Riding with Obama

October 27, 2008
Reuters Washington staff photographer Jason Reed is traveling with the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama through election day.
It was almost four years ago when I took my first picture of a mostly unknown newly elected freshman U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois, an up-and-coming figure who now, in just a few short years has gone from political obscurity to possibly becoming the next ‘leader of the free world’.
It was the first week of January 2005 and George W. Bush had just been reelected to his second term as U.S. president. I was sent to Capitol Hill to photograph all of the new U.S. senators being ceremonially sworn in by Vice President Dick Cheney. Before I headed up to the hill the editor giving me the assignment told me to be sure to shoot and transmit pictures of an up-and-coming Democratic star being sworn in that day who I had never heard of before. His name: Barack Obama.
Senator Obama stood out that day. He was being sworn in as the only African American in the 100 member U.S. Senate and only the fifth African American senator in U.S. history.
In the couple of years after that I saw and covered Senator Obama sporadically, as he questioned appointees at Bush administration confirmation hearings, appeared with actor George Clooney to talk about Darfur at the National Press Club and joked around with Republican Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) before the start of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on Iraq.
On an arctic-chilled day in February 2007 I photographed Senator Obama as he announced the start of his candidacy for and campaign to become the President of the United States on the steps of the Illinois state Capitol building. I then traveled on to Iowa with the Senator as he started to lay the groundwork for his historic primary win there that would take place almost a year later. Now, going into the final week of the election, I have lost count of the days, weeks and months that I have traveled on the Obama campaign plane, following the Senator’s every move. The campaign has been transformed from humble beginnings, listening to the heartbeat of American voters in coffee shops across the country, where the campaign had a more grassroots feel, to the general election campaign of the Democratic Party’s nominee for President. Obama now travels in motorcades everywhere, has a campaign plane of his own, complete with a large team of Secret Service agents and a growing traveling press corps, and now can draw crowds of up to 100,000 people at his campaign rallies.

The eyes of the world are now on Senator Obama and his rival, Republican John McCain. With Obama alone, there are at least 12 photographers from the news wires, newspapers and magazines now crammed into the back of his plane, competing for the best images from each and every event as he travels from coast to coast, pushing for every last vote that he can win.

My favorite picture from the past 24 hours was a general view of Obama as he arrived at a rally in Denver, Colorado, where the largest crowd ever assembled for one of his rallies had gathered to see him. An independent count from a police chief in Denver had over 100,000 people at the downtown rally. From the moment our bus rolled up we were all impressed by the size of the crowd and the scope of this event, and the photographers all set out to find an angle that would produce a telling moment and image that captured the event. This picture is a simple overall composition that easily shows the scale of the event.

Sometimes the most simple images are the most effective in telling the story.


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Barack Obama is a man of character and strength. We need these qualities to restore faith in our government, here and abroad. God Bless American and God Bless Barack Obama.

Posted by Ira | Report as abusive

The old adage: “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies once again.

Thanks for the photos.

Posted by NParr | Report as abusive

I hope with all my heart that the folks who are so impassioned about Obama will be the same folks who hold his feet to the fire, and demand that he make good on at least some of his promises. Personally, I’m not holding my breath for that to happen, but I will vote for him as a vote against McCain. Oh, if only we could have a real democrat or a viable independent on the ticket… But I guess Obama as a republican-light will have to do.

Posted by Marla Taylor | Report as abusive

I was there. On the capital steps. It was amazing and completely inspiring.

Posted by ccdenver | Report as abusive

Non-partisan scorebook of quotes and votes:

http://www.grassfire.org/scorebook/conte nts.asp?CID=97&RID=17995362

Posted by Deah =) | Report as abusive

Obama will hold up to some of his plans, if we the American people just don’t sit back after election and not pay attention and let it go unnoticed. That’s the problem, we haven’t been paying attention and our elected officials have robbed us for years. Like Barack said, even when the election is over, you shouldn’t just stop there. If he wins, I will do my part as a citizen and pay attention and hold him and the rest of congress accountable. I’m not disillusioned that he’s the savior and will solve our problems and in fact it will take time before any of his plans can be implemented with the economic slowdown, but if I do see at least he’s making some changes, then great.

Posted by Trasa | Report as abusive

And for those paying attention, then perhaps you would be interested to pay attention to Obama’s past associations with men such as Bill Ayers and his support of Odinga in Kenya. Also look at his plan for 401ks, which would make these private retirement investments covernment controlled, and would be distributed based on how the government decided, just like Social Security. Such a plan would be no different than the government taking over private, non-retirement savings accounts. THIS is socialism, the deprevation of personal rights and property by the government, and this is what Barack Obama supports.

Posted by Jordan | Report as abusive

I really like the picture of Barack and Michelle.
It’s great

Posted by Katte Flynn | Report as abusive

[…] extenso número de imágenes ofreciendo el otro lado de la campaña en su serie Riding with Obama ([1] [2] [3] [4]… con el amigo Bill Clinton [5] [6] [7] [8]) y Riding with McCain ([1] [2] [3] [4] […]

Posted by Elecciones EEUU 2008: Obama vs. McCain – Backfocus | Report as abusive