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Obama - a hard-nosed leader with charismatic speaking skills


Updated: November 7, 2012, 11:15 AM IST
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Obama - a hard-nosed leader with charismatic speaking skills
Notwithstanding strong dissatisfaction with his handling of the struggling economy, voters still remained loyal to him.

Washington: Barack Obama, who won a second term to the White House on Wednesday against all odds, is a hard-nosed leader with an even-keel temperament, charismatic speaking skills and a knack for consensus-building. 51-year-old Obama, who defied a stiff challenge from Mitt Romney to win a presidential term again, faces thorny four years ahead amid concerns over sluggish economy while his foreign policy may continue to focus on Asia-Pacific where India is being seen as a linchpin in the US strategy.

A votary of strong ties with India, domestic compulsions forced him to raise his voice against outsourcing jobs to India during his election campaign. Obama, the first ever US President to travel to India in his first term, has endorsed New Delhi for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Notwithstanding strong dissatisfaction with his handling of the struggling economy, voters still remained loyal to him. Obama recently toured the New Jersey coastline ravaged by megastorm Sandy along with its Republican Governor, with the two leaders praising each other for their response to the disaster in a rare bipartisanship.

He earned praise from the public for his response to the disaster, which claimed over 90 lives and caused an estimated economic damage of up to $50 billion. Born Barack Hussein Obama, Jr, to white-American Ann Dunham and Kenya-born Harvard-educated economist on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, he was elected the 44th President of the US on November 4, 2008 after he defeated then Republican candidate John McCain and was sworn in on January 20, 2009.

Obama had reached the White House exactly 45 years after the Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King challenged Americans to embrace his "dream" of equality. Seeking to bring in the "real change" in the US, Obama, who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, would take the oath of office for his second term on January 21, 2013 as the Constitutionally-mandated January 20 inauguration date falls
on a Sunday.

However, he faces a daunting task ahead, especially on the front of economy. The US economy has struggled a lot since Obama took office amid one of the worst economic recessions in decades, with a slow job growth and the unemployment rate remaining over 8 per cent.

Earlier, the Democratic Party suffered historic losses in the mid-term polls in November 2010, with the Republicans appearing more determined than ever to promote their conservative agenda and stymie the President's plans.

On the foreign policy front, however, Obama managed to earn crucial points by dispatching a team of commandos to kill al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad, bringing the US war in Iraq to a close and striking a new nuclear arms treaty with the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Married to Michelle and father of two daughters Sasha and Malia, Obama realised the importance of the US ties with India from the very first day of his presidency. Even before he was sworn in as the US President in January 2009, Obama as president-elect had personally called the then Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen to extend his condolences over the Mumbai terrorist attack and vowed that the US would provide all help to bring its perpetrators to justice.

Obama showed the significance he attached to India-US relationship by hosting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his First State Dinner in November 2009. A year later, he became the first US President to travel to India in his first term during which he not only declared India-US relationship as the most important relationship of the 21st century, but also endorsed India for the UN Security Council Permanent Membership, recognising the growing stature of the country at the world level.

Obama has appointed a record number of Indian-Americans to top positions in his Administration including Raj Shah as USAID Administrator and also personally lit the traditional 'diya' inside the White House to celebrate the Diwali.

It was during his first term that the India-US bilateral trade crossed the $100 billion mark. On the domestic front, the Democrats, since Obama took office, have overcome Republicans' opposition to pass an economic stimulus programme, overhaul the US healthcare system, lay down new rules for Wall Street and the banking industry, and rescue the US auto industry from collapse.

First Published: November 7, 2012, 11:15 AM IST
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