WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States, the first African-American elevated to the White House. With victories in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other battleground states, Obama built a commanding lead over his Republican rival, John McCain. Obama surged in the polls amid a national financial crisis, campaigning as the candidate of change. He and his fellow Democrats sought to link McCain to the unpopular George W. Bush. The son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas, Obama soared into the national spotlight after his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he was making his first run for the Senate. Emphasizing his early opposition to the Iraq war, he defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton after a long, bruising primary fight. He then beat back Republican efforts to portray him as reckless, naive and inexperienced. He also had to combat Internet misinformation questioning his religion and patriotism. As he fought to become president, Obama attracted millions of first-time voters - and brought the historic American election to the attention of the entire world. (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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