Section 1: Getting Involved – 2005 Meeting Barack Obama for the first time

This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.

25 October 2016

In the spring of 2005, I went to Washington, D.C. with an advocacy group to encourage Congress to support the issues about which we cared. As part of our activities, we had a reception with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in his office. I was pregnant with our second child and the size of my belly made me very visible among the others in the group. Thus, when the other (newly sworn in) Senator from Illinois – Senator Barack Obama – came into and scanned the room, I stuck out like a sore thumb. He walked straight over to me, put his hand on my shoulder, acknowledged my belly and asked “How are you feeling?” That kicked off a conversation about family and the challenges of finding quality time for kids amidst challenging work schedules. When he addressed the group, Senator Obama shared how he approaches challenges: he listens to all sides of the situation, identifies the right solution and then keeps everyone on target with the plan. His strategic acumen, his intellect, his compassion, and the calm he radiated, made it apparent to me that he would make an excellent President. I called Eric that evening and shared that, when (it was already clear to me that it wasn’t “if”) then Senator Obama ran for President, that I would do everything within my power to get him elected.

And during his 2008 and 2012 election campaigns, our family did just that. Collectively, we generated perhaps millions of votes because of our volunteer work. We campaigned in six states, hosted dozens of house parties for volunteers, voters and potential voters, knocked on thousands of doors, made thousands of phone calls, enlisted thousands of volunteers, and impacted millions of votes.