Barack Obama on the moment he won the presidency – exclusive extractNovember 22, 2020
In this excerpt from A Promised Land, the former president remembers the anxious run-up to the 2008 election. Scroll down to hear a clip of him reading from it
- Interview: Obama talks Trump, Biden, golf and conspiracy theories
More than anything campaign-related, it was news out of Hawaii that tempered my mood in October’s waning days. My sister Maya called, saying the doctors didn’t think Toot [Obama’s grandmother] would last much longer, perhaps no more than a week. She was now confined to a rented hospital bed in the living room of her apartment, under the care of a hospice nurse and on palliative drugs. Although she had startled my sister with a sudden burst of lucidity the previous evening, asking for the latest campaign news along with a glass of wine and a cigarette, she was now slipping in and out of consciousness.
And so, 12 days before the election, I made a 36-hour trip to Honolulu to say goodbye. Maya was waiting for me when I arrived at Toot’s apartment; I saw that she had been sitting on the couch with a couple of shoeboxes of old photographs and letters. “I thought you might want to take some back with you,” she said. I picked up a few photos from the coffee table. My grandparents and my eight-year-old mother, laughing in a grassy field at Yosemite. Me at the age of four or five, riding on Gramps’s shoulders as waves splashed around us. The four of us with Maya, still a toddler, smiling in front of a Christmas tree.