2008 presidential campaign
On February 10, 2007, Obama formally announced his candidacy for president of the United States. A victory in the Iowa primary made him a viable challenger to the early frontrunner, the former first lady and current New York Senator Hillary Clinton, whom he outlasted in a grueling primary campaign to claim the Democratic nomination in early June 2008. Obama chose as his running mate Joseph R. Biden Jr. Biden had been a U.S. senator from Delaware since 1972, was a one time Democratic candidate for president and served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obamas opponent was long time Arizona Senator John S. McCain, a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war, who chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. If elected, Palin would have been the nations first ever female vice president.As in the primaries, Obamas campaign worked to build support at the grassroots level and used what supporters saw as the candidates natural charisma, unusual life story and inspiring message of hope and change to draw impressive crowds to Obamas public appearances, both in the U.S. and on a campaign trip abroad. They worked to bring new voters many of them young or black, both demographics they believed favored Obama to become involved in the election.
A crushing financial crisis in the months leading up to the election shifted the nations focus to economic issues, and both Obama and McCain worked to show they had the best plan for economic improvement. With several weeks remaining, most polls showed Obama as the frontrunner. Sadly, Obamas maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died after a battle with cancer on November 3, the day before voters went to the polls. She had been a tremendously influential force in her grandsons life and had diligently followed his historic run for office from her home in Honolulu.On November 4, lines at polling stations around the nation heralded a historic turnout and resulted in a Democratic victory, with Obama capturing some Republican strongholds (Virginia, Indiana) and key battleground states (Florida, Ohio) that had been won by Republicans in recent elections. Taking the stage in Chicagos Grant Park with Michelle and their two young daughters, Malia and Sasha, Obama acknowledged the historic nature of his win while reflecting on the serious challenges that lay ahead. The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.