Hillary was raised in a middle-class family in the middle of America. From that classic suburban childhood in Park Ridge, Illinois, Hillary went on to become one of America's foremost advocates for children and families; an attorney twice voted one of the most influential in America; a First Lady of Arkansas who helped transform the schools; a bestselling author; a First Lady for America who helped transform that role, becoming a champion for health care and families at home and a champion of women's rights and human rights around the world.
Since her path-breaking election to the United States Senate, Hillary has been a steadfast advocate for middle-class families, working to help create jobs, expand children's health care and protect Social Security from privatization. As the Senator representing New York after 9/11, Hillary has fought to strengthen our approach to homeland security and to improve our communications and intelligence operations. As the first New Yorker ever named to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hillary has been a tough critic of the administration's bungling of Iraq and a fierce advocate for proper equipment, health benefits, and treatment for military families.
John Edwards was born in Seneca, South Carolina and raised in Robbins, North Carolina, a small town in the Piedmont. There John learned the values of hard work and perseverance from his father, Wallace, who worked in the textile mills for 36 years, and from his mother, Bobbie, who ran a shop and worked at the post office. Working alongside his father at the mill, John developed his strong belief that all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to succeed and be heard.
A proud product of public schools, John became the first person in his family to attend college. He worked his way through North Carolina State University where he graduated with high honors in 1974, and then earned a law degree with honors in 1977 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For the next 20 years, John dedicated his career to representing families and children just like the families he grew up with in Robbins. Standing up against the powerful insurance industry and their armies of lawyers, John helped these families through the darkest moments of their lives to overcome tremendous challenges. His passionate advocacy for people like the folks who worked in the mill with his father earned him respect and recognition across the country.
In 1998, John took this commitment into politics to give a voice in the United States Senate to the people he had represented throughout his career. He ran for the Senate and won, defeating an incumbent Senator.
In Congress, Senator Edwards quickly emerged as a champion for the issues that make a difference to American families: quality health care, better schools, protecting civil liberties, preserving the environment, saving Social Security and Medicare, and reforming the ways campaigns are financed.
As a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Edwards worked tirelessly for a strong national defense and to strengthen the security of our homeland. He authored key pieces of legislation on cyber, bio, and port security.
Senator Edwards brought a positive message of change to the 2004 presidential primaries. During the primary season he spoke about the two Americas that exist in our country today: one for people at the top who have everything they need and one for everybody else who struggle to get by. This powerful message resonated with voters all across America.
After the Democratic primaries, Senator John Kerry picked Senator Edwards to serve as his running mate in the 2004 general election, and Senator Edwards crisscrossed the country and campaigned tirelessly on Senator Kerry's behalf.
He is the former Director of the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Senator Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, whom he met when both were law students at Chapel Hill, were married in 1977. They have had four children, including: their eldest daughter, Catharine, who is attending law school; nine-year-old Emma Claire; and a seven-year-old son, Jack. Their first child, Wade, died in 1996.
Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was born and raised in a small village in Kenya, where he grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British.
Barack's mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in small-town Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression, and then signed up for World War II after Pearl Harbor, where he marched across Europe in Patton's army. Her mother went to work on a bomber assembly line, and after the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved west to Hawaii.
It was there, at the University of Hawaii, where Barack's parents met. His mother was a student there, and his father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya and pursue his dreams in America.
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Barack's father eventually returned to Kenya, and Barack grew up with his mother in Hawaii, and for a few years in Indonesia. Later, he moved to New York, where he graduated from Columbia University in 1983.
Remembering the values of empathy and service that his mother taught him, Barack put law school and corporate life on hold after college and moved to Chicago in 1985, where he became a community organizer with a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment.
The group had some success, but Barack had come to realize that in order to truly improve the lives of people in that community and other communities, it would take not just a change at the local level, but a change in our laws and in our politics.
He went on to earn his law degree from Harvard in 1991, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Soon after, he returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer and teach constitutional law. Finally, his advocacy work led him to run for the Illinois State Senate, where he served for eight years. In 2004, he became the third African American since Reconstruction to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
It has been the rich and varied experiences of Barack Obama's life - growing up in different places with people who had differing ideas - that have animated his political journey. Amid the partisanship and bickering of today's public debate, he still believes in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose - a politics that puts solving the challenges of everyday Americans ahead of partisan calculation and political gain.
In the Illinois State Senate, this meant working with both Democrats and Republicans to help working families get ahead by creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which in three years provided over $100 million in tax cuts to families across the state. He also pushed through an expansion of early childhood education, and after a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Senator Obama worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.
In the U.S. Senate, he has focused on tackling the challenges of a globalized, 21st century world with fresh thinking and a politics that no longer settles for the lowest common denominator. His first law was passed with Republican Tom Coburn, a measure to rebuild trust in government by allowing every American to go online and see how and where every dime of their tax dollars is spent. He has also been the lead voice in championing ethics reform that would root out Jack Abramoff-style corruption in Congress.
As a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Obama has fought to help Illinois veterans get the disability pay they were promised, while working to prepare the VA for the return of the thousands of veterans who will need care after Iraq and Afghanistan. Recognizing the terrorist threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, he traveled to Russia with Republican Dick Lugar to begin a new generation of non-proliferation efforts designed to find and secure deadly weapons around the world. And knowing the threat we face to our economy and our security from America's addiction to oil, he's working to bring auto companies, unions, farmers, businesses and politicians of both parties together to promote the greater use of alternative fuels and higher fuel standards in our cars.
Whether it's the poverty exposed by Katrina, the genocide in Darfur, or the role of faith in our politics, Barack Obama continues to speak out on the issues that will define America in the 21st century. But above all his accomplishments and experiences, he is most proud and grateful for his family. His wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6, live on Chicago's South Side where they attend Trinity United Church of Christ.