A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003. After winning a landslide primary victory in March 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the Senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote.
As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he cosponsored legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In the current 110th Congress, he has sponsored legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel. Since announcing his presidential campaign in February 2007, Obama has emphasized withdrawing American troops from Iraq, increasing energy independence, decreasing the influence of lobbyists, and promoting universal health care as top national priorities.
Obama was born on August 4, 1961, at the Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama, Sr., a Black Kenyan of Nyangoma-Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya, and Ann Dunham, a White American from Wichita, Kansas. His parents met while both were attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was enrolled as a foreign student. They separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama's father returned to Kenya and saw his American-born son only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982. After her divorce, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Soetoro's home country of Indonesia in 1967, where Obama attended local schools in Jakarta until he was ten years old. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending Punahou School from the fifth grade in 1971 until his graduation from high school in 1979. Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 for several years, then returning to Indonesia for her fieldwork. She died of ovarian cancer in 1995.
Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983, then worked at Business International Corporation and New York Public Interest Research Group.
After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer for three years from June 1985 to May 1988 as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland, West Pullman, and Riverdale) on Chicago's far South Side. During his three years as the DCP's director, its staff grew from 1 to 13 and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000, with accomplishments including helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization in Altgeld Gardens. Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a community organizing institute. In mid-1988, he traveled for the first time to Europe for three weeks then Kenya for five weeks where he met many of his Kenyan relatives for the first time.
Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988 and at the end of his first year was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review based on his grades and a writing competition. In his second year he was elected president of the Law Review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the law review's staff of 80 editors. Obama's election in February 1990 as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review was widely reported and followed by several long, detailed profiles. He graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991 and returned to Chicago where he had worked as a summer associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990.
The publicity from his election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review led to a contract and advance to write a book about race relations. In an effort to recruit him to their faculty, the University of Chicago Law School provided Obama with a fellowship and an office to work on his book. He originally planned to finish the book in one year, but it took much longer as the book evolved into a personal memoir. In order to work without interruptions, Obama and his wife, Michelle, traveled to Bali where he wrote for several months. The manuscript was finally published as Dreams from My Father in mid-1995.
Obama directed Illinois Project Vote from April to October 1992, a voter registration drive with a staff of 10 and 700 volunteers that achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, leading Crain's Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be.
Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, as a Lecturer for four years (1992–1996), and as a Senior Lecturer for eight years (1996–2004).
In 1993 Obama joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 12-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002.
Obama was a founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife, Michelle, became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago in early 1993. He served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund Obama's DCP, from 1993–2002, and served on the board of directors of The Joyce Foundation from 1994–2002. Obama served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from 1995–2002, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995–1999. He also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Lugenia Burns Hope Center.
State legislator, 1997–2004
Main article: Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama
Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from the 13th District, which then spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn. Once elected, Obama gained bipartisan support for legislation reforming ethics and health care laws. He sponsored a law increasing tax credits for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare. In 2001, as co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Obama supported Republican Governor Ryan's payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending regulations aimed at averting home foreclosures, and in 2003, Obama sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations.
Obama was reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998, and again in 2002. In 2000, he lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.
In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee when Democrats, after a decade in the minority, regained a majority. During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, police representatives credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty reforms. Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the US Senate.
2004 U.S. Senate campaign
See also: United States Senate election in Illinois, 2004
In mid-2002, Obama began considering a run for the U.S. Senate, enlisting political strategist David Axelrod that fall and formally announcing his candidacy in January 2003. Decisions by Republican incumbent Peter Fitzgerald and his Democratic predecessor Carol Moseley Braun not to contest the race launched wide-open Democratic and Republican primary contests involving fifteen candidates. Obama's candidacy was boosted by Axelrod's advertising campaign featuring images of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and an endorsement by the daughter of the late Paul Simon, former U.S. Senator for Illinois. He received over 52% of the vote in the March 2004 primary, emerging 29% ahead of his nearest Democratic rival.
Obama's expected opponent in the general election, Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race in June 2004.
In July 2004, Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. After describing his maternal grandfather's experiences as a World War II veteran and a beneficiary of the New Deal's FHA and G.I. Bill programs, Obama spoke about changing the U.S. government's economic and social priorities. He questioned the Bush administration's management of the Iraq War and highlighted America's obligations to its soldiers. Drawing examples from U.S. history, he criticized heavily partisan views of the electorate and asked Americans to find unity in diversity, saying, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America." Broadcasts of the speech by major news organizations launched Obama's status as a national political figure and boosted his campaign for U.S. Senate.
In August 2004, with less than three months to go before Election Day, Alan Keyes accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan. A long-time resident of Maryland, Keyes established legal residency in Illinois with the nomination. In the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes's 27%, the largest victory margin for a statewide race in Illinois history.
U.S. Senator, 2005–present
Main article: United States Senate career of Barack Obama
Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 4, 2005. Though a newcomer to Washington, he recruited a team of established, high-level advisers devoted to broad themes that exceeded the usual requirements of an incoming first-term senator. He hired Pete Rouse, a 30-year veteran of national politics and former chief of staff to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, as his chief of staff, and economist Karen Kornbluh, former deputy chief of staff to Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, as his policy director. He recruited Samantha Power, author on human rights and genocide, and former Clinton administration officials Anthony Lake and Susan Rice as foreign policy advisers.
The Senate historian lists Obama as the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history, and the third to have been popularly elected. He is the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus. CQ Weekly, a nonpartisan publication, characterized him as a "loyal Democrat" based on analysis of all Senate votes in 2005–2007, and the National Journal ranked him as the "most liberal" senator based on an assessment of selected votes during 2007. Asked about the Journal's characterization of his voting record, Obama expressed doubts about the survey's methodology, blaming "old politics" labeling of political positions as "conservative" or "liberal" for creating predispositions that prevent problem-solving.
See also: List of bills sponsored by Barack Obama in the United States Senate
Consistent with his interests in conservation, Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Obama took an active role in the Senate's drive for improved border security and immigration reform. In 2005, he cosponsored the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" introduced by Republican John McCain of Arizona. He later added three amendments to the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act", which passed the Senate in May 2006, but failed to gain majority support in the House of Representatives. In September 2006, Obama supported a related bill, the Secure Fence Act, authorizing construction of fencing and other security improvements along the United States–Mexico border. President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act into law in October 2006, calling it "an important step toward immigration reform."
Senate bill sponsors Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Obama discussing the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act
Partnering with Republican Senators Richard Lugar of Indiana and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Obama successfully introduced two initiatives bearing his name. "Lugar–Obama" expanded the Nunn–Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and anti-personnel mines. The "Coburn–Obama Transparency Act" authorized the establishment of http://www.usaspending.gov/, a web search engine launched in December 2007 and run by the Office of Management and Budget. After Illinois residents complained of waste water contamination by a neighboring nuclear plant, Obama sponsored legislation requiring plant owners to notify state and local authorities of radioactive leaks. A compromise version of the bill was subsequently blocked by partisan disputes and later reintroduced. In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the "Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act," marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor.
In January 2007, Obama worked with Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin to eliminate gifts of travel on corporate jets by lobbyists to members of Congress and require disclosure of bundled campaign contributions under the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act," which was signed into law in September 2007. He introduced S. 453, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections, including fraudulent flyers and automated phone calls, as witnessed in the 2006 midterm elections. Obama's energy initiatives scored pluses and minuses with environmentalists, who welcomed his sponsorship with McCain of a climate change bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by 2050, but were skeptical of his support for a bill promoting liquefied coal production. Obama also introduced the "Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007," a bill to cap troop levels in Iraq, begin phased redeployment, and remove all combat brigades from Iraq before April 2008.
Later in 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality disorder military discharges, and calling for an official review following reports that the procedure had been used inappropriately to reduce government costs. He sponsored the "Iran Sanctions Enabling Act" supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry, and joined Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska in introducing legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism. A provision from the Obama–Hagel bill was passed by Congress in December 2007 as an amendment to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill. Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program providing one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.
Obama and Richard Lugar visit a Russian mobile launch missile dismantling facility
Obama held assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veterans' Affairs through December 2006. In January 2007, he left the Environment and Public Works committee and took additional assignments with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. He also became Chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on European Affairs.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama has made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In August 2005, he traveled to Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. The trip focused on strategies to control the world's supply of conventional weapons, biological weapons, and weapons of mass destruction as a first defense against terrorist attacks. Following meetings with U.S. military in Kuwait and Iraq in January 2006, he visited Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. At a meeting with Palestinian students two weeks before Hamas won the legislative election, Obama warned that "the U.S. will never recognize winning Hamas candidates unless the group renounces its fundamental mission to eliminate Israel." He left for his third official trip in August 2006, traveling to South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad. In a speech at the University of Nairobi, he spoke about political corruption and ethnic rivalries. The speech touched off controversy among Kenyan leaders, some formally challenging Obama's remarks as unfair and improper, others defending his positions.
2008 presidential campaign
This section contains information about one or more candidates in an upcoming or ongoing election.Content may change as the election approaches.
Main articles: Barack Obama presidential primary campaign, 2008 and Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008
In February 2007, standing before the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Describing his working life in Illinois, and symbolically linking his presidential campaign to Abraham Lincoln's 1858 House Divided speech, Obama said: "That is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America." Speaking at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) meeting one week before the February announcement, Obama called for putting an end to negative campaigning. Since announcing his presidential campaign Obama has emphasized ending the war in Iraq, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care as his top three priorities.
Obama on stage with his wife and two daughters just before announcing his presidential campaign in Springfield, Illinois
Obama's campaign raised $58 million during the first half of 2007, topping all other candidates and exceeding previous records for the first six months of any year before an election year. Small donors, those contributing in increments of less than $200, accounted for $16.4 million of Obama's record-breaking total, more than any other Democratic candidate. In the first month of 2008, his campaign brought in $36.8 million, the most ever raised in one month by a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries.
With two months remaining before the first electoral contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, and national opinion polls showing him trailing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama began directly charging his top rival with failing to clearly state her political positions. Campaigning in Iowa, he told The Washington Post that as the Democratic nominee he would draw more support than Clinton from independent and Republican voters in the general election.
Among the first four DNC-sanctioned state contests, Obama won more delegates than Clinton in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina while winning an equal number in New Hampshire. On Super Tuesday, he emerged with 20 more delegates than Clinton. He broke fundraising records in the first two months of 2008, raising over $90 million for his primary campaign while Clinton raised $45 million in the same period. After Super Tuesday, Obama won the eleven remaining February primaries and caucuses. Obama and Clinton split delegates and states nearly equally in the March 4th contests of Vermont, Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island; Obama closed the month with victories in Wyoming and Mississippi.
In March 2008, a controversy broke out concerning Obama's former pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright. After ABC News broadcast clips of his racially and politically charged sermons, Obama responded by condemning Wright's remarks and ending Wright's relationship with the campaign. Obama delivered a speech, during the controversy, entitled "A More Perfect Union" that addressed issues of race. After Wright reiterated some of his remarks in a speech at the National Press Club, Obama strongly denounced Wright, who he said "[presented] a world view that contradicts who I am and what I stand for." Obama resigned from Trinity on May 31, 2008, after a visiting orator, Catholic priest Michael Pfleger, mocked Hillary Clinton. Obama stated his resignation was to avoid the impression that he endorsed the entire range of opinions expressed at that church.
General David Petraeus gives an aerial tour of Baghdad to Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel.
During April, May, and June, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota held primaries; Obama won North Carolina, Oregon, and Montana, and Clinton won the rest, with an aggregate result of Obama remaining ahead in pledged delegates after these contests. During the same period, Obama received endorsements from more superdelegates than did Clinton. On May 31, the Democratic National Committee agreed to seat all of the Michigan and Florida delegates at the national convention, each with a half-vote, narrowing the delegate gap between the two Democrats and increasing the number of delegates needed to win the nomination. On June 3, with all states counted, Obama passed the 2118 delegate mark and became the Democratic presumptive nominee. On that day, he gave a victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota, paying tribute to his rival Clinton, who suspended her campaign and endorsed him on June 7. Obama is the first African American to be the presumptive nominee of a major political party.
On June 19, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing since the system was created after the Watergate scandal.
Policies and proposals
Main article: Political positions of Barack Obama
On the role of government in economic affairs, Obama has written: "We should be asking ourselves what mix of policies will lead to a dynamic free market and widespread economic security, entrepreneurial innovation and upward mobility [...] we should be guided by what works." Speaking before the National Press Club in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, associating Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security with social Darwinism. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Obama spoke out against government indifference to growing economic class divisions, calling on both political parties to take action to restore the social safety net for the poor. Shortly before announcing his presidential campaign, Obama told the health care advocacy group Families USA that he supports universal healthcare in the United States, the same kind of health care that Members of Congress give themselves.
Obama speaking at a rally in Conway, South Carolina
A standard method that political scientists use for gauging ideology is to compare the annual ratings by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) with the ratings by the American Conservative Union (ACU). Based on his years in Congress (i.e. 2005, 2006, and 2007), Senator Obama has a lifetime average conservative rating of 7.67% from the ACU, and a lifetime average liberal rating of 90% from the ADA.
Campaigning in New Hampshire, Obama announced an $18 billion plan for investments in early childhood education, math and science education, and expanded summer learning opportunities. Obama's campaign distinguished his proposals to reward teachers for performance from traditional merit pay systems, assuring unions that changes would be pursued through the collective bargaining process.
At the Tax Policy Center in September 2007, he blamed special interests for distorting the U.S. tax code. His plan would eliminate taxes for senior citizens with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, repeal income tax cuts for those making over $250,000 as well as the capital gains and dividends tax cut, close corporate tax loopholes, lift the $102,000 cap on Social Security taxes, restrict offshore tax havens, and simplify filing of income tax returns by pre-filling wage and bank information already collected by the IRS. Announcing his presidential campaign's energy plan in October 2007, Obama proposed a cap and trade auction system to restrict carbon emissions and a 10 year program of investments in new energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. Obama proposed that all pollution credits must be auctioned, with no grandfathering of credits for oil and gas companies, and the spending of the revenue obtained on energy development and economic transition costs.
Obama was an early opponent of the Bush administration's policies on Iraq. On October 2, 2002, the day President Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War, Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally in Federal Plaza, speaking out against the war. On March 16, 2003, the day President Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Obama addressed the largest Chicago anti-Iraq War rally to date in Daley Plaza and told the crowd "It's not too late" to stop the war.
Obama sought to make his early public opposition to the Iraq War before it started a major issue in his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign to distinguish himself from his Democratic primary rivals who supported the resolution authorizing the Iraq War, and in his 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign, to distinguish himself from four Democratic primary rivals who voted for the resolution authorizing the war (Senators Clinton, Edwards, Biden, and Dodd).
Obama taking questions from a crowd in New Hampshire
Speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in November 2006, Obama called for a "phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq" and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran. In a March 2007 speech to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, he said that the primary way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is through talks and diplomacy, although not ruling out military action. Obama has indicated that he would engage in "direct presidential diplomacy" with Iran without preconditions. Detailing his strategy for fighting global terrorism in August 2007, Obama said "it was a terrible mistake to fail to act" against a 2005 meeting of al-Qaeda leaders that U.S. intelligence had confirmed to be taking place in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said that as president he would not miss a similar opportunity, even without the support of the Pakistani government.
In a December 2005 Washington Post opinion column, and at the Save Darfur rally in April 2006, Obama called for more assertive action to oppose genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. He has divested $180,000 in personal holdings of Sudan-related stock, and has urged divestment from companies doing business in Iran. In the July–August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Obama called for an outward looking post-Iraq War foreign policy and the renewal of American military, diplomatic, and moral leadership in the world. Saying "we can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission," he called on Americans to "lead the world, by deed and by example."
Obama has encouraged Democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other religious groups. In December 2006, he joined Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church" organized by church leaders Kay and Rick Warren. Together with Warren and Brownback, Obama took an HIV test, as he had done in Kenya less than four months earlier. He encouraged "others in public life to do the same" and not be ashamed of it. Before the conference, 18 anti-abortion groups published an open letter stating, in reference to Obama's support for legal abortion: "In the strongest possible terms, we oppose Rick Warren's decision to ignore Senator Obama's clear pro-death stance and invite him to Saddleback Church anyway." Addressing over 8,000 United Church of Christ members in June 2007, Obama challenged "so-called leaders of the Christian Right" for being "all too eager to exploit what divides us."
Obama made several statements in a campaign video released in October 2007 related to defense spending and nuclear weapons. In addition to promising to end the war in Iraq, Obama stated that he will enact budget cuts in the range of tens of billions of dollars. He stated that he will stop investing in missile defense systems, that he will not weaponize space, that he will "slow development of future combat systems," and that he would work towards a world without nuclear weapons. To achieve this goal, Obama wishes to end development of new nuclear weapons, to reduce the current U.S. nuclear stockpile, to enact a global ban on production of fissile material, and to seek negotiations with Russia in order to take ICBMs off high alert status.
Obama is a sponsor of the Global Poverty Act, which "requires the President to develop and implement a comprehensive policy to cut extreme global poverty in half by 2015 through aid, trade, debt relief, and coordination with the international community, businesses and NGOs."
Family and personal life
Obama met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989 when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial offers to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992. The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born on July 4, 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), in 2001.
Obama playing basketball with U.S. military in Djibouti in 2006
Applying the proceeds of a book deal, the family moved in 2005 from a Hyde Park, Chicago condominium to their current $1.6 million house in neighboring Kenwood. The purchase of an adjacent lot and sale of part of it to Obama by the wife of developer and friend Tony Rezko attracted media attention because of Rezko's indictment and subsequent conviction on political corruption charges unrelated to Obama.
In December 2007, Money magazine estimated the Obama family's net worth at $1.3 million. Their 2007 tax return showed a household income of $4.2 million, up from about $1 million in 2006 and $1.6 million in 2005, mostly from sales of his books.
In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family. "Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations," he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher." Obama has seven half-siblings from his Kenyan father's family, six of them living, and a half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, the daughter of his mother and her Indonesian second husband. Soetoro-Ng is married to a Chinese Canadian. Obama's mother is survived by her Kansas-born mother, Madelyn Dunham. In Dreams from My Father, Obama ties his mother's family history to possible Native American ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis, president of the southern Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Obama plays basketball, a sport he participated in as a member of his high school's varsity team. He is left-handed, but prefers his right hand for some tasks. Before announcing his presidential candidacy, he began a well-publicized effort to quit smoking. Obama told the Chicago Tribune. "I've quit periodically over the last several years. I've got an ironclad demand from my wife that in the stresses of the campaign I do not succumb."
In The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that he "was not raised in a religious household." He describes his mother, raised by non-religious parents (whom Obama has specified elsewhere as "non-practicing Methodists and Baptists") to be detached from religion, yet "in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known." He describes his Kenyan father as "raised a Muslim," but a "confirmed atheist" by the time his parents met, and his Indonesian stepfather as "a man who saw religion as not particularly useful." In the book, Obama explains how, through working with black churches as a community organizer while in his twenties, he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change."
Main articles: Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, was published before his first run for political office. In it he recalls his childhood in Honolulu and Jakarta, college years in Los Angeles and New York City, and his employment as a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s. The book's last few chapters describe his first visit to Kenya, a journey to connect with his Luo family and heritage. In the preface to the 2004 revised edition, Obama explains that he had hoped the story of his family "might speak in some way to the fissures of race that have characterized the American experience." In a 1995 review, novelist Paul Watkins wrote that Dreams "persuasively describes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to neither." The audiobook edition earned Obama the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album of 2006. His second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, was published in October 2006 and soon rose to the top of The New York Times Best Seller hardcover list. Its title came from a sermon delivered by Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. The paperback edition currently ranks fifth on The New York Times nonfiction list. The Chicago Tribune credits large crowds that gathered at book signings with influencing Obama's decision to run for president. Former U.S. presidential candidate Gary Hart said the book's self-portrayal presents "a man of relative youth yet maturity, a wise observer of the human condition, a figure who possesses perseverance and writing skills that have flashes of grandeur." Reviewer Michael Tomasky writes that it does not contain "boldly innovative policy prescriptions that will lead the Democrats out of their wilderness," but does show Obama's potential to "construct a new politics that is progressive but grounded in civic traditions that speak to a wider range of Americans." In February 2008, he won a Grammy award for the spoken word edition of Audacity. Foreign language editions of the book have been published in Italian, Spanish, German, French, Danish and Greek.