Reaching out
15 Images

Candidate Obama

Iowa’s wide summer sky frames Barack Obama, who has made a point of reaching out to people tired of divisive politics. In the state’s intimate settings, where voters come in person to take the measure of the candidate, his rhetoric has been mild. He’s sometimes criticized as too conciliatory. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
The competition intensified with Obama’s surge in Iowa polls. Hillary Rodham Clinton went on the offensive, citing what she cast as gaps between his rhetoric and performance. “Now the fun part starts,” she said, with a month to go before Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucuses. Obama retorted in a statement, “This presidential campaign isn’t about attacking people for fun. It’s about solving people’s problems, like ending this war and creating a universal healthcare system.” (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
The Secret Service remains at a discreet but watchful distance as Obama consults with his Iowa communications director in a Des Moines hotel in July. Obama was assigned federal protection in May. According to one expert on extremist websites, at the beginning of the year there was a “spike in chatter” about him, including guarded musings about violence. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
The stakes could not be higher for Democratic candidates than in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first voting for the presidential nomination. Here, Obama arrives at a “rural issues summit” on a family farm in Adel — one in a series of campaign events intended to illustrate his keenness to hear from the public to shape ideas and work toward change. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Obama appears at a “meet the candidate” event in New Hampshire in July. He stepped onto the national stage in 2004 with a stirring speech on the “audacity of hope” at the Democratic National Convention. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Iowans wave as Obama’s motorcade arrives in Adel. His greatest appeal is among younger voters, but he has been making inroads among the state’s seniors, who tend to dominate the caucuses. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
At Rogers Market in Janesville, Obama picks up 20 ears of corn and other produce — and, he hopes, a vote from Bonnie Rogers — on his way to a barbecue, where his campaign held a question-and-answer session with 10 Iowans. The state’s small size and caucus structure promote (or maybe demand) such intimacy. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
For the Walk a Day in My Shoes campaign, organized by the Service Employees International Union, Obama had breakfast with an Alameda family, then headed out with home-care worker Pauline Beck, lower left. He did laundry, cleaned, dusted, made the bed and washed dishes for 86-year-old John Thornton of Oakland. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
At a pizza joint in Manchester, N.H., Shannon Rosario snaps a cellphone picture of Obama. Everywhere he goes, he gets a star’s welcome, but that hasn’t translated into national poll numbers. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Six-year-old Sasha Obama climbed onto her dad’s lap on the campaign RV after lunch and some card-playing. In a survey of candidates, the Associated Press asked each to identify a hidden talent; Obama replied, “I’m a pretty good poker player.” (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
At the Democratic candidates’ first debate in Iowa, Obama joked that he had prepared by riding the bumper cars at the State Fair. That’s his daughter Sasha, 6, next to him. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Political observers often use the phrase “rock star” to describe Obama, and the media crush that surrounds him — here at the Iowa State Fair in August — certainly doesn’t undercut the notion. But he also tends to hold himself at a bit of a remove; he isn’t the hugger that, say, Bill Clinton is, and he forges connections through the spoken word more than touch. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Of course, there are hugs and then there are hugs: Daughter Malia, 9, says goodbye on the campaign RV before Obama’s wife, Michelle, 43, takes their two children back to Chicago. He had to make two campaign promises to his family: For his wife, he had to agree to quit smoking or he couldn’t run; for his daughters, he had to agree they could get a dog. The Obamas celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary in October. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Obama has become something of a sex symbol. He was on the cover of the September GQ and the September/October Men’s Vogue, and he and his wife were on Ebony’s cover in February. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
The youth demographic is often seen as apathetic, but Max Swinton, 5, puts the lie to that, greeting Obama at Cedar Bridge County Park in Iowa. The campaign often emphasizes Obama’s relative youth, casting him as the only candidate able to deliver real change, and as a model for the future. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)