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Barack Obama: a Year as President

Mr. Obama's message for change, both in domestic and international affairs, resonated with American voters.

Barack Obama was sworn in one year ago with high public approval ratings, heralding a new chapter in American history as the first African-American president of the United States.

His message for change, both in domestic and international affairs, resonated with American voters. And more than a million people flooded Washington for his January 20, 2009 inauguration.

But as the year wore on, his public support began to slip and he faced opposition to his domestic policies, notably on reviving the faltering economy and passing health care reform. Even his most loyal supporters expressed disappointment about his compromises on health care reform and his decision to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

He was faced with many daunting challenges: the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the growing threat of al-Qaida and international terrorism, and a worsening situation in Afghanistan. He ordered the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay closed within a year. But that deadline was not met.

On the international scene, Mr. Obama handled a host of issues: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues, human rights, missile defense and climate change. He pledged a new relationship between the United States and the world's one billion Muslims.

His world travels took him to many places. Britain, China, Egypt, France, Ghana, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were among them. His international agenda in December included a U.N. conference in Copenhagen and accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo -- a prize that even his most ardent supporters said was premature.

As his first year in office drew to a close, he was called upon to act on the humanitarian disaster in Haiti from a devastating earthquake, and the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner.

And now, Mr. Obama is on the political defensive, facing a re-energized Republican Party and increasing doubts from independent voters.

An average of polls from RealClear politics shows the president has a 48 percent approval rating now - down from an average of 63 percent after he took office.

President Obama has taken great pride in his first-year achievements, telling The Washington Post in December that a lot of his promises have been kept, and when they are completed, the country will have achieved a "fundamental shift" in health care, energy, education and the U.S. financial regulatory system.

He noted domestic achievements including ensuring equal pay, expanding hate crimes categories, and extending health insurance to an additional four million children.