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Barack Obama Wins U.S. Presidential Elections
    2008-11-05 12:03:58     Xinhua

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (L) celebrates with his family after he won the U.S. presidential election in Chicago on Tuesday night, Nov. 4, 2008. [Photo: Xinhua]

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Profile: Barack Obama -- U.S. President-elect

Special Report:
US Presidential Election 2008

U.S. Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday claimed victory in the U.S. presidential election, saying "change has come to America."

Addressing about 150,000 supporters at his election night party at Grant Park in downtown Chicago, Illinois, Obama congratulated his Republican rival John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin for their achievements in the presidential campaign. Obama expressed his wish to work with the two to renew the country's promise.

He also praised his campaign team as one of the best in history and thanked his family, including his grandmother who passed away on Monday, for their support during the presidential campaign.

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer," Obama said.

Obama also mentioned that the road ahead would be long and hard with many challenges waiting to be tackled.

"We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there," Obama said.

Shortly after McCain conceded defeated, President George W. Bush called Obama to congratulate him.

Projections showed that Obama won a landslide victory with at least 338 electoral votes while McCain only got 156 votes. Under the U.S. election system, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes to capture the White House.

Obama, a 47-year-old first-term senator from Illinois, made history by becoming the first African-American president-elect of the United States.

He became a clear winner even in the early hours of the much-publicized election night when U.S. media were projecting polling results and declared McCain's defeat in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.

McCain, in a televised concession speech made in Phoenix, his home state of Arizona, congratulated Obama on winning the presidency, saying "the American people have spoken."

McCain, 72, urged his supporters to rally behind the president-elect and vowed to help his former rival deal with the numerous challenges facing the country.

"It is natural tonight to feel some disappointment but tomorrow we must move beyond it," McCain said.

Election Day began with Obama leading in almost all national and state-by-state pre-election surveys, making an upset a tough uphill climb for McCain.

Analysts here said that a well-managed campaign, a sharp downturn in the U.S. economy in October and a heavy voter turnout on Election Day were among the factors that helped Obama win the White House.

Obama's life tells a different story from previous presidential hopefuls. He was born on Aug. 14, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a Kenyan father and a white mother from the American heartland.

However, his father left home two years after Obama's birth for a graduate degree in Harvard and then a job in the Kenyan government. Obama only met with his father again once at age 10.

Obama's mother married an Indonesian oil executive when he was six and the family moved to the southeastern Asian country. Obama eventually returned to Hawaii for high school and stayed with his grandparents.

After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, Obama was "possessed with a crazy idea -- that I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change."

He moved from New York to Chicago in 1985 and worked as a community organizer in a poor African-American area for three years. It was during that time that he realized involvement at a higher level was needed to bring true improvement to such communities.

Obama went to Harvard Law School and was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation, he returned to Chicago where he practiced civil rights law and taught the Constitution at the University of Chicago.

Obama decided to make his first run for public office in 1996 and won a seat in the Illinois state senate. Four years later, he unsuccessfully sought a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2004, Obama beat six other Democratic rivals to win his party's nomination for the congressional elections. His remarkable oratory skills also impressed the Democrats' presidential candidate, John Kerry, who named him the keynote speaker at the party's national convention. It was there that Obama stepped on the national political stage for the first time. That November, he overwhelmingly captured 70 percent of the popular vote in the congressional elections and became a Senator.

In the Senate, Obama's voting record coincided with those of the Democratic Party's liberal wing. He criticized the Iraq war from the beginning and worked on Congress ethical standards as well as increased use of renewable fuels. He also built his reputation as a new breed of politician by working without parties and racial divides.

Obama announced his bid for the White House on Feb. 10, 2007, in Springfield, Illinois, where former President Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech in 1858.

He joined seven other democrats, including former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the race for his party's presidential nomination. In the first half of 2007, Obama raised 58 million U.S. dollars. That set a record for fundraising by a presidential campaign in the first six months of the calendar year before the elections, although he fought a close race with Clinton in national polls in 2007.

However, Obama was highly successful at enlisting supporters, especially among the young, minorities and the well educated. He also mapped a strategy to campaign in caucus states as well as primary states. In the first caucus vote held in Iowa on Jan. 3, 2008, Obama scored a surprising victory.

After the Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, Obama tied Clinton. With victories in 10 more consecutive contests in the rest of February, he surpassed the New York senator to become the strongest nominee. Finally, on June 3, he clinched the presidential nomination and later chose Senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

During the presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly delivered the message that he would bring the changes the country needs and "revive American dreams."

He has promised that if elected, he would take the country in a new direction by withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq with responsibility, enacting universal and affordable healthcare and adopting tax policies favoring lower-and-middle-income families.

During the national campaign, he led McCain not only in polling numbers but also in campaign funds.

Obama met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989 when he worked at a Chicago law firm. They married on Oct. 3, 1992 and have two daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha.

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