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Obama's past opponents: Where are they now?

President Obama and defeated Republican rival Mitt Romney will have a private lunch at the White House Thursday, the first time the two have met since the election. Romney has said he will not run for political office again. Here's a look at what happened to other Obama opponents.


  1. President Obama and defeated Republican rival Mitt Romney will have a private lunch at the White House Thursday, the first time the two have met since the election. Romney has said he will not run for political office again. 
  2. Two former Obama opponents — Rep. Bobby Rush and Hillary Clinton — went on to become allies. Two others — Alan Keyes and John McCain — remained firmly on the other side. The other four — Alice Palmer, Yesse Yehudah, Blair Hull and Jack Ryan — left politics altogether.
  3. Here's a look at what happened to Obama's political opponents.
  4. Alice Palmer

  5. In 1995, Illinois state Sen. Alice Palmer announced she would retire from the legislature and introduced Obama as her successor. When she lost a primary race for a Congressional seat, she changed her mind and filed for her old seat, but Obama challenged the signatures on her petitions, disqualifying her from the ballot. 
  6. Where is she now? Retired. After leaving the legislature, Palmer worked as an associate professor of urban planning at the University of Chicago at Illinois. According to an Illinois newspaper, the 73-year-old Palmer finished chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2011.
  7. Yesse Yehudah

  8. In 1998, Obama ran for re-election to the state Senate against Republican Yesse Yehudah, a first-time candidate who served as executive director of FORUM, a community group that offered rehabilitated homes to first-time buyers. Obama won by a margin of 89 percent to 11 percent in the heavily Democratic 13th District.
  9. Where is he now? Still working as a community activist. In 2002, the Illinois attorney general filed a lawsuit against Yehudah and two others, arguing they misused funds. Yehudah denied doing anything wrong, but he paid $10,000 to a charity to settle the lawsuit.
  10. Bobby Rush

  11. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., delivers opening remarks at a 2007 subcommittee hearing. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  12. In 2000, Obama challenged four-term incumbent Bobby Rush for the Democratic nomination for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Though Obama did well with fundraising, he did not get enough support in black neighborhoods. Rush won with 61 percent to Obama's 30 percent and remains the only person to defeat Obama.
  13. Where is he now? Still in Congress. Rush continues to win re-election by high margins and supported Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary. In 2012, he broke House rules by wearing a hoodie while speaking on the floor about the shooting of Florida teen-ager Trayvon Martin. 
  14. Blair Hull

  15. Blair Hull, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, talks with friends while awaiting results in Illinois' primary in 2004. (AP Photo/Aynsley Floyd)
  16. A multimillionaire Army veteran, Blair Hull seemed like a shoo-in for the Democratic Party nomination for Senate in 2004. But unsealed divorce papers hurt his campaign when they revealed an allegation that he had threatened to kill his wife. Obama prevailed among a crowded field of candidates with 53 percent of the vote, while state comptroller Dan Hynes came in second and Hull third.
  17. Where is he now? Still active in politics, but not as a politician. Hull joined the Democracy Alliance, a group that helps fund liberal organizations, in 2005 and remains active in Democratic politics as a donor and activist. He donated to both Obama and Mitt Romney in 2011. 
  18. Jack Ryan

  19. Republican candidate for Senate Jack Ryan speaks at a rally in 2004. (AP Photo/Stephen J. Carrera)
  20. A wealthy investment banker, Jack Ryan won the Republican nomination for Senate and began campaigning against Obama. When court papers related to his divorce were unsealed at the request of Chicago newspaper reporters, they revealed allegations that he had pressured his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, to go with him to sex clubs. Ryan officially withdrew from the race.
  21. Where is he now? On the other side of the editorial line. In 2005, Ryan launched 22nd Century Media, which runs several hyperlocal newspapers in the suburbs of Chicago. "Now I'm writing about people instead of being written about," he told one interviewer.