Profile: Barack Obama

Updated: Nov 04, 2012, 00:43 AM IST

Preeti Panwar

On November 4, 2008, a feeling of change had swept the US when Barack Obama became the 44th and the first black president of the US after defeating Republican rival John McCain. He was sworn in as President on January 20, 2009.

And now the buzz is back again. It is time for another US presidential election on November 06, 2012. The world is watching the race to the White House because US decisions affect not just the country but also have an impact on rest of the world.

51 year old Obama, with his magnetic personality, charismatic oratory skills, ability to connect to the youth and a knack for consensus-building, had created a ray of hope of change in the hearts of millions of Americans. Now, the independent-minded leader is contesting for re-election, with the slogan of "Forward", as the next president of the US against Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.

On October 9, 2009, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also the author of two best-selling books.

Son of a Kenyan father and an American mother, Barack Hussein Obama II was born at Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961. Having lived mostly with his mother after his parents separated, when he was barely two years old, Obama’s first emotional meeting with his father was just before the latter died in an accident.

Obama attended schools in Jakarta and Honolulu where he stayed with his maternal grandparents for some years. After graduating from Columbia University and being trained as a lawyer, Obama went to work as an attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Galland from 1993 to 1996. He also served as a lecturer of constitutional law at the Chicago Law School for some time.

He married Michelle Robinson in 1992 who is also a Harvard Law School graduate. The couple has two young daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha ("Sasha").

There was a lot of controversy over Obama’s birth certificate. On April 27, 2011, the White House released President Obama`s long-form birth certificate that put an end to speculation that he has been lying about where he was born. He described the controversy as “silliness”.

The biggest strength of Obama lies with the immense support from his voters and their loyalty towards him. Obama’s first term was full of turbulent challenges like as the US economy was going through one of the worst recessions in decades along with low job growth and high unemployment rate.

Mission Osama bin laden on May 02, 2011 carried by US Navy Seals is one of the historic achievements of Obama and his team. The US healthcare system has seen major changes, new rules for Wall Street and the banking industry have been laid down and the US auto industry has been rescued from collapse.

In 2010, he also signed a landmark nuclear arms treaty with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in the Czech capital, Prague.

In September 2011, the US Army under Obama’s leadership also overturned a two-decade-old policy banning openly gay American-troops from serving in the US military.

In December 2011 at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Obama marked the end of the Iraq war by applauding the "extraordinary achievement" of US troops in a conflict he firmly opposed. He also paid tribute to the troops who served and died in the war, and their families.

As a senator, Obama was initially opposed to the India-US civil nuclear deal but after he became the president, US-India ties became strengthened that includes booming business and he even described the relationship as one of the "defining and indispensable partnerships of the 21st century".

One of the glitches in the US-India ties is that of outsourcing. Obama is opposed for outsourcing American jobs to India and China as his first priority is to create employment opportunities for US citizens.

Obama scripted history when he cast his ballot 12 days ahead of the November 06 polls, becoming the first sitting US President to vote early in his home town of Chicago.

As he entered the polling booth, he said, "This is the first time a President`s ever going to be early voting. That`s pretty exciting."

Obama also got endorsement for his re-election bid from the former Republican secretary of state Colin Powell, who is African-American.

Obama got positive ratings for his handling of the ‘superstorm’ Sandy that smashed the East Coast of the US. He was given bipartisan praise by the Democrats and Republicans including the New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, who is a regular critic, said he deserves ‘great credit’ in the aftermath of the storm.

He can definitely win a second term if he inspires the same enthusiasm that carried him to the White House in 2008 and if his supporters throng back to the polling stations with same zeal this time too.

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