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President Barack Obama is TIME magazine’s iconic Person of the Year, managing editor Rick Stengel revealed Wednesday as he unveiled the 2012 cover on TODAY.
“He’s basically the beneficiary and the author of a kind of a New America, a new demographic, a new cultural America that he is now the symbol of,” Stengel said.
Obama became the first Democratic president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to win two consecutive re-elections with at least 50 percent of the vote, despite the highest unemployment rate in seven decades.
Stengel said Obama won support from a core group of voters who “actually don’t care about politics” and felt the president ignored partisanship to do his job.
“Using the coalition of the ascendant young voters, millennials, Hispanics minorities, he’s creating a new alignment, a kind of realignment like Ronald Reagan did 40 years ago,” he said.
This is Obama's second time on the cover with the iconic title. He also secured the title the last time he won election — in 2008, just after he became the first African American elected president.
The magazine's short list for this year's Person of the Year cover was revealed on TODAY, and tens of thousands of TODAY.com readers voted among the eight candidates. In addition to President Obama, they included Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!; Mohammed Morsi, president of Egypt; Undocumented Americans; Bill and Hillary Clinton; ; Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban; Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple; and the Higgs Boson and Italian physicist Fabiola Giannati.
Yousafzai, the 15-year-old targeted by the Taliban because she championed the cause of education for girls, narrowly defeated Obama in a TODAY poll.
As it has for the past 85 years, the weekly newsmagazine selected the person (or sometimes group, or thing) that its editors deemed had the single greatest impact during the past year, for better or for worse.
Time’s Person of the Year has been a perennial topic of year-end debate ever since aviator Charles Lindbergh was chosen the first Man of the Year back in 1927 (the title was amended to Person of the Year in 1999). But the title is not necessarily an accolade; while many presidents, political leaders, innovators and captains of industry have been cited, some of the more notorious Persons of the Year include Adolf Hitler in 1938, Joseph Stalin in 1943 and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. There have also been more conceptual choices, such as “the American Fighting-Man” (1950), “Middle Americans” (1969), and last year’s choice, The Protester.
More from TIME magazine:
- TIME Person of the Year 2012
- President Obama: 'These Tragedies Must End'
- Malala Yousafzai and why education should in the foreign policy debate
- Apple CEO Tim Cook announces U.S. Mac production, warns: 'Don't bet against us'
- Mohammed Morsi's moment
- The Higgs boson, Fabiola Giannati and the Cathedral of Science
- Marissa Mayer's Wall Street debut sends Yahoo! stock surging
- Bill & Hillary Clinton: What will diplomacy look like in the 21st century?
- Undocumented Americans: Not legal, not leaving
- Slideshow: TIME Persons of the Year 1999-2011