February 10, 2007 – Barack Hussein Obama II, the handsome, intelligent, charismatic junior Senator from Illinois announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. The choice of the announcement site was especially meaningful because it was also where Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic “House Divided” speech in 1858. Obama emphasized issues of the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and reforming the American health care system, in a campaign that projected themes of Hope and Change.
Other candidates announced that they would enter the Democratic Party presidential primaries, including Senator Joe Biden, former Senator and serial adulterer John Edwards, Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, Senator Chris Dodd, UFO enthusiast Representative Dennis Kucinich, and Libertarian former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel.
By late spring 2008, the field had narrowed to Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, with the race remaining close throughout the primary process but with Obama gaining a steady lead in pledged delegates due to better long-range planning, superior fundraising, dominant organizing in caucus states, and better use of delegate allocation rules. On June 7, 2008, Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama.