President Obama’s currently on vacation in Hawaii while preparing to regroup for his final weeks in office. However, he’s still been kicking around in the form of David Axelrod’s podcast, which CNN has been slowly releasing to tide over the slow news week. Yesterday, we heard Obama’s assertion that he could have won a third term. Now, CNN lets us know about one of Obama’s lowest moments — when he was broke with a declined credit card and preparing to step away from politics forever.
Obama famously gained the status of rising star following a 2004 DNC speech (where he began by addressing the unlikelihood of his presence), but in 2000, everything was different. He’d lost an Illinois congressional race that had swallowed all of his money, and he was flat broke with a family at home. A friend convinced him to reinvigorate his interest in politics by attending the Los Angeles DNC, but his credit card was declined while trying to rent a car, he couldn’t get into the auditorium, and bouncers wouldn’t let him attend after parties. Basically, it was the worst time ever:
“I get to the hotel where my friend is ready to go and we go over to the convention and they give me the pass that basically only allows you to be in the halls. The ring around the auditorium doesn’t actually allow you to see anything … I felt as if I was a third wheel in this whole thing. I ended up leaving early, and that was the stage when I was really questioning whether I should be in politics.”
Obviously, that’s all in the past. Some people may assume that Obama’s worst day would have been the Trump win, which potentially shadows the Obama legacy, but it’s all a matter of perspective. And as Axelrod points out, if Obama had won the congressional race, his entire career path would have changed, and there would never have been a President Obama.