DNC speakers: What to know about Barack Obama
Former President Barack Obama will deliver remarks during the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, in support of his former Vice President Joe Biden, despite having reportedly expressed “misgivings” about his candidacy.
Here’s what you need to know about the community organizer-turned-commander-in-chief.
Obama, born in Honolulu, Hawaii, is best known as the nation’s first Black president. From age 6 to 10, Obama lived with his mother and stepfather in Indonesia, where he attended Catholic and Muslim schools. He later returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents. His birth father had left the family and later died in an automobile accident when Obama was in his early 20s.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia and a law degree from Harvard, where he became the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review. He’s married to Michelle, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, and with whom he has two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
After serving in the Illinois state Senate from 1997-2004, he won a seat in the U.S. Senate following his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in support of then-nominee John Kerry. It was after this address that Obama became a household name and was widely recognized among many as a rising star within the party.
He was 47 at the time of his inauguration in January 2009, making him the fifth-youngest U.S. president and the 44th overall. He bested Hillary Clinton in the primary, then defeated Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the general election, by a convincing electoral margin of 365-173.
In 2009, shortly after he was sworn in as president, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but received heavy criticism for accepting it, given his limited experience in the Senate and lack of policy accomplishments up to that point.
Obama appointed two of the current Supreme Court justices, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — but received backlash for Kagan’s nomination, given the fact that she had never served as a judge. She was eventually confirmed by a heavily Democratic Senate.
He attempted to submit Merrick Garland’s name for consideration to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat, but Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky led a GOP revolt and claimed the 2016 election should be held before the seat could be filled. It was eventually filled by Neil Gorsuch after he was nominated by President Trump.
Following the controversial passage of his government healthcare bill known as Obamacare through Congress, voters repudiated Obama’s agenda by casting ballots in historic numbers against Democrats in the 2010 midterm election. Obama would not control the House for the rest of his tenure in office and would lose the Senate four years later.
He nonetheless won reelection in 2012 against Republican Mitt Romney by an electoral count of 332-206, while winning the popular vote by nearly 5 million.
He is also credited as the first sitting president to publicly endorse gay marriage in 2012.
With regard to executive action, Obama relied on unilateral authority to address issues such as climate change, illegal immigration, the DREAM Act, gun control following the Sandy Hook shooting and issued a veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Obama has been said to have played a role in Trump deciding to run for president after he publicly poked fun at him during a White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 2011. Trump had begun the feud by pushing for Obama to release his birth certificate to the public.
A recent report from Politico claimed the Chicago Democrat had “misgivings” about Biden’s presidential prospects and saw Hillary Clinton as a more logical successor.
His speech will serve as the convention’s keynote address on Wednesday and will take place at 10 p.m., following remarks from vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.