On This Day Eight Years Ago, Obama Announced He Was Running for President

So far, the campaign for 2016 looks vastly different than the one for 2008.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama attends a town hall meeting on Feb. 10, 2007 at a high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after announcing his bid for president earlier in the day.
National Journal
Marina Koren
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Marina Koren
Feb. 10, 2015, 4:19 a.m.

Time flies when you’re president of the United States.

Well, maybe not. But eight years have now passed since President Obama announced his run for the White House on February 10, 2007. The then-senator from Illinois made his pitch in front of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, wearing a long overcoat in the winter cold.

“I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness — a certain audacity — to this announcement,” Obama said then. “I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.”

Obama invoked Abraham Lincoln’s “a house divided against itself cannot stand” speech condemning slavery and said he would transform a government characterized by “the failure of leadership” and “the smallness of our politics.” The full text of his speech can be found here.

The New York Times described Obama’s rise in the Democratic Party back then:

Mr. Obama has glided to his position in his party with a demeanor and series of eloquent speeches that have won him comparisons to the Kennedy brothers and put him in a position where his status as a black man with a chance to win the White House is only part of the excitement generated by his candidacy.

The Times also reported that Obama saw Hillary Clinton as his “biggest obstacle” on the campaign trail. John Edwards was also a looming threat. Eight years later, Clinton has yet to announce her all-but-certain candidacy for a 2016 presidential bid. But the former secretary of state is in no rush.

“If you’re someone who has a proven fundraising record, and everyone expects can raise upwards of over $100 million, then who cares when you announce?” Neil Reiff, a campaign finance attorney and former deputy counsel at the Democratic National Committee, told National Journal in November. “Whether she announces on March 30 or January 30, I don’t think those expectations are going to change. For her, at least.”

The Republican field, however, seems like it gets more crowded every week, with presidential hopefuls hinting at campaign points and exploratory committees. But unlike at this time in 2007, we’re still waiting on a big official announcement.

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