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The Obamas and their jobs: Barack telemarketed the New York Times; Michelle worked in Chicago bindery

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By now, a lot of people know that presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) met Michelle at Chicago's Sidley Austin law firm office when he spent a summer there between his second and third year at Harvard Law and she was already at the Loop firm. The previous summer, Obama worked at Hopkins & Sutter, another Chicago law firm.

He's had other odd jobs, it turns out, including one he did not particularly like, selling subscriptions to the New York Times over the phone. Michelle as a high school student worked at a bindery in Chicago.


As the Obamas look towards new positions--he, the Oval Office; she, the East Wing, I wondered what other jobs they've held. Obama has said his first job was at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store. He's also mentioned that he worked construction. But he does not go into more detail in his memoir and in stump speeches.

Here's more exclusive details that I dug up, with information passed on from the Obama campaign in response to my inquiries:

BARACK

*Obama this week is vacationing in his native Hawaii. As a college student at Occidental in Southern California, Obama returned home to Hawaii the summer after freshman year to sell island trinkets in a gift shop.

*Obama also had a summertime job at a deli counter in Hawaii -- making sandwiches.

*Once in New York to attend Columbia, one summer Obama worked for a private company holding a contract to process health records of either police or firefighters

*During one school year at Columbia, Obama was a telemarketer in midtown Manhattan selling New York Times subscriptions over the phone, wearing a headset. He did not like the job because "he worried that some of the people he called couldn't really afford the subscription."


MICHELLE

*Michelle Robinson Obama worked at what was known then as Bob Goldman's Book Bindery in 1980-1981 while a Whitney Young High School student in Chicago.

*Once at Princeton, she worked for all four undergraduate years at the Third World Center on campus, part of a paid work-study program where she started a child care program.

*During the summers of 1982, 1983 and 1985, she was employed at the Chicago-based American Medical Association as an assistant to the executive director. She was a typist and helped prepare materials for the big AMA fall meeting.

*The summer of 1984 brought a new experience for Michelle: She was a camp counselor at the Fresh Air Fund (Camp ABC) in New York state, working with campers from the city.

*After her first year at Harvard Law, she was a summer associate at the old Chadwell & Keiser law firm in Chicago. The next year, she was a summer associate at Sidley, splitting the summer between

3 Comments

"I was one of the first community organizers who Barack Obama met in Chicago over 20 years ago, and I have worked directly with him throughout his political career. In 1986, I was a city wide coordinator while Barack was the Project Director for Project Vote, a city-wide voter registration campaign that put over 100, 000 new voters on the books, which set the stage for the historic election of Illinois U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, the re-election of Chicago's 1st Black Mayor Harold Washington in 1987, and a new Chicago City Council.

Michele Obama I remember working as a Coordinator for a program called PUBLIC ALLIES, a project that trained young people for public service.

Wow, the Obamas have had some real "Elitist" jobs! I bet those other "elitists", the Baskin-Robbins, construction workers, day care workers are wondering where are their "high class paychecks" that should go along with their "high class jobs"!
This should show how silly some of the campaign garbage is!

By Mark S. Allen on August 14, 2008 7:40 PM
"I was one of the first community organizers who Barack Obama met in Chicago over 20 years ago, and I have worked directly with him throughout his political career. In 1986, I was a city wide coordinator while Barack was the Project Director for Project Vote, a city-wide voter registration campaign that put over 100, 000 new voters on the books, which set the stage for the historic election of Illinois U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, the re-election of Chicago's 1st Black Mayor Harold Washington in 1987, and a new Chicago City Council.

Michele Obama I remember working as a Coordinator for a program called PUBLIC ALLIES, a project that trained young people for public service.

Mark,

When Barack Obama returned to Chicago from Harvard, he took the job that you mentioned. Your comment make it seem like Barack Obama both lead Project Vote and attended Harvard. His biography and other news reports demonstrate that this did not happen. I do not dispute that Project Vote did what you state in the 1980s. I do know that it did register thousands of voters in 1992 with Obama as its director, particularly those Black voters and helped make Illinois a competitive state for the Democratic Party and Bill Clinton. Here are two links to coverage by Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Reader of Barack Obama:

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-1993/Vote-of-Confidence/

http://www.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/archive/barackobama/

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 14, 2008 7:11 PM.

The Obama campaign rebuttal to new hit job--but best selling--book. Complete Obama research document. was the previous entry in this blog.

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