When President George W. Bush left office after a second term, the Republican candidate aiming to replace him was Arizona senator John McCain, along with Sarah Palin (the first female nominated to a Republican national ticket). They were up against Illinois senator Barack Obama, with Joe Biden for vice president. McCain’s popularity was weakened by his choice of inexperienced Palin as running mate, along with the legacy of the unpopular Bush administration, a failed handling of the financial crisis and weak debating skills. Stressing ‘the need for change’, charismatic Obama was ahead in the opinion polls and withstood McCain’s claims of inexperience and socialist leanings. The well-funded Obama camp launched a website, played upon McCain’s relationship with disliked George W. Bush, demonstrated great debating skills and aired a powerful ‘infomercial’. Obama particularly appealed to minority and young voters and, after the highest voter turn out for 40 years, became the first African American president.
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