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2008 Election Time Machine

From Hope to History


Relive the 2008 election through the eyes and words of those who lived it below.

February 10, 2007

Obama: I'm running for President

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama formally entered the 2008 race for the presidency today… Read more from the Chicago Tribune + Opens in a new tab

President Obama waves to crowd on a sunny morning in Springfield, IL.

Senator Obama announces his candidacy for President of the United States in Springfield, IL.

Jared shares his memories from watching then-Senator Obama announce his candidacy.

A crowd of people in winter clothing stand in front of the Illinois state capitol.

2008 actually began in 2007! It began on Feb. 10, 2007 in Springfield when Obama declared his candidacy on a chilly day in front of a mass of people. —Leo K., Illinois

President Obama speaks to a group of young people outdoors.

President Obama greets the Iowa field staff after the Drake Debates in Des Moines in summer 2007. The staff had been up for 24 hours straight. —Chelsea K., New York

In this election—in this moment—let us reach for what we know is possible. A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.

Then-Senator Obama at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, November 10, 2007

Hear President Obama reflect on the Iowa caucuses and the extraordinary role organizers and volunteers played in building relationships with the communities they worked in and shaping the course of then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign.

Woman smiles holding paper.

Regina M., co-founder of Obama San Diego, works at a phone bank.

A group of students smiles for a photo with President Obama at the Coralville Marriott in Iowa.

This photo was taken during the final two weeks of the Iowa Caucus campaign in 2007/2008. Obama met with Iowa City West High School students at the Coralville Marriott. —Jenna B., Iowa

January 4, 2008

Obama Wins Iowa's Democratic Caucuses

DES MOINES, Jan. 3 —  Sen. Barack Obama Opens in a new tab , riding a message of hope and change and buoyed by extraordinary turnout, decisively won the Iowa Democratic caucuses Thursday night… Read more from the Washington Post + Opens in a new tab

After graduating from Oelwein High school in rural Iowa, I volunteered for the first time for the Barack Obama campaign. It was a beginning for both of us.

Greg P., Iowa

A pregnant woman wearing an "Obama '08" t-shirt and with the Obama Rising Sun "O" logo painted on her belly, a man in a collared shirt and two young children hold up painted signs that spell the word "Hope." Behind them are trees and shrubs.

January 9, 2008

Stunner in NH: Clinton defeats Obama

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won New Hampshire’s Democratic primary Tuesday night, pulling out a stunning victory over Sen. Barack Obama… Read more from NBC News + Opens in a new tab

Children holding Obama campaign sign
A group of people hold up dozens of large political signs, including ones that read "HOPE," "Obama," "Hillary, "I believe," "Firefighters for Dodd." Large blue cut-out letters spell "Obama" in the front. Behind them are trees and two flags flying on flagpoles.

Rob H., who at the time was our Field Director and leader of the NH primary field campaign, had many rules. One of the biggest was that signs do not win elections. Having a conversation by knocking on doors and making phone calls wins. The problem is, everyone loves to talk about and make signs. He made one exception to that rule, which was during the NH primary debate in Hanover on September 26, 2007. We might have overdone it. —David G., New York

For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Then-Senator Obama in New Hampshire, January 8, 2008

January 26, 2008

Obama Wins South Carolina Primary

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Senator Barack Obama won a commanding victory over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday… Read more from the New York Times + Opens in a new tab

...we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction...

Then-Senator Obama's Speech on Race, March 18, 2008

White button with a basketball and hoop. Barack Obama is written across the top.

I bought this pin from a street vendor in Chicago during the summer of 2008. I also love basketball, so I thought it was fun to have a candidate who played the game. It gave me something to relate to about him. It made him "like us." —Karen J., Illinois

Three light-skinned, dark-haired women crouch down by their black-and-white  dog and an orange sign that reads "Bakin' and Barkin' for OBAMA."

May 7, 2008

Obama Clinches N. Carolina, Clinton Wins Indiana

Sen. Barack Obama won a decisive, double-digit victory in North Carolina’s Democratic primary Tuesday… Listen to more from NPR + Opens in a new tab

As the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Senator Obama speaks to his campaign staff in Chicago.

June 4, 2008

Obama Clinches Nomination; First Black Candidate to Lead a Major Party Ticket

Senator Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday evening, prevailing through an epic battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a primary campaign that inspired millions of voters from every corner of America to demand change… Read more from the New York Times + Opens in a new tab

Man wearing a black hat carries a sign with a photo of then-Senator Obama in 2008.

This was candidate Obama's Labor day rally in Detroit. The people in this photo were marching down Woodward Ave, heading to his speech to be given at Hart Plaza. —Darrett P., Michigan

Woman sits on a young man's shoulders holding a pro-Obama sign.

This photo was taken on the second or third night of the convention, at one of the news booths with people discussing the speeches each night. I am sitting on Remi’s shoulders to try to get into view of the cameras, to display one of the homemade Obama shirts we were selling on the streets of Denver throughout the convention. Remi’s family T-shirt company designed the shirt, and we spent 20 hours a day that week wandering the streets distributing the shirts to as many people as possible. We met people from all walks of life during those four days, and the conversations we struck up with strangers was my favorite part of the event.

Joe Biden and Barack Obama embrace in a hug. Biden's face can be seen smiling and he wears a watch on the arm around Obama, who faces away from the camera.

August 23, 2008

Obama Chooses Biden as Running Mate

WASHINGTON — Senator  Barack Opens in a new tab  Obama has chosen Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware to be his running mate… Read more from the New York Times + Opens in a new tab

August 28, 2008

Obama accepts Democratic nomination

Sen. Barack Obama accepted his historic Democratic nomination for president tonight in front of an adoring, energized crowd of some 80,000… Read more from The Denver Post + Opens in a new tab

Bright spotlights light up a White man with white hair and white mustache as stands sideways in front of a blue pole with a sign reading "Illinois 08 DNC." People in suit jackets stand behind him.

Michael M. serves as a first time delegate at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver.

That's the promise of America — the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

Then-Senator Obama in Denver on August 28, 2008

A White woman wearing glasses looks down at her hand as she uses red frosting to decorate blue, red and white cookies in the Obama election campaign "O" logo. There are about 20 cookies on a countertop in front of her.

I made 20 dozen sugar cookies and decorated them with the Obama logo. —Karen J., Iowa

Barack Obama's speech tonight was marvelous, hitting all the right notes...A number of people said they expected to be emotionally moved to tears, but instead, found themselves fired up for action.

Michael M., Illinois

Barack Obama, wearing a suit and tie, poses for the camera with his arm on the shoulder of a Black woman wearing a patterned dress and name tag. They appear to be at a gathering, as people can be seen milling around behind them.

Then-Senator Obama smiles for a photo with a supporter.

September 12, 2008

McCain, Obama find common ground on national service

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama showed Thursday night that they have more common ground than differences when it comes to making national service a priority in their presidential administrations… Read more from CNN + Opens in a new tab

Hear the story behind the iconic photo of President Obama holding hands with his mother-in-law, Mrs. Robinson, and what that moment meant to her and the course of history.

November 4, 2008

Barack Obama Wins Presidency

In an extraordinary moment in America’s history, Democratic presidential nominee  Barack Obama Opens in a new tab  has won the 2008 presidential election and will become the 44th president of the United States and the country’s first African-American leader…. Read more from CBS News + Opens in a new tab

A huge crowd stretches across a large park, lit up by bright lights. At the lower left-hand corner, President Barack Obama waves at the crowd, while his wife and daughters walk off a large stage carpeted in blue.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you. — President-Elect Obama in Chicago's Grant Park, November 4, 2008

I was living in Ireland at the time. It was quiet—3 AM, when the polling numbers rolled in. I was beside myself. Literally twitching with excitement. It was a moment I will never forget in my lifetime. We had elected an African-American President. I was extremely proud in that moment to be an American.

Susan M., Washington, DC

Two smiling medium-dark skin toned women hold up "Obama Biden" signs.

My 16 year old daughter Kayla and her best friend Kayla celebrating that night in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. I was driving from the phone bank where our San Diego based team had just completed 12 hours of calling into swing states. As I was pulling up to the election night celebration where my volunteers were waiting Ohio was called for Obama on the radio and I let out a scream. As people on the busy downtown street looked I see what was wrong I rolled down my windows and yelled “Obama won, Obama won!” A spontaneous round of applause started. —Regina M., California

The front page of Le Monde newspaper with the headline "L'Amerique choisit Barack Obama" and a photo of Barack Obama pointing to the left.

The front page of Le Monde announcing President-Elect Obama's victory.

Evelyn C. shares her memories from election night.

A person with their mouth open is cropped partially out of the photo. They hold up a white t-shirt with the words "YES WE DID" in bold, black letters.

We waited in line all day to secure the best possible location to watch the 2008 Election Night Rally in Grant Park. After the gates opened, we ran as quickly as possible so that we could stand in the front row. The excitement and energy that I felt that day was unlike anything else I have experienced. It felt as though we were part of a great moment in history. —Sonia B., Illinois

On the night of the election in 2008, I was returning home from work on a packed bus. Usually, a Seattle bus ride is quiet, but people were stirring that night; there was a lot of excited chatter. The bus driver announced "I got to pull over. I need a minute." He was crying happy tears, and so was I.

Carla H., Washington

A crowd of people look at something not shown in the photo. Some seem happy, some surprised and others unmoved. A city skyline is lit up behind them in the dark.

Supporters listen to President-elect Obama's remarks in Chicago's Grant Park.

Cortney C. shares her memories from election night.

A young boy with medium skin tone and black short hair stands with his arms behind his back as he watches a large television screen with Barack Obama speaking at a microphone. There appear to be family photos on the yellow wall behind him.

This is a photo of my then 8 year old son, Daniel, during President Obama’s election night speech. I remember sitting on the sofa and watching my son get closer and closer to the television set. I saw him enthralled and in awe. I saw his face change expression while listening to the President speak. It brought me to tears and I knew that I had to capture this moment because one day he would appreciate having it. At the end of the speech he turned to me, and very seriously said, “I look like him. And I think I’m proud of him.” Then he walked out of the room. It was a moment that I’ll never forget. —Jacquelyn N., California

I was watching TV in Nairobi and praying for Barack to win. It was the greatest moment for me, because change had come to the world, and it marked a new beginning for those of us who believed in the change he represented.

Amos O., Kenya

A framed collage of newspaper clippings about Barack Obama's presidential win with a portrait of his head drawn in black on top.

This is a drawing that was created by my next door neighbor Rebecca Crouch. It is Obama's face drawn over newspapers that are highlighting his election. It sums up the election so well. —Margo S., Illinois

Two excited-looking teenagers hold up newspapers that read "Election 2008, Wisconsin State Journal, "Change Has Come." One wears braces and a jacket with a button reading "Obama Biden."

Wisconsinites show their excitement after President-Elect Obama's victory.

Dillon M. shares their memories from election night.

A long-distance view of the U.S. Capitol building, draped in U.S. flags. A large crowd in front waves smaller flags in the air.

We were so exhausted, a bit frozen, but SO happy and honored to have been there to watch President Obama take the oath of office and give his inaugural speech.

Ashlie L., Fairfield, CA

An image compilation of a blue, green. and brown poster with a tree, Obama rising sun logo, and "progress", a red, white, and blue Obama '08 campaign poster, black Obama '08 legacy campaign hat

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