50 things you should know about Barack Obama
1. Barack Obama's father was a black Kenyan and his mother was a white Kansas native. The two met while attending the University of Hawaii.
2. Mr. Obama grew up in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia for a few years. From age 10 on, he lived with his maternal grandparents in a Honolulu apartment.
3. He admits that as a teenager, he used drugs such as marijuana and cocaine to cope with questions of racial identity.4. Mr. Obama played forward on his high school basketball team and was known as "Barry O'Bomber" for his left-handed double pump shot.
5. He wasn't the first in his family to attend Harvard. His father, Barack, also attended the university.
6. Mr. Obama has been a first black president before. He was elected president of the Harvard Law Review.
7. He stopped going by the nickname "Barry" in college after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
8. He had a pet ape named Tata when he lived in Indonesia as a child.
9. Mr. Obama is only the third black U.S. senator since Reconstruction.
10. His wife, Michelle, agreed to allow him to run for president only if he agreed to quit smoking. But he recently admitted that he still has an occasional cigarette.
11. Mr. Obama is quite the "Renegade." That's the code name he chose for his Secret Service detail to use.
12. Mrs. Obama once told Glamour magazine that her husband is smelly in the morning.
13. He has never faced significant opposition from a Republican opponent.
14. His desk in the Senate once belonged to Robert Kennedy. Mr. Obama was only 6 when Mr. Kennedy, who was running for president, was assassinated in 1968.
15. If elected, he will be the third president in a row without sons. Mr. Obama has two daughters: Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10.
16. Mr. Obama says his daughters made him promise that, as a condition for running for president, they can get a dog after the election, win or lose.
17. He was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. He initially had a hard time fitting in because the chamber was controlled by Republicans, and some of his fellow Chicago Democrats thought he was pretentious and "a white man in blackface."
18. As a state senator, he was selected to give his now-famous keynote speech at the Democratic convention in 2004 after presidential nominee John Kerry heard him speak in Chicago.
19. He is 6 feet 2 inches tall, and his wife is almost 6 feet in heels.
20. He once joked, "I'm so overexposed, I make Paris Hilton look like a recluse."
21. As a kid, he collected Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics, and as a teen, he listened to jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. and Earth, Wind and Fire.
22. He grew up without any particular religious beliefs. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was not religious, and his father was an atheist. Mr. Obama joined the United Church of Christ as a young man in Chicago, saying he was inspired by the good work of Christians he had met and "felt God's spirit beckoning me."
23. Mr. Obama earned a starting salary of $13,000 a year as a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s. In 2007, he and his wife made $4.2 million, according to their tax return.
24. He won a Grammy award this year for the audio version of his book The Audacity of Hope.
25. In 2000, he lost by a landslide when he challenged former Black Panther Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, for his seat in the U.S. House. Mr. Rush is still in office.
26. Mr. Obama easily won his 2004 U.S. Senate race, defeating Republican Alan Keyes with 70 percent of the vote. Mr. Keyes was a late replacement for primary winner Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the race when after his divorce records revealed sex club allegations from his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan.
27. Mr. Obama formally announced his presidential candidacy in February 2007 on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., where Abraham Lincoln once declared that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."
28. Throughout 2007, he trailed Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom many pundits characterized as the Democrats' "inevitable" presidential nominee. He found an opening in an October debate, when Mrs. Clinton gave a convoluted answer to the question of whether she supported driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. After that, the race became more competitive.
29. Oprah Winfrey joined Mr. Obama on the campaign trail in December for a series of rallies starting in Des Moines, Iowa. Nearly 30,000 people came to see them in Columbia, S.C.
30. Mr. Obama wasn't an overwhelming favorite among black voters early in the campaign. Some didn't think he was "black enough," and others doubted that an African-American could be elected president. But his victory in predominantly white Iowa convinced many black voters that he could win the nomination.
31. Mr. Obama's campaign inspired many music video spin-offs, including "Obama Girl" from the Web site barelypolitical. com. Hip-hop star will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas also wrote a song, "Yes, We Can," based on a speech given by Mr. Obama after his loss in the New Hampshire primary and made it into a video for the Web.
32. In February, Mr. Obama racked up 11 straight victories and gained the lead in the number of delegates needed to win the nomination.
33. Mr. Obama lost the Texas primary to Mrs. Clinton but drew big crowds, including an estimated 15,000 at Dallas' Reunion Arena in late February. He ended up winning a majority of delegates in the Lone Star State because his supporters flooded precinct caucuses on election night.
34. Mr. Obama did well in states with large numbers of black and college-educated voters. But he struggled to draw working-class whites, Latinos and rural residents, especially after making comments in San Francisco that some rural voters "cling to their guns and religion."
35. Mrs. Obama stirred up controversy after saying that for the first time in her adult life, she was "really proud" of her country. She later said she misspoke, and others, including first lady Laura Bush, defended her.
36. During the primaries, tensions grew between Mr. Obama and former President Bill Clinton over the ex-president' s comments that seemed to belittle Mr. Obama's victory in South Carolina.
37. The tension between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton grew as well. The New York senator released a TV ad that questioned whether Mr. Obama would be ready for a "3 a.m." foreign crisis phone call, and Mr. Obama criticized her judgment and derided her as a Washington insider.
38. Mr. Obama's association with longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright proved troublesome during the primary season. Dr. Wright was criticized for racially incendiary sermons and views. Mr. Obama initially tried to defend him and gave a widely praised speech on racial relations in America, but he later renounced Dr. Wright after the pastor made controversial remarks at the National Press Club. The Obamas left Trinity United Church of Christ soon afterward.
39. Opponents – most recently the McCain-Palin campaign – have criticized Mr. Obama's association with 1960s radical Bill Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground. Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were involved with a Chicago education reform group, and Mr. Ayers hosted a party for Mr. Obama when he announced his Illinois Senate run. Mr. Obama has denounced Mr. Ayers' "detestable acts" but says he was only 8 years old during Mr. Ayers' bombing campaign.
40. Mr. Obama clinched the nomination June 3 and claimed victory in a speech in St. Paul, Minn., later the site of the GOP convention. Four days later, Mrs. Clinton suspended her presidential campaign and endorsed Mr. Obama.
41. A few weeks later, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton campaigned together for the first time in the appropriately named town of Unity, N.H. But he struggled to win over her supporters, including white blue-collar voters.
42. Mr. Obama spoke to a huge crowd in Berlin this summer, just as former President John F. Kennedy had done decades ago.
43. In a campaign ad, Mr. Obama talked about his mother's death from cancer in 1995 and how, in her final days, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well.
44. Mr. Obama's momentum stalled during the summer when the McCain campaign ran ads – including one with Paris Hilton – accusing him of being a vapid celebrity without substance or a proven record of leadership.
45. Mr. Obama selected Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate to help bolster his foreign-policy credentials, disappointing many Democrats who favored Mrs. Clinton. Early in the presidential campaign, Mr. Biden had questioned Mr. Obama's readiness to be president.
46. Mr. Obama was the first presidential candidate since Kennedy to accept his party's nomination at an outside venue. He gave his acceptance speech at Denver's Invesco Field on Aug. 28, drawing a crowd of 85,000.
47. Mr. Obama was accused of sexism and disparaging Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin when he referred to Mr. McCain's policies as "lipstick on a pig." His campaign denied the allegations, saying he was referring to Mr. McCain's policies as the "pig."
48. Campaigning in Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama tried to connect with blue-collar voters by bowling, but ended up with an embarrassing score of 37. "My economic plan is better than my bowling," he told fellow bowlers. "It has to be," a man called out.
49. Mr. Obama told 60 Minutes earlier this year that every time he played basketball before a key primary, he'd win. He said he plans to play before the general election.
50. If elected, Mr. Obama will be the fifth-youngest president ever at inauguration.
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