President-Elect Obama Faces Daunting Challenges

WASHINGTON (AP) - His storied election behind him and weighty
problems in his face, Barack Obama turned Wednesday to the task of
building an administration in times of crisis as Americans and the
world absorbed his history-shattering achievement as the first
black leader ascending to the presidency.

With just 76 days until the inauguration, Obama is expected to
move quickly to begin assembling a White House staff and selecting
Cabinet nominees. Campaign officials said Illinois Rep. Rahm
Emanuel was the front-runner to be Obama's chief of staff. The
advisers spoke on a condition of anonymity because the announcement
had not yet been made. Obama planned daily briefings, starting

With these moves and many others to come upon him quickly, Obama enjoyed an everyman day-after in his hometown of Chicago on
Wednesday after an electric night of celebration, anchored by his
victory rally of 125,000 in Chicago and joyful outpourings of his
supporters across the country. The president-elect saw his two
young daughters off to school, a simple pleasure he's missed during
nearly two years of virtually nonstop travel, and then a workout.

President Bush pledged "complete cooperation" in the
transition and called Obama's victory a "triumph of the American

Naming the staggering list of problems he inherits in his
decisive defeat of Republican John McCain - two wars and "the
worst financial crisis in a century," among them - Obama sought to
restrain the soaring expectations of his supporters late Tuesday
night even as he stoked them with impassioned calls for national
unity and partisan healing.

"We may not get there in one year or even in one term," he
said. "But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am
tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will
get there."

Helping him to get there will be a strengthened Democratic
majority in both houses of Congress. When Obama becomes the
president on Jan. 20, with Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his vice
president, Democrats will control both the White House and Congress
for the first time since 1994.

A tide of international goodwill came Obama's way on Wednesday
morning, even as developments made clear how heavy a weight will
soon be on his shoulders.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a congratulatory
telegram saying there is "solid positive potential" for the
election to improve strained relations between Washington and
Moscow, if Obama engages in constructive dialogue.

Yet he appeared to be deliberately provocative hours after the
election with sharp criticism of the U.S. and his announcement that
Russia will deploy missiles near NATO member Poland in response to
U.S. missile defense plans.

In Afghanistan, where villagers said the U.S. bombed a wedding
party and killed 37 people, President Hamid Karzai said: "This is
my first demand of the new president of the United States - to put
an end to civilian casualties."

Young and charismatic but with little experience on the national
level or as an executive, Obama easily defeated McCain, smashing
records and remaking history along the way.

Ending an improbable journey that started for Obama a long 21
months ago, he drew a record-breaking $700 million to his campaign
account alone. The first African-American destined to sit in the
Oval Office, he also was the first Democrat to receive more than 50
percent of the popular vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976. He is the
first senator elected to the White House since John F. Kennedy in

And Obama scored an Electoral College landslide that redrew
America's political dynamics. He won states that reliably voted
Republican in presidential elections, such as Indiana and Virginia,
which hadn't supported a Democratic candidate in 44 years. Ohio and
Florida, key to President Bush's twin victories, also went for
Obama, as did Pennsylvania, which McCain had deemed crucial for his
election hopes.

With most U.S. precincts tallied, the popular vote was 52.3
percent for Obama and 46.4 percent for McCain. But the count in the
Electoral College was much more lopsided - 349 to 147 in Obama's
favor as of early Wednesday, with three states still to be decided.
Those were North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri.

The nation awakened to the new reality at daybreak, a short
night after millions witnessed Obama's election - an event so rare
it could not be called a once-in-a-century happening. Prominent
black leaders wept unabashedly in public, rejoicing in the
elevation of one of their own, at long last.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had made two White House bids
himself, said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that the tears
streaming down his face upon Obama's victory were about his father
and grandmother and "those who paved the fights. And then that
Barack's so majestic."

Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and leading player in the
civil rights movement with Jackson, said on NBC's "Today" show:
"He's going to call on us, I believe, to sacrifice. We all must
give up something."

Speaking from Hong Kong, retired Gen. Colin Powell, the black
Republican whose endorsement of Obama symbolized the candidate's
bipartisan reach and bolstered him against charges of inexperience,
called the senator's victory "a very very historic occasion." But
he also predicted that Obama would be "a president for all

On Capitol Hill, Democrats ousted incumbent GOP Sens. Elizabeth
Dole of North Carolina and John Sununu of New Hampshire and
captured seats held by retiring Republican senators in Virginia,
New Mexico and Colorado. Still, the GOP blocked a complete rout,
holding the Kentucky seat of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
and a Mississippi seat once held by Trent Lott.

The Associated Press prematurely declared incumbent Sen. Norm
Coleman the winner in a race against Democratic former comedian Al
Franken that by state law is subject to a recount based on the
571-vote margin. The party also held onto a Mississippi seat once
held by Trent Lott.

In the House, with fewer than a dozen races still undecided,
Democrats captured Republican-held seats in the Northeast, South
and West and were on a path to pick up as many as 20 seats.

"It is not a mandate for a party or ideology but a mandate for
change," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

After the longest and costliest campaign in U.S. history, Obama
was propelled to victory by voters dismayed by eight years of
Bush's presidency and deeply anxious about rising unemployment and
home foreclosures and a battered stock market that has erased
trillions of dollars of savings for Americans.

Six in 10 voters picked the economy as the most important issue
facing the nation in an Associated Press exit poll. None of the
other top issues - energy, Iraq, terrorism and health care - was
selected by more than one in 10. Obama has promised to cut taxes
for most Americans, get the United States out of Iraq and expand
health care, including mandatory coverage for children.

McCain conceded defeat shortly after 11 p.m. EST, telling
supporters outside the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, "The American
people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly."

"This is an historic election, and I recognize the special
significance it has for African-Americans and the special pride
that must be theirs tonight," McCain said. "These are difficult
times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my
power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face."

The son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, the
47-year-old Obama has had a startlingly rapid rise, from lawyer and
community organizer to state legislator and U.S. senator, now not
even four years into his first term.

Almost six in 10 women supported Obama nationwide, while men
leaned his way by a narrow margin, according to interviews with
voters. Just over half of whites supported McCain, giving him a
slim advantage in a group that Bush carried overwhelmingly in 2004.

The results of the AP survey were based on a preliminary partial
sample of nearly 10,000 voters in Election Day polls and in
telephone interviews over the past week for early voters.

In terms of turnout, America voted in record numbers. It looks
like 136.6 million Americans will have voted for president this
election, based on 88 percent of the country's precincts tallied
and projections for absentee ballots, said Michael McDonald of
George Mason University. Using his methods, that would give 2008 a
64.1 percent turnout rate, the highest since 65.7 percent in 1908,
he said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by HM on Nov 11, 2008 at 06:43 PM
    The reason the UMWA was 100% for Obama is because he promised the UMWA he would get a bill passed for them so it would be easier for them to get their union in workplaces. Obama told them he would get this done if they helped vote him in. The union and Obama, HA, what a good pair!!
  • by Motley Location: Louisa, KY on Nov 9, 2008 at 08:59 PM
    Carrie: it looks like the devil hasn't plagued you with the demons of intelligence in the area of remotely proper grammar. But yes, the devil. He's the reason I'm a nonbeliever. Well, that's fine by me. Heaven is boring. You're given a new body a new spirit and thus become someone else. Heaven could be shrek starting blankly at you forever and ever and you believe you're having the time of your life... all things considered, I'd rather burn and still be me. If that's ignorance, I'm proud to be ignorant. But hey, your fairytale is amusing to me, so keep up the good work! Maybe you can strive to make yourself look even MORE ridiculous!
  • by Danny on Nov 8, 2008 at 04:10 AM
    Keep democrats away from your kids they will ruin them,and destory your family.
  • by CARRIE Location: WACO on Nov 7, 2008 at 10:20 PM
    TO MONTLEY: I am sorry that you believe that way. I will pray for that God have mercy on your soul for being so ignorant. Sounds like the devil has you just where he wants.
  • by LOL Location: KY on Nov 7, 2008 at 07:33 PM
    Here we go comparing Obama to Jesus...Good Grief, how much koolaid have you people drunk?
  • by steve Location: irvine on Nov 7, 2008 at 04:13 PM
    Isn't it strange that liberal democrats are always thinking about race and never about policies Obamas skin does not bother me i live in Kentucky all my life i am not a raciest never have been my great great grandpa was in the union army in the civil war. What i have a problem with is his liberal cronies and policies he is just a jimmy carter the second with bill Clinton's left overs that's all an ultra liberal nothing no different.
  • by James Location: Magoffin on Nov 7, 2008 at 03:36 PM
    America got herself a "pig-in-the Poke" if you ask me!
  • by christ lover on Nov 7, 2008 at 03:13 PM
    For those of you on here complaining about Obama and his administration, get over it. It will be more ethnic presidents in our future. If you are upset, pray about it and pray for our nation.
  • by Terri Location: Lexington on Nov 7, 2008 at 02:38 PM
    We will get there! We will get there! Where are we going? Last week the job of the media was to hold the government accountable. Today it is to make this president-elect a success. Seventy five days before January 20 and he is already the greatest president the U.S. has ever had. May God have mercy on our country.
  • by Realist Location: E. KY on Nov 7, 2008 at 02:02 PM
    JL, God bless your naive soul! You actually believe the UMWA (and other labor unions, for that matter) have the workers' best interests at heart. It'd be sweet if it wasn't so sad.


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