08/31/2012 10:16 am ET Updated Oct 31, 2012

52 Reasons to Vote for Obama: #30, A True Leader

Whether you're PRObama, NObama, or still undecided, 52 Reasons to Vote for Obama gives you all the information you need to share with friends, debate with relatives and decide for yourself as we head toward one of the most important elections of our lifetime. I'll post a new reason in random order every Monday through Friday from now 'til the election.

We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard. -- Barack Obama, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, December 10, 2009

What is the mark of a true leader?
  • makes hard decisions even when they are unpopular
  • stands by principles and follows through
  • takes risks

In five key areas, Barack Obama has shown himself to be an extraordinary leader:

1. Sending Thirty Thousand Additional Troops to Afghanistan

Despite strong opposition from his own party, Vice President Biden and his chief of staff, President Obama ordered thirty thousand more troops to be sent to Afghanistan in December 2009, raising the total number of troops there to more than one hundred thousand, an increase of more than sixty thousand since he took office earlier that year. He accelerated the timetable of the deployment, sending the troops there more quickly than initially anticipated. But the president also set a clear timetable for the beginning of troop withdrawals, a commitment he kept by starting to bring them home from Afghanistan in July 2011. In May 2012, he signed a strategic partnership agreement with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, ensuring that all combat troops would be withdrawn by 2014 and establishing a solid foundation to guide our commitment to Afghanistan for the next decade.

2. Saving GM and Chrysler

Though most Americans and nearly all Republicans were against the auto bailout, President Obama recognized that letting Detroit go bankrupt, as Mitt Romney had suggested, would destroy the American automotive industry and wreak tremendous havoc on the entire U.S. economy. Over a million jobs would have been lost, and the federal government would have been stuck with paying a $14.5 billion tab for the two companies' pension plans. Today GM is back as the world's number one auto manufacturer and more profitable than ever, and the auto industry has created 230,000 jobs in three years (the most in a decade). All loans have been repaid to the government.

3. Pushing Health Care Reform

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly pledged to sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of his first term as president. In the face of staunch opposition from Republicans, President Obama realized that if he wanted to deliver on his promise, he would have to push through health care reform immediately, while he had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, or risk losing the opportunity, as had so many presidents before him. Fighting against near unanimous opposition from Republicans, unprecedented lobbying by the insurance industry, and pushback from the more liberal wing of his own party, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act just a little over a year after taking office. In summer 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the law.

4. Osama bin Laden Raid

Many of his top advisors, including Vice President Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright, were against the attack. Bush's secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, had called off a similar raid six years earlier. Success was far from guaranteed, and the costs of failure would have been enormous. But President Obama was convinced that the raid was the only option to ensure that the United States could finally remove the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, and he alone made the call to send in SEAL Team Six.

5. The Stimulus Plan

Facing the greatest economic crisis in eighty years, Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act less than a month after being sworn into office. The package of tax cuts, aid to the states and investment in infrastructure cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans saved as many as 3.5 million jobs (according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office), and is credited with preventing another Great Depression. The bill passed the House without a single Republican vote. Since then, the U.S. economy has experienced eleven consecutive quarters of expansion and registered twenty-eight straight months of private-sector job growth, adding 4.4 million new jobs.

Character. Strength. Determination. Perseverance... These are the qualities of a true leader.

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