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Latest posts: “Indy Races” [two-part story] and “Page One” [single image].
TIP: Click on any image to jump to that frame. For other navigation tips, click on this button. The 2008 campaign turned a little-known governor from Alaska into a household name. TIP: Add music to turn this photo story into a photo opera (photo-op for short). For our musical recommendations, see credits ⁄ links page. Hillary Clinton was the Democrats’ front-runner when she announced her candidacy in January 2007, one year before the first primary votes would be cast. Indiana is significantly whiter (83% in 2007) than the U.S. as a whole (66%). The state’s median household income, $47,448 in 2007, is just below the national average of $50,740. By contrast Indiana’s Republican primary (also held May 6) was mostly a formality, since John McCain had clinched his party’s nomination in early March. White River State Park is a reclaimed industrial zone located a half-dozen blocks from downtown’s Monument Circle, the putative center of Indianapolis. A landmark greensward in Indianapolis’s central business district, American Legion Mall occupies the north end of War Memorial Plaza, a five-square-block quad just north of Monument Circle. Bill Clinton won Indiana’s Democratic primary both times he ran (1992 and 1996). Mellencamp may be Indiana’s most famous home-grown rocker. Currently in his second term as U.S. senator, Bayh is one of Indiana’s most popular Democratic politicians ever. Wonder performed at many Obama campaign events, culminating with the outdoor rally during the Democratic convention at which Obama formally accepted his party’s nomination. Homemade signs were forbidden past the security checkpoints at all of the rallies depicted in this story, notes photographer Robin Jerstad. “The signs and banners that you see in the images were given to people by [each] campaign and were strategically placed for maximum exposure to the cameras.” Bill Clinton’s enthusiasm for the hustings proved a mixed blessing for his wife’s campaign. In January the former president drew much-reported criticism for belittling an expected Obama win in South Carolina. Obama’s strength in grass-roots organizing was key to winning Iowa’s first-in-the-nation primary. For many Americans his victory speech from Iowa the evening of January 3, 2008, was their introduction to the new contender. “Change” was Obama’s dominant theme, but one month after Iowa the Democrats were down to two candidates and over the next three months, the policy differences between Clinton and Obama largely receded. In March campaign coverage focused on Obama’s association with a fiery Chicago preacher. The Jeremiah Wright controversy was displaced, in turn, by one over Obama’s description of small-town Pennsylvanians as “bitter” over job losses and “clinging” to their guns and religious beliefs as a result. Campaigning in Indiana in April Clinton called Obama’s remarks elitist and divisive. In the wake of Clinton’s Pennsylvania win, such contretemps raised the crucial question of electability: How would the Democrats’ leading candidate fare when he faced November’s nationwide referendum? Nearly 1.7 million votes were cast in Indiana’s primary—more than double the turnout in 2004. African Americans cast one in seven Democratic votes in Indiana, compared with about one in three in North Carolina, which also reported record turnout. Similar percentages of Indiana and North Carolina voters—just under half—said the Jeremiah Wright controversy was important to their vote, according to the Associated Press’s exit polling. But the economy was the number one issue for two-thirds of Indiana voters and nearly that many in North Carolina—the highest such results in the AP’s primary season polling to that date. Clinton’s failure to win the Democratic nomination was one of the biggest surprises of 2008. She nevertheless led many Americans to take seriously the idea of a female U.S. leader—a breakthrough that future chroniclers will likely compare with the history-making result that was to come in November.
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