- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

After nearly eight years in office, President Obama is acknowledging that he owes his rise to power partly to luck.

“When you think about me being president of the United States, it was quite unlikely,” Mr. Obama told a group of young African leaders Wednesday in Washington. “Some of it had to do with just chance. It was luck.”

He advised the young people from more than 50 African nations, “Politics is a little bit like going into acting or being a musician. You can be really talented, but maybe the timing is off. Maybe you didn’t get the lucky break.”

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The nation’s only black president said he would have quit politics in 2004 if he didn’t win the U.S. Senate race in Illinois.

“I had been in the state Senate for eight years,” Mr. Obama said. “It was putting enormous strains on my family because I was traveling a lot. I thought to myself, ‘This is it. If I don’t win this U.S. Senate race, I’m getting out of politics. I’m going to go do something else.’ I was comfortable with that view.”

During his Senate campaign, Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry of Massachusetts tapped Mr. Obama to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, a speech that brought him to national prominence.

“The fact that John Kerry picked me to speak was sort of accidental,” Mr. Obama said. “I gave a pretty good speech. The day after the speech, my name’s everywhere, and my name’s on television, and people are saying, ‘Wow, who’s this guy Obama?’ I told my friend … ‘I’m no more smarter today than I was yesterday.’ I didn’t suddenly magically become so much better than I was when I was just a state senator.”

He told the audience members to work to improve their communities, and perhaps political success will follow.

“You can’t guarantee that you’re going to be elected or successful in a particular office,” Mr. Obama said. “You don’t have control completely over luck, over fate, over chance. But you do have control over being useful and getting good work done in your communities. So stay focused on that.”

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