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A Brief Look at Candidate Obama's 2008 Campaign Promises

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(AP File)

With the news that President Obama is officially running for re-election in 2012, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at where some of candidate Barack Obama's 2008 campaign trail promises stand today.

The president has said he keeps a check list of promises he made during the campaign in his pocket. Last fall Mr. Obama told "Rolling Stone" he figured his administration had "probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do."

The watchdog organization Politifact.com* has been keeping track and puts candidate Obama's list of promises at a staggering 506, of those they say the president has kept 122, or 24 percent. Coincidentally, of the 25 selected as the most significant promises, politifact.com says Obama has followed through on six, for a 'promise-kept percentage' of 24 percent.

Here is a selection we thought worthy of inspection:

1) Guantanamo Bay

As a candidate, Barack Obama repeatedly stated his intentions to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, calling the facility a recruitment tool for al Qaeda. With Monday's announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged plotters in the September 11 attacks would be tried in military courts, it has become even more obvious that Gitmo will not be shutting down anytime soon.

However, some Obama supporters say they don't see Guantanamo Bay shaping up as a huge problem for the president in 2012.

"President Obama is still trying to shut down Gitmo as soon as possible, it's just turning out that it's not possible," said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. "But I don't see that promise really hurting him in 2012, his base probably won't abandon him over that."

2) Letting Bush-Era Tax Cuts Expire

As a candidate, Barack Obama said he opposed tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and if elected to the highest office in the land, he would let the Bush-era tax cuts expire. However as president, Obama found that he had to compromise in order to avoid raising taxes for most Americans. In the end, the only way for the president to keep the Bush-era tax rates for couples making less than $250,000 was to also extend current tax rates for what he called "the wealthiest two percent of Americans."

Once again, Democrats don't see this as a deal breaker.

"He fought against extending the Bush tax cuts the whole way, he just lost. But once again I don't think his base will desert him for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich over this," said Trippi.

3) Foreclosure Prevention Fund

During the campaign, candidate Obama said he would create a $10 billion fund designed to come to the aid of homeowners at risk of foreclosure. "Too many families are unable to refinance because no one will lend to them, and they are unable to sell their homes because the housing market has fallen," said Obama in 2008.

The president actually tried to go above and beyond the initial promise by creating a fund that totaled $75 billion. This money came, in part, from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The problem is the program, for a myriad of reasons, has failed to deliver. As of January 2011, the program had helped only about 500,000 homeowners.

4) Immigration Reform

As a candidate out on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama promised to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. However, during his first two years in the White House, the president spent just about all of his hard earned political capital on passing health care reform and the economic stimulus. So by the time Obama went back to the well for immigration, he was politically broke.

The DREAM act, a bill aimed to provide a path to citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, passed in the House but died in the Senate during the lame duck session. With that chance missed, it could be a long time before Democrats and immigration reform backers have the numbers in Congress to make another run at it.

Obama called the failure to pass immigration reform "maybe my biggest disappointment" of the lame duck session but maintains he is still committed to the goal.

5) Restricting Former Lobbyists from Serving in Obama Administration

As a candidate, Barack Obama deplored the prevalence of lobbyists in and around the White House. "No political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration," said Obama in 2008.

However, according to politifact.com, the administration has granted waivers to several former lobbyists, allowing them to serve. The administration also allows "recusals," in which a former lobbyists can recuse themselves from discussions surrounding interests they used to lobby.

6) Iraq War

As a candidate out on the trail, Mr. Obama made the Iraq war one of his main issues and hammered his Republican rival Sen. John McCain over and over on the subject. Obama said he would work with military commanders on the ground in Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi government to end the war safely and responsibly within 16 months.

Here is one that is widely considered to be a promise kept for President Obama. Although about 48,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq as a transitional force, the bulk of the combat forces were headed home by the end of summer 2010.

7) Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

In the final weeks of a lame duck session, Congress overturned a 17-year-old policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The repeal calls for a transition period so that the Department of Defense can train all forces by this summer and implement the repeal in the fall.

By signing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" into law on December 22, 2010, President Obama kept another campaign promise.

8) Sign a ‘Universal' Health care Bill

Last but certainly not least is the promise Mr. Obama made to sign a universal health care bill. Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has many detractors, this has to be considered a major promise kept by President Obama.

On March 23, 2010 after months of political battles on Capitol Hill, President Obama signed Democrat-passed health care reform into law, triggering a firestorm that is still working its way through the courts. Many legal scholars and pundits expect the matter will ultimately be resolved in the Supreme Court

Trippi adds that no president can keep all of his campaign promises, yet on the biggest issues, such as Iraq and health care reform, Obama did make good on pledges he made on the trail.

"More importantly the 2012 presidential election will be won on issues of the day, not promises from 2008," Trippi said. "The buck stops on President Obama's desk now, you can't blame President Bush anymore. So if the economy is good and we feel safe as a nation in November of 2012, he's looking good, however if unemployment is at nine percent, the president could be in trouble."

The president meanwhile seems eager to talk about his accomplishments rather than specific promises. During a conference call with thousands of grassroots supporters Monday night Obama ticked off some of his signature accomplishments such as health care legislation, Wall Street reform and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The president told listeners that in only two years his administration had produced "the most successful legislative initiative" of any president over the last 50 years. "I think it's important to remind people what we have accomplished."

*PolitiFact calls itself "a project of the St. Petersburg Times to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters and editors from the Times fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups and rate them on our Truth-O-Meter."