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who was president in 2008

who was president in 2008

who was president in 2008

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The 2008 United States presidential election was the 56th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. The Democratic ticket of Barack Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, and Joe Biden, the senior Senator from Delaware, defeated the Republican ticket of John McCain, the senior Senator from Arizona, and Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska.

Obama became the first African American to be elected to the presidency, as well as being only the third sitting United States Senator elected president, joining Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy. Meanwhile, Biden became the first senator running mate of a senator elected president since Lyndon B. Johnson (who was Kennedy’s running mate) in the 1960 election.

Incumbent Republican President George W. Bush was ineligible to pursue a third term due to the term limits established by the 22nd Amendment. McCain secured the Republican nomination by March 2008, defeating former governors Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and other challengers. The Democratic primaries were marked by a sharp contest between Obama and the initial front-runner, former First Lady and Senator Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s victory in the New Hampshire primary made her the first woman to win a major party’s presidential primary.  After a long primary season, Obama secured the Democratic nomination in June 2008.

September 2008

Early campaigning focused heavily on the Iraq War and Bush’s unpopularity. McCain supported the war, as well as a troop surge that had begun in 2007, while Obama strongly opposed the war. Bush endorsed McCain, but the two did not campaign together, and Bush did not appear in person at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Obama campaigned on the theme that “Washington must change,” while McCain emphasized his experience. The campaign was strongly affected by the onset of a major financial crisis, which peaked in September 2008. McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign during the height of the financial crisis backfired as voters viewed his response as erratic.

who was president in 2008
who was president in 2008

United States Presidential Election of 2008

McCain’s campaign tried to paint Obama as a naive, inexperienced political lightweight who would sit down with the leaders of anti-American regimes in Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela without preconditions, claimed that he was merely a celebrity with little substance (airing an ad comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton), labeled his ideas socialist (hammering away at Obama’s tax policy in particular and pouncing on Obama’s comment to “Joe the Plumber” that he would seek “spread the wealth”), and attacked his association with Bill Ayers, who had cofounded the Weathermen, a group that carried out bombings in the 1960s.

Ayers, in 2008 a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago—and constantly called an “unrepentant domestic terrorist” by the McCain campaign—lived a few blocks from Obama in Chicago, contributed to his reelection campaign for the Illinois Senate, and served on an antipoverty board with Obama from 1999 to 2002.

September 19 to October 10

The fall campaign was also conducted against the backdrop of a financial crisis that gripped the country in September, when world markets suffered heavy losses, severely hitting the retirement savings of many Americans and pushing the economy to the top of voters’ concerns, far outdistancing the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism.

From September 19 to October 10, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 26 percent, from 11,388 to 8,451. At the same time, there was a severe contraction of liquidity in credit markets worldwide, caused in part by the subprime mortgage crisis, which resulted in the U.S. government’s providing emergency loans to several American firms and the bankruptcy or sale of several major financial institutions. The U.S. economic and political establishment reacted by passing (after an unsuccessful first attempt) the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which sought to prevent further collapse and to bailout the economy.

2008 Election Facts

  • McCain won Nebraska but Obama earned an electoral vote by winning the popular vote in the 2nd Congressional District. This marked the first time that Nebraska has split its electoral vote since it moved away from the winner-take-all method in 1992.
  • Popular vote totals generally gathered from state Certificates of Ascertainment and/or results posted directly by individual states.
  • Popular vote totals from Federal Elections 2008.
  • Obama received more votes than any candidate in history. The prior record, about 62 million, was set in 2004 by George W. Bush
  • Issues of the Day: Great Recession, Financial panic, Bailouts, Iraq War
who was president in 2008
who was president in 2008

Midterm Election of 2010

From the very start of Obama’s tenure as president, congressional Republicans pursued a strategy of consistent, strenuous opposition to most of his legislative initiatives. Politically, the strategy bore fruit in the 2010 midterm elections. As Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota said, “Their bumper sticker has one word: ‘No.’ Our bumper sticker has way too many words. And it says: ‘Continued on the next bumper sticker.’”

Looking at the stubbornly high unemployment rate Obama inherited on taking office, many voters refused to accept the president’s argument that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had kept joblessness from rising even higher. Voters who were satisfied with their health insurance continued to worry that Obama’s plan for health care reform would increase the cost and reduce the quality of medical care.

The new grassroots conservative Tea Party movement fueled a surge in turnout among Republican voters in 2010 even as participation among Obama’s core constituencies in 2008—young and African American voters—declined. On election day, the Republicans gained 6 seats in the Senate, reducing the Democrats’ majority in that chamber from 18 (59 to 41) to 6 (53 to 47). The GOP added 63 seats in the House of Representatives, enough to gain control of the House by a 242 to 193 majority in the 112th Congress.

The 2012 Election

President Obama entered the 2012 election year with job approval ratings that were dangerously low (roughly 40 percent) and an unemployment rate that was dangerously high (more than 8 percent) for an incumbent seeking reelection. But, like Bill Clinton in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2004, Obama benefited enormously from not having to fight for his party’s nomination. Gerald Ford in 1976, Jimmy Carter in 1980, and George Bush in 1992 had to wage such battles, and each of them was defeated by his general election opponent in November.

In contrast, Obama was able to use the first eight months of 2012 to raise money, rebuild his campaign organization, develop lines of attack on his likely Republican opponents, and launch his general election campaign from a united, enthusiastic Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Caroline, in September 2012. Following the pattern of reelection-seeking presidents since the 1950s, Obama chose Vice President Biden to run with him for a second term.

Cynthia McKinney (2008)

was the Green Party nominee for U.S. President in 2008. She appeared with running mate Rosa Clemente on the general election ballots in 30 states and the District of Columbia. They won 0.12% of the popular vote. Prior to her bid for the presidency, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representating  Georgia (1993-2003, 2005-2007). Before her tenure in Congress, McKinney worked as a high school teacher and a university professor.

Michele Bachmann (2012)

Bachmann was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president; she won the Ames straw poll in August 2011, but withdrew from the race after a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses. Bachmann represented a six-county Minnesota district in the U.S. House from 2007-2015, where she was a founder of the Tea Party Caucus. She became the first Republican woman from Minnesota elected to Congress in 2006 after serving in the State Senate from 2000-2006.

She is a graduate of Winona State University, the O.W. Coburn School of Law at Oral Roberts University, and the College of William and Mary. She worked for the Internal Revenue Service as a tax attorney until leaving to become a stay-at-home parent. Before seeking public office, Bachmann was a pro-life activist and founded a charter school, breaking from the school when local officials insisted that it remain non-sectarian rather than heavily Christian-oriented in order to keep its charter. She ran for the Stillwater school board, but lost.

who was president in 2008
who was president in 2008

Barack Obama elected as America’s first Black president

On November 4, more than 69.4 million Americans cast their vote for Obama, while some 59.9 million voters chose McCain. (Obama was the first sitting U.S. senator to win the White House since John F. Kennedy in 1960.) Obama captured some traditional Republican strongholds (Virginia, Indiana) and key battleground states (Florida, Ohio) that had been won by Republicans in recent elections.

Late that night, the president-elect appeared before a huge crowd of supporters in Chicago’s Grant Park and delivered a speech in he which acknowledged the historic nature of his victory (which came 143 years after the end of the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery): “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer…It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America.”

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