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Obama Got Wife's Backing By Agreeing To Quit Smoking

PTI 11 Jan 2010, 17:06:42 IST

America's first Afro-Asian President Barack Obama's triumph was not inevitable. In fact, he might never have run for the presidency had he not secured his wife Michelle's backing by agreeing to quit smoking and spend Sundays with family, a new book has revealed. 

According to the book, 'The Race of a Lifetime', it was only after Obama promised to give up puffing, be home on Sundays and attend his daughters' parent-teacher meetings and music recitals that Michelle finally swung behind his bid, 'The Times' reported.

Even then, in January 2007, Obama had second thoughts. He told his chief adviser: "Being Barack Obama (as opposed to President) isn't a bad gig," says the book based on more than 200 interviews with the 2008 candidates and their staffs.

"Could Michelle have stopped him? Without question. She really was against it," co-author Mark Halperin was quoted as saying. 

Extracts of the book, published by the leading British newspaper, have also revealed that Hillary Clinton had initially rejected the post of Secretary of State despite rare pleading by Obama, citing her husband Bill as the reason. "You know I can't control him. At some point he will be a problem," she was paraphrased as saying.

In fact, former President Bill Clinton's campaigning for his wife was a highly publicised theme of the campaign, backfiring spectacularly when he was accused of "racism" for comparing the Obama campaign in South Carolina with a previous one run by the civil rights activist Jesse Jackson. 

The late Senator Ted Kennedy was angered by what seemed to be a clumsy attempt to play the race card, and even more so by President Clinton's plea for Kennedy's endorsement.

"A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee," the authors claim President Clinton said of Obama in a phone call to the Senator -- who then endorsed Obama. PTI