Obama Wins in Landslide Victory
By Paul Hughes
Chicago,IL(RushPRnews)11/04/08-Democrat Barack Obama soundlyÂ defeated Republican John McCain to become the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday in a historic election that sends the first African-American to the White House and ends a grueling campaign marked by come-from-behind crusades by each candidate, accusations of voter registration fraud leveled by both political parties and an economic crisis unparalleled since the Great Depression.
Late returns showed Obama had 334 electoral votes and McCain had 155, according to the New York Times. At least 270 electoral votes are needed to win. The Associated Press reported at 8 p.m. pacific standard time that the 47-year-old first-term senator from Illinois captured the electoral votes from the battleground states of Ohio (20) and Pennsylvania (21) which were seen as critical for either candidate to win.
Obama delivered a victory speech to thousands of supporters who had gathered at Grant Park in Chicago.
â€œIf there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,â€ he told the crowd during his victory speech.
Obamaâ€™s election marks the first time since John F. Kennedy in 1960 that an incumbent member of Congress was elected president. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Obamaâ€™s running mate, will be the next vice president.
â€œIt only makes sense that after eight years of craziness, we went from one end of the spectrum to the other, from Bush to Obama,â€ Atlanta resident and Obama supporter Steven Harvey told Rushprnews.
â€œIâ€™m an Obama supporter, so Iâ€™m pretty excited,â€ said Linda Seger, a resident of Colorado, one of several so-called battleground states that appeared going for Obama. Seger, a poll watcher for a congressional candidate in that state, said she started out as a Republican, but became disenfranchised with the party over the Vietnam War and has been voting Democrat since 1972.
Seger wrote the book, â€œJesus Rode a Donkey: Why the Republicans Donâ€™t Have a Corner on Christ,â€ and predicted that when all the ballots are tallied, it will be discovered that many evangelicals voted for Obama.
Obamaâ€™s election marks a return to the White House for Democrats for the first time since Bill Clinton left office in 2001. The party lost controversial elections to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
Obama, who campaigned on the slogan â€œChange We Need,â€ launched his campaign in the bitter cold of Abraham Lincolnâ€™s adopted hometown of Springfield IL in February 2007 and spent the next 21 months fending off accusations that he was too young, too radical and too inexperienced for the nationâ€™s top job.
Questions about Obamaâ€™s character and choice of associates were also raised. He was a long-time friend of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose fiery sermons were criticized as anti-American.Â Â He was also accused of being an ally of William Ayers, a leader of the 1960s domestic terrorist group the Weathermen but who has since reformed and is now a Chicago educator.
In his campaign, Obama pledged tax cuts for citizens making up to $250,000 a year â€“ 95 percent of the population â€“ and promised that affordable health insurance would be available for the nationâ€™s uninsurable and low income residents.
â€œIf he performs the way he said he will, that would be good,â€ said McCain supporter Kay Barnard, a resident of Brea, CA in conservative Orange County. â€œBut he canâ€™t lower taxes and give us more benefit.â€
Both Obama and McCain spent the waning days leading up to Tuesday campaigning in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Florida, areas of the country that were pivotal in the previous two elections.
McCain, a Vietnam war hero with the scars to prove it and who was virtually written off as a potential Republican nominee for president barely a year ago, spent much of the campaign fending off charges that hisÂ voting record in the senate and proposed economic policies made him appear too much like an unpopular President Bush.
McCainâ€™s age and health â€“ he is 72 and a cancer survivor â€“ were also concerns raised during the campaign.
While some said his choice for a running mate, the firebrand Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, gave his campaign the youthful energy it needed, others â€“ including some members of his own party — were critical of Palin, 44, and questioned her ability to be president in the event something detrimental happened to McCain.
The Arizona senator countered the negative charges in often blistery and eloquent tones, declaring in the third and final debate, â€œI am not George Bush,â€ and continuing charges throughout the campaign that Obama is a tax and spend democrat. Only days before the election, McCain appeared on â€œSaturday Night Liveâ€ and a week earlier he was a guest â€œThe Late Show with David Letterman.â€
The election also was marred by charges by republicans that a long-established grassroots organization known as ACORN that gives legislative voice to low and moderate income citizensÂ — who traditionally register as Democrats — had registered many people to vote who didnâ€™t exist. ACORN, which once employed Obama as an attorney, vehemently denied any intentional wrongdoing, but acknowledged that a small number of the 1.3 voter registrations it turned in were indeed invalid. ACORN officials said this was due to overzealous canvassers who were being paid on a per registrant basis.
Democrats, meanwhile, charged that republicans were systematically disqualifying democrats from the election rolls and hiding behind a 2002 law called the Help America to Vote Act in doing so.
John Ennis, co-founder of nonpartisan watchdog group called Video the Vote, was in the crucial state of Ohio Tuesday videotaping the voting process to ensure everything went smoothly. The organization is a national network of citizen journalists, independent filmmakers and media professional working together to document voter suppression and disenfranchisement. He said 3,000 members of the organization took video cameras to polling places throughout the nation and recorded the event.
Ohio had been particularly troublesome in the past, Ennis said. He cited several instances in recent elections in which citizens were told they were not registered and other cases in which people were required to wait for two hours or more before they could vote.
It was apparent to him that Ohio had straightened out deficiencies in its election process that were still evident as recently as the primary earlier this year. While initially hesitant about announcing who he supported, Ennis conceded that he had voted for Obama.
â€œAn Obama presidency would be a really good start to dealing with a lot of the issues that America is in. It would be a really good start,â€ Ennis said.
The campaign set new highs in terms of fundraising, and Obama was criticized by Republicans for that. Obama reportedly raised $750 million, mostly in the form of contributions of $100 or less. Much of that was collected through sophisticated email campaigns that targeted registered democrats.
David Gruder, a San Diego psychologist and author of the book, â€œThe New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World,â€ said the two candidates combined raised $1 billion and lengthened the campaign to two years. â€œ$1 billion is obscene,â€ he said.
Yet he praised Obama fundraising methods and predicted that the young chief executive would be able to â€œreach across the aisleâ€ more easily than McCain would. He said many people have compared Obama to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his ability to educate the public about relevant issues. Yet, he said a more accurate comparison might be made to Harry S. Truman.
Democratic power brokers were surprised by Trumanâ€™s refusal to kowtow to them, Gruder said, adding, â€œI feel that Obama will have a soft, velvety way of telling Democrats to go to hell.â€