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.