A special charisma, the knack of having just the right word, his ease in front of the cameras and a simple message of change. Barack Obama has created a legend for our time, the success of an unlikely candidate for the White House.
He admitted as much himself at the Democrat convention in Denver:
“I realise that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I do not fit the typical pedigree and I have not spent my career in the halls of Washington. But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring.”
Obama’s own life story has inspired the United States. Born in Hawaii in 1961 to a Kenyan father and white woman from Kansas, he earned a law degree from Harvard and in 2004 became the country’s first black senator.
And then along came the Democrat primaries. Obama, the unknown, would have as his main adversary Hilary Clinton, already billed as the favourite for the Presidential nomination.
For 19 months, his campaign team made winning votes a priority, even in the Republican strongholds. It was also thanks to this formidable electoral machine that an enormous amount of funding was generated.
And it was always the same message, repeated at every opportunity, that Americans must overcome their differences in race, age and gender:
“The only way that we are going to solve our problems in this country is if all of us come together; black, white, hispanic, asian, native american, young, old, disabled, gay, straight. That, I think, should be our agenda.”
As a mixed-race candidate, Obama owes a lot to his wife Michelle, who embodies a success story for the black community, an example of positive integration:
“Tell them how this time, in this great country, where a girl from the south side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House, we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.”
Having won the backing of the Democrats, Obama also received the support of Colin Powell, who hailed his arrival as part of a new generation on the international scene, a “transformational figure” and someone who would make an exceptional President.