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Ready to go: Obama pays tribute to retiring S.C. woman who inspired him with 'fired up' chant

Obama praised Edith Childs’ 24 years of service on the Greenwood County Council and recalled his first encounter with her in the early days of his 2008 presidential campaign.
Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., laughs with  Edith Childs, in Aiken, S.C., on Oct. 6, 2007.
Presidential hopeful Barack Obama laughs with Edith Childs in Aiken, S.C., on Oct. 6, 2007.Brett Flashnick / AP file

Former President Barack Obama on Thursday honored a retiring local government official in South Carolina who is credited with invigorating his presidential campaigns with the chant “Fired up! Ready to go!”

In a video released by his foundation, Obama praised Edith Childs' 24 years of service on the Greenwood County Council and recalled his first encounter with her during his 2008 campaign.

“It was early in my campaign, and I wasn’t doing that good,” Obama said in the four-minute video.

Obama first met Childs during a June 2007 stop in Greenwood, where, he said, her enthusiasm and cheerful chant pierced through the clouds of a rainy day on the campaign trail.

In spite of a modest gathering of supporters, Obama said, Childs quickly energized the crowd with a call-and-response format of "Fired up! Ready to go!"

"Fired up, ready to go had been one of the chants, the cheers, that had been used by the NAACP back in the day," he said in the video.

The chant was quickly adopted as the unofficial slogan of Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and he has repeatedly highlighted those words as part of what helped him reach the Oval Office.

In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Childs said she was familiar with the "fired up" wording as a way to energize crowds at NAACP voter registration events over the decades.

“Once we sang that song, it reminded us that, no matter what, we have to remain fired up and ready to go and be prepared for whatever confronts you,” she told the AP.

Obama invited Childs to the White House several times, one of them for the first holiday celebration his family hosted, in 2009. Years later, Childs was seated alongside Michelle Obama during the 2016 State of the Union address.

Obama in the video recalled chanting the slogan with larger and larger crowds as his 2008 campaign gained momentum.

"I think more than anything what it represented was a core belief that I had then and continue to have now, that leadership and power and inspiration can come from anywhere," Obama said. "It just has to do with spirit, and nobody embodied that better than Edith."