Barack Obama's election to the U.S. Senate in 2004 is one of the most interesting and colorful political campaigns in recent history. His rousing keynote address at the Democratic National Convention that same year made his name a household word. The "Obama for Illinois" crusade offers important insights into American politics. The authors explore the role of money, political party, ethnicity, religion, and the issues facing our society today. Obama's straightforward policy recommendations, message of hope and inclusion, and charismatic style propelled him to the national spotlight. Obama has the potential to shape America and to reshape U.S. politics as he campaigns for the White House. Obama's state senate career and his decision to enter the U.S. Senate race are examined in this book. Despite a primary field of six competitors, Obama received more than half of the Democratic vote, defeating a multimillionaire and the state comptroller, a well-known figure in the Democratic Party. The general election imploded for the Republicans in the first few weeks of the campaign when it was revealed that their candidate was embroiled in a sex scandal. Alan Keyes, the ultraconservative, outspoken African American who had run for president twice and for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, was recruited to challenge Obama. But Obama, whose skill with the media and whose ability to raise funds was evident even in those early days of his career, easily won the race with 70 percent of the vote. The authors analyze Obama's ability to speak to the concerns of multiple constituencies by appealing to a coalition of voters that transcends race, class, and gender. At the start of his presidential run, Obama gives new meaning to the American dream.