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President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

The first African-American president, Barack Obama inspired a new era of U.S. politics and, despite his critics, became one of the most loved political figures of the modern era. Born in Honolulu, HI, Barack Hussein Obama II was the son of a white mother, Ann Dunham, and Kenyan father, Barack Obama, Sr., who met while students at the University of Hawaii. Although both his parents were incredibly intelligent and ambitious, their marriage proved short-lived. His father went on to Harvard before returning to Africa while his mother briefly moved her young son to Indonesia when she remarried. At the age of 10, Obama returned to live in Hawaii with his grandparents, who would become his primary caregivers while his mother pursued an anthropology career, eventually returning to Indonesia where she spent most of the rest of her life. Sharing his parents' passion for education and achievement, Obama went on to graduate from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, becoming the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review. When he moved to Chicago to work as a lawyer, he met a colleague, Michelle Robinson, who would become his wife in 1992. In addition to his work as a lawyer and community organizer, Obama went on to become a faculty member at the University of Chicago Law School before being elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, where he enjoyed a meteoric rise that helped buoy him to his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate. After welcoming two daughters, Malia, born, and Sasha, Obama saw his political star shine even brighter when he delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. He surprised many when he ran for and won the 2008 U.S. presidency over challenger John McCain, becoming the first African-American president and beating out fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, who would become his biggest ally as Secretary of State. Although many of his more hysterical critics called his nationality, religion and loyalty to America into question, Obama earned the seal of approval from Oprah Winfrey and, for many, represented the best in American ideals: optimism, intelligence and compassion. Faced with a difficult economy, persistent underlying racism and vicious attacks from his opponents, Obama managed to achieve many impressive feats, including helping save the auto industry, pushing the health care reform known as "Obamacare" through, ending the Iraq War, and authorizing the successful assassination of Osama bin Laden. Showered with awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama epitomized a new breed of leader: youthful but confident, health-conscious but a smoker, effortlessly cool but a closet Trekkie. Able to sing like Al Green, eloquent beyond all measure and happy to poke fun at himself, Obama was enormously popular around the world, but he still faced a difficult battle for his 2012 reelection. After an exhausting, bruising campaign, he defeated Mitt Romney to earn four more years, celebrating with a photo of himself hugging Michelle, which became the most retweeted image of all time.
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