The Washington Post

Ten years ago today, America met a guy named Barack Obama

Barack Obama, then a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois, addresses delegates at the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2004, during the second night of the event at the Fleet Center in Boston.

Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of President Obama's national debut at the Democratic National Convention. He was tasked with giving the keynote address at the 2004 event.

He told a New York Times reporter the week before the convention, ''It came as a surprise that I'd be selected for such a privileged position. As my wife reminds me, I better not screw it up.''

He didn't.

You can read the speech here.

Although Obama hadn't even been elected to the U.S. Senate yet, those watching the speech instantly labeled it "something important," and began fantasizing about how the state legislator's career would pan out.

Ben McGrath at the New Yorker noted that "By the time he delivered his rousing line, toward the end, about 'the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him,' people on the floor and in the press stands had fixed on the 'Hillary must be pissed' analysis—alternately known as 'Obama 2012.'"



Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I thought that was one of the most electrifying moments that I can remember at any convention." (She added, "I have campaigned and have done fund-raising for him, and a friend of mine asked who is this 'Barack Bama.'") Chris Matthews memorably said, "I have to tell you, a little chill in my legs right now.  That is an amazing moment in history right there.  It is surely an amazing moment.  A keynoter like I have never heard."

Obama told reporter Mark Leibovich that all the attention was "weird."

"There's this weird confluence of events that's making all this possible," he said. "But my experience in these kinds of things is that what comes up must come down."

And then the next 10 years happened.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.



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