Democratic Presidential Nominee
Barack Obama was elected to the presidency in 2008 and became the first African-American president of the United States.
Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2004 and served until his resignation following his 2008 presidential election victory. Prior to the Senate, Obama worked as a community organizer in Chicago and as a civil rights attorney. He also served for eight years in the Illinois State Senate before being elected to the U.S. Senate.
Obama was born August 4, 1961, in Hawaii and grew up in that state, and, from 1967 to 1971, in Indonesia. His mother was from Kansas and his father from Kenya. Obama attended Columbia University and earned a law degree at Harvard University.
In 2009, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Republican Presidential Nominee
Mitt Romney is a businessman and former governor who first sought the U.S. presidency in 2008.
He served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 through 2007, but has spent most of his professional life in the private sector. In 1999, he was named chief executive officer of the 2002 Winter Olympics Organizing Committee. In 2008, Romney was among the candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination eventually won by Senator John McCain.
Romney was born March 12, 1947, in Michigan and grew up in that state. In the late 1960s, he spent 30 months in France as a missionary for his church. Romney attended Brigham Young University and then earned dual graduate degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.
Romney has been awarded honorary doctorates in business, law, public administration, public service and the humanities.
Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee
Joe Biden was elected to the vice presidency of the United States in 2008 after serving nearly six terms in the U.S. Senate representing Delaware. As senator, Biden served on — and during three different periods chaired — the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which reviews matters related to foreign policy, including treaties, national security initiatives and humanitarian assistance.
He ran for president in 2008, but withdrew from the race shortly after the Iowa caucuses.
Biden was born November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School in New York. Prior to his Senate career, Biden worked as an attorney. Biden and his wife, Jill, a college professor, have three children and five grandchildren.
Republican Vice Presidential Nominee
Paul Ryan is serving his seventh term representing Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. In Congress, Ryan chairs the House Budget Committee and also serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, both key panels for handling the finances of the U.S. federal government.
Before winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, Ryan worked as an aide and speech writer to legislators Bob Kasten, Sam Brownback and Jack Kemp.
Ryan was born January 29, 1970, in Janesville, Wisconsin. He earned degrees in economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio. Ryan and his wife, Janna, have three children.
Michelle Obama, who grew up in Chicago, is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She met her future husband while working in a Chicago law firm.
She also served as an assistant commissioner of planning at Chicago’s City Hall and later worked at the University of Chicago, serving in many positions, including executive director of community and external affairs. As first lady, she has promoted healthy eating and fitness for the nation’s children. The Obamas have two daughters.
Potential First Lady
Ann Romney, who grew up in Michigan, is a graduate of Brigham Young University. She met her future husband while both were in elementary school and is a career homemaker.
As first lady of Massachusetts, she served on the board of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund and, in 2006, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Operation Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of America’s children. The Romneys have five sons and 18 grandchildren.