Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror

Editor’s note: The following report is the first in a Daily Caller series  revealing the opposition research Republican Jack Ryan planned to use in his  short-lived 2004 campaign for U.S. Senate against then-Illinois state Sen.  Barack Obama.

CHICAGO — “Obama Research,” reads the front covers of 22 three-ring binders  containing every ounce of opposition research prepared in 2004 by Republican  Jack Ryan’s campaign in his effort to stop then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama  from ever rising to the ranks of the U.S. Senate — and perhaps, by extension, to  the presidency.

But Ryan’s campaign never made it off the ground, dragged to its knees by a  Chicago Tribune-led lawsuit that publicly revealed Ryan’s messy 1999 custody  proceedings with actress and ex-wife Jeri Ryan. Those documents showed that Jeri  Ryan claimed her wealthy husband, a former investment banker, had brought her to  sex clubs around the globe, which led her to fall in love with another man.

Jack Ryan’s presumed engagement in strange sexual activities with his own  wife wasn’t a typical sex scandal, but it was enough to doom his campaign. Under  bipartisan pressure to leave the race, and with collapsing poll numbers, he soon  stepped aside.

Alan Keyes, a Maryland resident and stalwart social conservative, was chosen  as his replacement, and Obama won the race in a landslide. Soon the future  president was gracing the cover of weekly news magazines, promoted by the media  as a transformative pragmatist who could bring a deeply divided nation back  together.

What remains from Ryan’s doomed campaign is a time capsule of information  about President Barack Obama, found in the many thousands of pages that make up  Ryan’s opposition research. The Daily Caller has obtained that collection.

The little-seen information within the binders represents a comprehensive  documentation of Obama’s voting record in the state Senate; his many political  donors, endorsers and affiliations; a list of the known clients represented by  the law firm where he worked; known details about Obama’s life derived from his  books; and a litany of press clippings that include quotes from the Democrat  dating back to 1992.

The information reveals what Ryan’s line of attack might have been, had he  taken the chance to fight, and brings to light the most exhaustive study of  Obama’s voting record before he came to Washington, D.C.

In the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election, supporters of then-Senator  Barack Obama could point to press accounts of his time in the Illinois  legislature as proof that he was, by nature, a bipartisan-minded pragmatist. But  Ryan’s review of Obama’s time in Springfield reveals a more complicated picture,  one of an ambitious and gifted political upstart unlikely to buck his party’s  leadership on key legislation except when allying with the far left wing of the  Democratic caucus.

From abortion to gun rights and anti-crime legislation, Obama, who from 1998  to 2004 represented one of the most diverse districts in what remains perhaps  America’s most segregated major city, worked to serve the powerful  constituencies and special interest groups that still dominate Illinois  politics. An eloquent speaker and ever mindful of his public’s perceptions, he  often voted “present” on bills where taking a position could hurt his political  future, while staying loyal to the state’s entrenched Democratic machine.

“Barack Obama was [in 2008] presenting himself as some kind of a centrist  reformer, and the truth of the state Senate voting record is anything but,” Eric  Kohn, an Illinois based libertarian activist and former communications director  for the Cook County GOP, told The Daily Caller.

“I mean, here’s somebody who never failed to vote with the far left, who cast  a lot of votes that are questionable at best, from the ones that highlighted the  votes about making things tougher on domestic matters, making things tougher for  child sex offenders, the infant protection act — even if you’re somebody who’s  pro-choice that is a pretty radical vote,” Kohn continued.

Mainstream media reports from the 2008 election tend to portray Obama as  Springfield’s consummate bridge builder, a well-liked intellectual and reformer  eager to reach across the aisle. A Wall Street Journal article published shortly  after Obama announced his candidacy for president described him as “a lawmaker  of lofty, liberal rhetoric who nonetheless pragmatically accepted bipartisan  compromises that won over foes — and sometimes left supporters  dissatisfied.”

“[H]e emerged as a leader while still in his 30s by developing a style former  colleagues describe as methodical, inclusive and pragmatic,” The Washington Post  also wrote at the time. “He cobbled together legislation with Republicans and  conservative Democrats, making overtures other progressive politicians might  consider distasteful.”