UPDATE: Carol Moseley Braun dropped out of the race on January 15, 2004.
Name: Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun
Birth date: August 16, 1947
Education: Bachelor's degree, University of Illinois, 1969; law degree,
University of Chicago, 1972
Career: Assistant U.S. attorney, 1973-1977; U.S. ambassador to New
Elected office: Illinois state representative, 1978-1988; recorder of
deeds for Cook County; 1988-1992: U.S. senator, 1993-99
Family: Divorced; one son
Quote: "Duct tape is no substitute for diplomacy and the saber-rattling
that has made us all hostage to fear must stop."
(CNN) -- The first time Carol Moseley Braun ran for a national office, her candidacy prompted people to ask, "Who?"
Who was the middle-class mom challenging a millionaire and two-term incumbent? Who was the woman who thought she could be the first black Democrat in the Senate?
During her bid to become president, Moseley Braun had voters and political analysts asking "Why?"
"Nobody knows exactly why she's running," CNN political analyst William Schneider said in 2003. "She is the only woman who's running. She could make herself a candidate who is outspoken on women's issues, but she's not. ... She's competing with (Democrat Al) Sharpton for the African-American vote and (U.S. Rep. Dennis) Kucinich for the left. She isn't raising much money. She may have nothing better to do."
Those questions ended on January 15, 2004 -- four days before the election cycle's first binding race, the Iowa caucuses -- when Moseley Braun announced that she'd end her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. With her own campaign unable to gain momentum, she threw her support behind the candidacy of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
When asked about her motivation to enter the race in the first place, Moseley Braun, who served as a U.S. ambassador to New Zealand from 1999 to 2001, said in an interview with CNN, "I do this out of love of my country. I do this because I believe that I have the capacity and the vision and the experience to ... restore not just prosperity and progress for our country, but to get us on the right track as a nation."
The daughter of a law enforcement officer and medical technician, Moseley Braun contends service is engrained in her. She has worked longest in Illinois, where she was born and educated -- receiving a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois and a law degree from the University of Chicago.
After leaving her post as an assistant U.S. attorney to care for her only child as a homemaker, Braun's community involvement in environmental issues prompted her neighbors to encourage her to run for public office, her Web site states. She became an Illinois state representative in 1978 and served there until 1987.
Following a single stint as the deeds recorder for Cook County, Moseley Braun took on the well-known, well-financed, experienced incumbent Sen. Alan Dixon in the Democratic primary and shocked the state by snatching the party nomination and a place in the 1992 general election.
When she took the oath of office in 1993, Moseley Braun made state, party and national history as the first female senator from Illinois, first female African-American senator and first African-American Democratic senator.
Moseley Braun lost her seat in 1998 to conservative Republican state Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. In the final days of the campaign she cut into Fitzgerald's double-digit lead but Moseley Braun had been outspent by her multimillionaire opponent and hampered by a cloud of controversy that marked her first term. She lost by three percentage points.
After Moseley Braun won her 1992 Senate race, the Federal Election Commission investigated the finances of her campaign, which faced charges of overspending. She took out a $10,000 loan to pay personal expenses, while she and her campaign manager withdrew $69,000 on credit cards. An FEC audit ultimately said her bookkeeping was disorganized, but the commission never penalized her.
She also drew heavy criticism for making a trip to visit Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha in 1995.
Before Moseley Braun agreed to interviews during her presidential run, she insisted journalists receive a copy of what her campaign refers to as "The Nasties," a 102-page report that lists allegations levied against her, her responses to them and supporting documents that illustrate she did nothing illegal.
When Moseley Braun was still in the race, Rob Faucheux, a political analyst and attorney, said her strategy needed to be specific to put that cloud behind her and become more viable as a candidate.
"For an underdog candidate, she needs to position herself in a way where there is some drama and difference in what she is saying to draw attention to herself," Faucheux said.
"Black women make up a significant portion of the democratic electorate. She will not get them by just being a black woman," Faucheux said. "She needs to have a campaign beyond that."
And during her presidential campaign, Moseley Braun said she did.
"I've got experience that none of the other candidates have.... Being the only woman means that I bring a perspective and a practical bent toward problem solving that none of the other candidates can claim," she said "....I am the only one who is a former diplomat, the only one that has served in state and local government.... That has been my record for 20 years in government. That is what distinguishes me."
Moseley Braun, who had been working as a consultant and running a business law practice since returning from New Zealand, said her platform of rebuilding America physically and spiritually was a practical one.
"Under the physical rebuilding of America, that breaks down into three major functions. First is economic revitalization. The second is education, and the third is health care," she said.
Moseley Braun said the economy was in the doldrums and her plan to revitalize it included using money the Bush administration used for tax cuts to rebuild crumbling schools. She said that would provide jobs and better prepare students to improve the nation's work force.
She proposed establishing a universal system of health care coverage that is not dependent on employment. "I believe that will help stimulate our economy, and give our export sector a boost in terms of international competition with competitors in which the government provides for health care," Moseley Braun said.
America's spiritual renewal would come from rejecting the idea of living in fear, Moseley Braun said. "Some of the excesses that this administration has resorted to -- tapping people's e-mails and phones and turning people in for taking the wrong books out of the library ... -- we will move back from those excesses of the far right wing.
"I want to restore hope and optimism and get away from the pandering to fear," Moseley Braun said during her presidential run. "They have frightened the American people and continue to frighten the American people as a way of holding onto power and using 9/11 as a cloak for actions the American people would not tolerate under any other circumstances."