WASHINGTON — As the November 6 election nears, President Barack Obama seems to have come back from his poor performance at the first presidential election debate against contender Mitt Romney. In the campaign’s final days, Obama is trying to project himself as presidential and in charge.
Four years ago, Obama was elected 44th president of the United States. The Democratic Party nominated him at a highly charged convention that focused on public disenchantment with the nation’s struggling economy. Obama capitalized on the issue with his motto, “Change We Can Believe In.”
The president has been in the White House now for nearly four years. The economy has improved, but not as much as many hoped. Some political experts say Obama has learned the vast difference between campaigning and governing.
Jennifer Lawless directs the Women & Politics Institute at American University.
“A lot of the promises he made were contingent on the idea there would be some kind of bipartisan effort in Washington. And right after John Boehner was elected speaker of the House of Representatives, it became clear that the Republicans' number one goal was to make sure that was not going to happen,” said Lawless.
One example is the so-called Dream Act. It would have granted citizenship to law-abiding immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. It was endorsed by the president, but never made it out of Congress.
In June, Obama announced that the U.S. will temporarily stop deporting the immigrants who qualified under the Dream Act. Meanwhile, his administration has deported more illegal immigrants than any president in history.
Obama kept his campaign promise to reform the nation’s health care system. While the resulting law has been highly controversial, the Supreme Court upheld its major provisions.
He pushed for, and Congress approved, a $787-billion economic stimulus package and then implemented a bailout for American automakers General Motors and Chrysler.
On Obama’s watch, Osama bin Laden, blamed for the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, was located in Pakistan and killed in a surprise military operation.
The president withdrew U.S. forces from Iraq, increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and signed a new arms control treaty with Russia.
Obama is the first African-American to be elected president. He also is the first sitting president to support legalizing same-sex marriage.
As Obama faced his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney, in their first debate, the president enjoyed a small but consistent lead in national public opinion polls. But the president performed poorly in that debate and Romney gained ground.
Obama has been directing his campaign message mostly to younger voters, women, minorities and the middle class. In recent weeks, the country's economy improved marginally,which could help the president.
In the final week of the campaign, Obama cancelled campaign appearances to direct the government’s response to Hurricane Sandy. The Republican governor of New Jersey, who had been a harsh critic, praised Obama for his role in the disaster.
Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. He and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Vice President Joe Biden again joins Obama on the Democratic ticket. Biden was a six-term U.S. senator and is considered a foreign policy expert.