The long road to the White House

Barack Obama’s two-year journey to his historic election encompassed fist bumps and bowling balls, controversies and celebrations.

Barack and Michelle Obama wave to supporters at the end of a rally on Feb. 10, 2007 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Obama officially launched his quest to become the first African-American president of the United States. Springfield is both the capital of Illinois and the former home of Abraham Lincoln.

Mandel Ngan / AFP

Five months into his campaign, Obama speaks to an Independence Day crowd on July 4, 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Obama faced a crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls. Here he answers a question while Sen. Joseph Biden, left, Sen. Christopher Dodd, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, listen during a Democratic debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on Sept. 26, 2007. Biden would move from a political competitor to a teammate in 2008, when he became Obama's vice-presidential pick.

Jim Cole / AP

Obama, his wife Michelle, and daughters Malia, left, and Sasha celebrate victory at the Iowa caucus in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 3, 2008. The Obamas met in 1989 while working together at a Chicago law firm.

Rick Bowmer / AP

Obama speaks to a large audience on Jan. 7 in snowy Lebanon, N.H. Obama eventually lost the New Hampshire Democratic primary to Sen. Hillary Clinton, but he still drew mammoth crowds in the Granite State.

M. Spencer Green / AP

Obama works the crowd in Chicago after celebrating his Super Tuesday primary wins on Feb. 5. Obama picked up 13 states to Sen. Hillary Clinton's eight, but the race would continue to be tight.

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Cameras flash as Obama, who prefers basketball, tried his hand at bowling on March 29 at the Pleasant Valley Recreation Center in Altoona, Penn. "My economic plan is better than my bowling," he later joked.

Stan Honda / AFP

Obama spoke about his controversial former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, at a news conference in Winston-Salem, N.C., on April 29.

Jae C. Hong / AP

Michelle and Barack Obama make their famous fist bump before he gave his speech accepting the Democratic nomination at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. on June 3. Obama's speech came after a hard-fought five-month battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton, making him the first African-American to lead a major political party into a general election in the United States.

Craig Lassig / EPA

Michelle Obama teasingly bumps fists with Elisabeth Hasselbeck of ABC's "The View" on June 18 in New York.The gesture briefly captured nationwide attention after the Obamas bumped fists in front of national television cameras in St. Paul.

Steve Fenn / ABC

Former Vice President Al Gore, himself no stranger to the campaign trail, announced his endorsement of Obama on June 16 in Detroit. "Take it from me, elections matter," Gore told the crowd.

Paul Sancya / AP

Obama applauds Sen. Hillary Clinton as she delivers a speech in Unity, N.H. on June 27. The event was held in an aptly named city, as it marked the first time the two former rivals had campaigned together.

Michal Czerwonka / EPA

Sasha Obama, the youngest of the two Obama girls, waves goodbye to her father at Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Mont., on July 5.

Jae C. Hong / AP

Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, take a helicopter ride over Baghdad, Iraq, on July 21. Obama also met with Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Ssg Lorie Jewell / POOL US ARMY

Obama laughs with members of the media on his campaign airplane shortly before taking off for Germany from Tel Aviv on July 24. Before leaving Israel, he visited one of the country's holiest sites, the Western Wall.

Paul J. Richards / AFP

Hundreds of thousands of people greeted Obama during a stop at Berlin's Victory Column on July 24. Speaking not far from where the Berlin Wall once stood, Obama said, "The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand."

Jae C. Hong / AP

Obama introduced his running-mate choice, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, during a rally in Springfield, Ill, on Aug. 23. Biden has represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate since 1972 and was himself a candidate for president earlier in 2008 as well as 20 years ago, in 1988.

Emmanuel Dunand / AFP

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain are shown on television screens at the media filing center during the final presidential debate, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y, on Oct. 15. The presidential candidates debated three times; their vice-presidential candidates participated in one debate.

Jae C. Hong / AP

Obama suspended his campaign for two days to make what turned out to be his final visit to his grandmother. Here he walks towards his campaign plane for the trip from Indianapolis to Honolulu on Oct. 23.

Emmanuel Dunand / AFP

Despite a driving rain, Obama addresses supporters at a rally in Chester, Pa., on Oct. 28. "A little bit of rain never hurt anybody," he said.

Jae C. Hong / AP

Sen. Barack Obama wipes a tear from his eye as he speaks about his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died Nov. 3, on the eve of the presidential election. Dunham, who helped raise Obama, cast an absentee ballot for her grandson before losing her battle with cancer.

Jason Reed / X00458

President-elect Barack Obama, wife Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia, take the stage at Chicago's Grant Park on Nov. 4, 2008 for Obama's victory speech. "It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America," he said.

Shawn Thew / EPA