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Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. This speech rocketed him onto the national stage and might still be considered his greatest speech ever. It was pretty much Obama's version of Kanye's "Jesus Walks." In fact, "Jesus Walks" came out in May 2004. Coincidence? We'll let you decide.
In congressional elections, Democrats took over the Senate and the House of Representatives. This was not good news for George W. Bush, who spent the rest of his presidency fending off Democratic criticisms like a guy playing Fruit Ninja.
The Bush administration decided to escalate the war in Iraq in order to bring stability to the war-torn country. By this time, the Iraq War was extremely unpopular, and it became a yuge election issue. Obama promised to end the war.
Barack Obama announced his intent to run for president. Nobody really thought he had a chance until, naturally, he went on Oprah. She even endorsed him by calling him "the one" (source). Pressure much?
Hillary Clinton had been the favorite to secure the Democratic nomination, but Obama upset her by winning just enough votes in key states. During the brutal contest, Clinton compared herself to Rocky in order to encourage her supporters to stick with her. She apparently forgot that Rocky loses to Apollo Creed in the end.
Lehman Brothers, one of the nation's iconic financial institutions, had to declare bankruptcy. This was sort of like if Delta stopped flying planes. The collapse of Lehman Brothers became a symbol of the country's overall economic decline, which affected both Wall Street and Main Street. It was a doozy.
Obama's opponent in the 2008 election was John McCain, a veteran senator and Vietnam War hero. But a lot of voters were fed up with the Republican Party, partially because of the Iraq War and partially because the Democrats convinced them that George W. Bush was to blame for the financial crisis. Unkind, but effective.
American voters elected Barack Obama the 44th president of the United States. And oh, by the way, he was the first African American man to attain the nation's highest office. Even his opponents admitted this was pretty special.
Before Obama took office, President Bush put together a "bailout" of the economy. Basically, the plan was to use government funds to save failing financial institutions. Bush agreed to let Obama be in charge of half the money in the $700 billion payout, which is like letting your frenemy be in charge of one of your Ferraris. The Democrats were annoyed with Bush, claiming he gave too much money to CEOs and big banks. Obama followed up Bush's bailout package with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a stimulus package that put even more government money into the economy. So much money got thrown around, it makes us dizzy.
It was pretty cold that day, as was Obama's speech delivery. Brrrr.
Turns out, 2008 was no fluke. Convinced that he'd done well enough in his first term, America gave the president a chance to go after the change he wanted for another four years.