Four years after Barack Obama’s keynote speech won him nationwide acclaim, the New Republic looks at how he landed the fateful speaking slot at the party convention. The pick was unprecedented because Obama was largely unknown—he wasn't even in the Senate—and he had never given a speech of such magnitude. But he was generating positive buzz, including a photo spread in Time, and he dovetailed nicely with Kerry's need to reach young black voters.
Kerry, himself, had seen Obama's charisma firsthand during a campaign swing in Illinois, and, in fact, the article notes that Obama largely stole the spotlight from him. Obama helped cement the decision by sending in an “audition video.” In a prophetic turn of events, the first draft of Obama's speech required very little editing from party leaders.