citizens were hopeful that Obama might make significant steps towards eliminating nuclear weapons.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë and United States Ambassador to France, Craig Roberts Stapleton, hosted a viewing party for approximately 1,000 people at the landmark Hôtel de Ville.

In Berlin, about 1500 guests attended the inaugural ball held in the "Goya" club, possibly the largest outside of the United States.

Pope Benedict XVI sent President Obama a telegram for his presidential inauguration day.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown heralded the inauguration saying: "The whole world is watching the inauguration of President Obama, witnessing a new chapter in both American history and the world's history. He's not only the first black American president but he sets out with the determination to solve the world's problems." In the UK, the inauguration was also shown to housemates competing in this years' Celebrity Big Brother, breaking the rules of isolation from the outside world. London held an inauguration ball for an estimated 1,300 attendees. Other viewing parties, including a luau in Cambridge, were held across the United Kingdom, which is home to 300,000 Americans.

Derek Sikua, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, congratulated Barack Obama after his inauguration on behalf of the government and people of the Solomon Islands. Sikua noted that Americans originate in all corners of the world, including the Solomon Islands, and noted that Solomon Islanders will pray that God will continue to give Obama strength, wisdom and good people to support him in endeavours for his country and for the world.

As of January 30, 2009, Obama's 2009 Presidential Inauguration Committee raised more than $53 million, with at least 458 people giving the committee-imposed maximum amount of $50,000, including George Soros, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ron Howard, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and Lisa Henson, daughter of Jim Henson.

Unlike political campaigns, an individual or corporation could contribute to an inaugural celebration without legal restrictions on the amount of the donation. However, Obama's Presidential Inauguration Committee, which included Penny Pritzker, John W. Rogers, Jr., Pat Ryan, William Daley and Julianna Smoot as members, set a $50,000 contribution limit. To underscore its commitment to change business as usual, the inauguration committee did not accept donations from PACs, federally registered lobbyists and corporations. In spite of its commitment, the committee did accept donations from individuals who had active lobbying interests but were not classified as registered lobbyists, such as executives from Google and Microsoft executives Eric Schmidt and Steve Ballmer.

In 2005, numerous corporations contributed $250,000 to the second inauguration of George W. Bush, which cost an estimated $42.3 million not including security costs. Obama's inauguration was expected to cost $45 million from Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee and "near $50 million" from Washington, D.C. for security costs. Some estimated costs soared to more than $150-170 million for Washington, D.C. and more than $11 million for neighboring states such as Maryland.

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Source : Wikipedia