History was made last night when the U.S. elected Barack Obama president.
Now that the heady elation of Obama’s landslide victory over Sen. John McCain, the first African American president-elect has a very long to-do list. At the top of the list are dealing with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, mending the faltering economy, and burnishing the U.S.’s image abroad. He’ll also need to win the support of the tens of millions of people who voted for his opponent. Oh, and he needs a cabinet.
“There will be setbacks and false starts,” he said of his nascent administration to the 125,000 people in Chicago’s Grant Park. “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”
Obama began his journey to the White House almost 21 months ago and raised a staggering $700 million for his campaign. After months of grueling primaries from coast to coast, the so-called neophyte out-organized, out-fundraised, and out-messaged the grande dame of Democratic politics, forcing New York Sen. Hillary Clinton to concede in June that he had the requisite number of delegates to move on to the general election match against McCain. Although there must have been a number of moments when he wished she had conceded earlier, perhaps Clinton did him an enormous favor. The extended primary season allowed Obama to hone both his campaigning skills and his message, almost like a boot camp to beat the Republican nominee.
In his win, he has shaken up the notion of red and blue states after taking many battleground states – including Indiana and Virginia, which hadn’t supported a Democratic candidate in 44 years. Ohio and Florida, key to President George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 victories, also went for Obama, as did Pennsylvania, which McCain desperately needed to keep his candidacy viable. When the popular vote was tallied, it was 52% for Obama and 46% for McCain. The Electoral College was equally lopsided, with Obama securing 349 votes to McCain’s 163.
Perhaps retired Gen. Colin Powell, said it best when he told the Associated Press that Obama would be a president for all America.”
With just 76 days until the Jan. 20 inauguration, Obama must now assemble a White House staff and selecting cabinet nominees. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel is the front-runner to be Obama’s chief of staff, according to campaign officials.