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A long road to victory

Twists, turns, and pivot points from a lengthy presidential campaign:

Feb. 10, 2007 : Illinois Sen. Barack Obama announces his candidacy at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln served.

Dec. 9, 2007: Obama and Oprah Winfrey appear before nearly 30,000 people at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. “I've been inspired,” Winfrey says. “He speaks to the potential inside every one of us.”

Jan. 3, 2008: Obama wins the Iowa caucuses, undermining New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's status as national Democratic front-runner. Former N.C. Sen. John Edwards finishes a distant second, despite a massive commitment of time and money in the state.

Jan. 19: Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain turns back a strong challenge from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to score his first Southern primary win, in South Carolina.

Jan. 26: Obama rides a wave of support from African Americans and young voters to rout Clinton and Edwards in the S.C. Democratic primary.

Jan. 30: Edwards drops out of the race, setting the stage for a hard-fought Obama-Clinton battle that will continue into the summer.

March 4: Nine months after it appeared his campaign was over, McCain caps a remarkable political comeback with a four-state primary sweep that clinches the Republican presidential nomination.

March 18: Obama delivers a speech on race after his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is criticized for what some see as anti-American rhetoric and for characterizing white Americans as racists. Obama denounces Wright's comments as “wrong and divisive” and calls for racial unity.

May 6: Obama wins North Carolina.

June 7: Clinton suspends her campaign and urges her supporters to back Obama.

July 19-26: Obama travels to the Middle East and Europe, including stops in Afghanistan, Jordan, Iraq, Israel, France and Britain. He speaks to an estimated 200,000 on July 24 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Aug. 23: Obama tells supporters via text message that he has selected Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate.

Aug. 28: Obama accepts the Democratic nomination in a speech at Invesco Field at Mile High, capping his party's national convention in Denver.

Aug. 29: McCain picks the little-known governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his running mate. She becomes the second woman to serve on a major-party presidential ticket.

Sept. 4: McCain accepts nomination in St. Paul, Minn. “Change is coming” to Washington, he says.

Sept. 21: In Charlotte's biggest political rally in decades, about 20,000 people in uptown hear Obama link McCain and his party to an “era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington.”

Sept. 26: Obama and McCain face off in the first of three debates, an encounter that appeared in jeopardy after McCain said it should be postponed because of the worsening economic crisis.

Oct. 7: The two candidates answer questions from voters in a town hall debate in Nashville, Tenn.

Oct. 15: Obama and McCain's third and final debate at Hofstra University focuses on the economy, health care, education – and on Joe the Plumber, who encountered Obama at an Ohio campaign stop and criticized his tax plan.

Oct. 18: McCain speaks to about 7,000 people in Concord. He says of Obama: “He believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans.”

Nov. 3: In the second-to-last rally of his campaign, Obama tells supporters at UNC Charlotte to keep working to help him win. Wiping away tears, he speaks of his grandmother, a “quiet hero” who had died the day before.

Nov. 4: Obama is elected the 44th president of the United States. He carries North Carolina; John McCain carries South Carolina. Obama will be the nation's first African American president.

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