Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Transcript provided for Obama Super Tuesday speech
BARACK OBAMA: Thank you. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
(Chants of "Obama! Obama!")
Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.
Well, first of all, let me just say I could not have a better senior senator than our great senator from the state of Illinois, Dick Durbin. (Cheers, applause.)
I have too many friends to mention each one of them individually. But it is good to be back home. (Cheers, applause.) It is good to be home. It is good to be home. It is good to have Michelle home. (Cheers, applause.) The girls are with us tonight, but we asked them, "Do you want to come on stage?" And Malia, our nine-year-old, said, "Daddy, you know that's not my thing." (Laughter.) So they're upstairs doing what they do. (Laughter.)
Before I begin, I just want to send my condolences to the victims of the storms that hit Tennessee and Arkansas today. They are in our thoughts and in our prayers, and we hope that our federal government will respond quickly and rapidly to make sure that they get all the help that they need. (Applause.)
The polls are just closing in California. (Cheers, applause.) And the votes are still being counted in cities and towns across America. But there is one thing --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Barack.
MR. OBAMA: You know I love you back. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) But there is one thing on this February night that we do not need the final results to know. Our time has come. (Cheers, applause.) Our time has come. Our movement is real. (Cheers, applause.) And change is coming to America. (Cheers, applause.)
Only a few hundred miles from here, almost one year ago to the day, as Dick said, we stood on the steps of the old state capitol to reaffirm a truth that was spoken there so many generations ago, that a house divided cannot stand -- (cheers) -- that we are more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and always will be the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)
(Chants of "USA! USA! USA!")
What began as a whisper in Springfield soon carried across the cornfields of Iowa, where farmers and factory workers, students and seniors stood up in numbers we have never seen before. They stood up to say that maybe this year we don't have to settle for politics where scoring points is more important than solving problems. (Cheers, applause.) Maybe this year we can finally start doing something about health care we can't afford. (Cheers.) Maybe this year we can start doing something about mortgages we can't pay. Maybe this year, this time can be different. (Cheers, applause.)
Their voices echoed from the hills of New Hampshire to the deserts of Nevada, where teachers and cooks and kitchen workers stood up to say that maybe Washington doesn't have to be run by lobbyists anymore. (Cheers, applause.) Maybe the voices of the American people can finally be heard again. (Cheers, applause.)
They reached the coast of South Carolina, when people said that maybe we don't have to be divided by race and region and gender -- (cheers, applause) -- that the crumbling schools are stealing the future of black children and white children -- (cheers, applause) -- that we can come together and build an America that gives every child everywhere the opportunity to live out their dreams. This time can be different. (Cheers, applause.)
And today, on this Tuesday in February, in states north and south, east and west, what began as a whisper in Springfield has swelled to a chorus of millions calling for change. (Cheers, applause.) It's a chorus that cannot be ignored, a chorus that cannot be deterred. This time can be different because this campaign for the presidency of the United States of America is different. (Cheers, applause.)
(Chants of "Yes, We Can! Yes, We Can!")
It's different not because of me. It's different because of you -- (cheers, applause) -- because you are tired of being disappointed and you're tired of being let down. (Cheers, applause.) You're tired of hearing promises made and plans proposed in the heat of a campaign, only to have nothing change when everyone goes back to Washington. (Cheers, applause.)
Nothing changes because lobbyists just write another check or politicians start worrying about how to win the next election instead of why they should -- (cheers, applause) -- or because they focus on who's up and who's down instead of who matters.
And while Washington is consumed with the same drama and divisions and distractions, another family puts up a "For sale" sign in their front yard, another factory shuts its doors, another soldier waves goodbye as he leaves on another tour of duty in a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged -- (cheers, applause) -- that goes on and on and on. (Cheers, applause.)
But in this election, at this moment, you are standing up all across this country to say, "Not this time" -- (cheers) -- "not this year."
(Crowd says in unison, "Not this year.")
The stakes are too high and the challenges too great to play the same Washington game with the same Washington players and somehow expect a different result. This time must be different. This time we have to turn the page. This time we have to write a new chapter in American history. (Cheers, applause.) This time we have to seize the moment. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, this isn't about me and it's not about Senator Clinton. As I've said before, she was a friend before this campaign. She'll be a friend after it's over. (Cheers.) I respect her. I respect her as a colleague. I congratulate her on her victories tonight. She's been running an outstanding race.
But this fall, this fall we owe the American people a real choice. (Cheers, applause.) We have to choose between change and more of the same. We have to choose between looking backwards and looking forward. (Cheers, applause.) We have to choose between our future and our past.
It's a choice between going into this election with Republicans and independents already united against us or going against their nominee with a campaign that has united Americans of all parties, from all backgrounds, from all races, from all religions, around a common purpose. (Cheers, applause.)
It's a choice between having a debate with the other party about who has the most experience in Washington or having one about who's most likely to change Washington -- (cheers, applause) -- because that's a debate that we can win. (Cheers, applause.)
It's a choice between a candidate who's taken more money from Washington lobbyists than either Republican in this race and a campaign that has not taken a dime of their money because we have been funded by you. You have funded this campaign. (Cheers, applause.)
(Chants of "Yes, We Can! Yes, We Can!")
And if I am your nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq, because I didn't -- (cheers) -- or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, because I haven't -- (cheers, applause) -- or that I support the Bush-Cheney doctrine of not talking to leaders we don't like, because I profoundly disagree with that approach. (Cheers, applause.) And he will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it's okay for America to use torture, because it's never okay. That is the choice in this election. (Cheers, applause.)
The Republicans running for president have already tied themselves to the past. They speak of a 100-year war in Iraq. They talk about billions more in tax breaks for the wealthiest few, who don't need them and didn't even ask for them, tax breaks that mortgage our children's future on a mountain of debt at a time when there are families who can't pay their medical bills and students who can't pay their tuition. (Cheers, applause.)
Those Republicans are running on the politics of yesterday. And that is why our party must be the party of tomorrow. (Cheers, applause.) And that is the party that I intend to lead as president of the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)
I'll be the president who ends the tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas -- (cheers) -- and start putting them in the pockets of hard-working Americans who deserve them, and struggling homeowners who deserve them and seniors who should retire with dignity and respect, and deserve them. (Cheers, applause.)
I'll be the president who finally brings Democrats and Republicans together to make health care affordable and available for every single American. (Cheers, applause.)
We will put a college education within the reach of anyone who wants to go. (Cheers, applause.) And instead of just talking about how great our teachers are, we will reward them for their greatness with more pay and better support. (Cheers, applause.)
And we will harness the ingenuity of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all. (Cheers, applause.) And we will invest in solar and wind and biodiesel, clean energy, green energy that can fuel economic development for generations to come. That's what we're going to do when I'm president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)
When I'm president, we will put an end to the politics of fear -- (cheers, applause) -- a politics that uses 9/11 as a way to scare up votes. We're going to start seeing 9/11 as a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the 21st century, terrorism and nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease. (Cheers, applause.)
We can do this. (Cheers, applause.) We can do this.
(Crowd says in unison, "Yes, we can.")
But it will not be easy. It will require struggle and it will require sacrifice. There will be setbacks, and we will make mistakes. And that is why we need all the help we can get. (Cheers, applause.)
So tonight I want to speak directly to all those Americans who have yet to join this movement but still hunger for change. They know it in their gut. They know we can do better than we're doing. They know that we can take our politics to a higher level. But they're afraid. They've been taught to be cynical. They're doubtful that it can be done.
But I'm here to say tonight to all of you who still harbor those doubts, we need you. (Cheers, applause.) We need you to stand with us. (Cheers, applause.) We need you to work with us. (Cheers, applause.) We need you to help us prove that together, ordinary people can still do extraordinary things in the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)
I am blessed to be standing in the city where my own extraordinary journey of service began. (Cheers, applause.) You know, just a few miles from here, down on the south side, in the shadow of a shuttered steel plant, it was there that I learned what it takes to make change happen. I was a young organizer then -- in fact, there are some folks here who I organized with -- a young organizer intent on fighting joblessness and poverty on the south side.
And I still remember one of the very first meetings I put together. We had worked on it for days. We had made phone calls. We had knocked on doors. We had put out fliers. But on that night, nobody showed up. (Laughter.) Our volunteers who had worked so hard felt so defeated, they wanted to quit. And to be honest, so did I. But at that moment, I happened to look outside and I saw some young boys tossing stones at a boarded-up apartment building across the street. They were like the boys in so many cities across the country, little boys, but without prospects, without guidance, without hope for the future. And I turned to the volunteers and I asked them, "Before you quit, before you give up, I want you to answer one question: What will happen to those boys if we don't stand up for them?" (Cheers, applause.)
And those volunteers, they looked out that window and they saw those boys and they decided that night to keep going, to keep organizing, keep fighting for better schools, fighting for better jobs, fighting for better health care. And I did too. And slowly but surely, in the weeks and months to come, the community began to change.
You see, the challenges we face will not be solved with one meeting in one night. It will not be resolved on even a Super Duper Tuesday. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. (Cheers, applause.) We are the change that we seek. We are the hope of those boys who have so little, who've been told that they cannot have what they dream, that they cannot be what they imagine. Yes, they can. (Cheers, applause.)
We are the hope of the father who goes to work before dawn and lies awake with doubt that tells him he cannot give his children the same opportunities that someone gave him. Yes, he can.
(Crowd says in unison, "Yes, he can.")
We are the hope of the woman who hears that her city will not be rebuilt, that she cannot somehow claim the life that was swept away in a terrible storm. Yes, she can.
(Crowd says in unison, "Yes, she can.")
We are the hope of the future, the answer to the cynics who tell us our house must stand divided, that we cannot come together, that we cannot remake this world as it should be.
We know that we have seen something happen over the last several weeks, over the past several months. We know that what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored -- (cheers, applause) -- that will not be deterred, that will ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation -- (cheers, applause) -- repair this world, make this time different than all the rest. Yes, we can.
Let's go to work. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
(Chants of "Yes, We Can! Yes, We Can!")
Thank you, Chicago. Let's go get to work. I love you. (Cheers, applause.)