Obama's victory speech of June 3, 2008
The transcript of Barack
Obama's Democratic nomination victory speech
Article added on June 4, 2008 at 10:20 Swiss time
Tonight, after fifty-four
hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.
months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old
State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been
traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said -
because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you
believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you
chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes
and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey
with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better
day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the
Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
I want to thank every
American who stood with us over the course of this campaign - through the
good days and the bad; from the snows of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of
Sioux Falls. And tonight I also want to thank the men and woman who took
this journey with me as fellow candidates for President.
At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party
put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to
run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have
learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love
America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They
are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years
is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further on this
journey than anyone else. Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this
campaign not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done
before, but because she's a leader who inspires millions of Americans with
her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us
We've certainly had our differences over the last
sixteen months. But as someone who's shared a stage with her many times, I
can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning - even in the
face of tough odds - is exactly what sent her and Bill Clinton to sign up
for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago; what sent her to work
at the Children's Defense Fund and made her fight for health care as First
Lady; what led her to the United States Senate and fueled her
barrier-breaking campaign for the presidency - an unyielding desire to
improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight
may be. And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for
universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory.
When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it
will be because she worked to help make it happen. Our party and our country
are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had
the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
There are those who say that this primary has somehow
left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary,
there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very
first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this
election isn't just about the party in charge of Washington, it's about the
need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans,
and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have
broken records and inspired a nation.
All of you chose to
support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we
aren't the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block
after block to make your voice heard. You didn't do that because of me or
Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts
that at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - we cannot
afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better
future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of
that future tonight, I say - let us begin the work together. Let us unite in
common effort to chart a new course for America.
In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul
with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a
man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I
respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My
differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has
proposed in this campaign.
Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from
his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his
It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush
ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.
It's not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies
that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help
Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college - policies that have
lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap
between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain
And it's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks
everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi
politicians - a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq,
while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the
American people any safer.
So I'll say this - there are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to
pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new. But
change is not one of them.
Change is a foreign policy that doesn't begin and end with a war that
should've never been authorized and never been waged. I won't stand here and
pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an
option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years -
especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is
isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored.
We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in -
but start leaving we must. It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for
their future. It's time to rebuild our military and give our veterans the
care they need and the benefits they deserve when they come home. It's time
to refocus our efforts on al Qaeda's leadership and Afghanistan, and rally
the world against the common threats of the 21st century - terrorism and
nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. That's
what change is.
Change is realizing that meeting today's threats requires not just our
firepower, but the power of our diplomacy - tough, direct diplomacy where
the President of the United States isn't afraid to let any petty dictator
know where America stands and what we stand for. We must once again have the
courage and conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of
Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy. That's what the American people want.
That's what change is.
Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and
workers who created it. It's understanding that the struggles facing working
families can't be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks
for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a
tax break, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming
how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to
science and innovation. It's understanding that fiscal responsibility and
shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was
John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last
few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and
towns that have been hardest hit by this economy - cities in Michigan, and
Ohio, and right here in Minnesota - he'd understand the kind of change that
people are looking for.
Maybe if he went to Iowa and met the student who works the night shift after
a full day of class and still can't pay the medical bills for a sister who's
ill, he'd understand that she can't afford four more years of a health care
plan that only takes care of the healthy and wealthy. She needs us to pass
health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it
and brings down premiums for every family who needs it. That's the change we
Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can't
even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he'd understand
that we can't afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators.
That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to
raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and
oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future - an
energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can't
be outsourced. That's the change we need.
And maybe if he spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or St. Paul
or where he spoke tonight in New Orleans, he'd understand that we can't
afford to leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind; that we owe it to
our children to invest in early childhood education; to recruit an army of
new teachers and give them better pay and more support; to finally decide
that in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should
not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every
American. That's the change we need in America. That's why I'm running for
The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of
policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a
debate the American people deserve. But what you don't deserve is another
election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won't
hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses
religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon - that sees our opponents
not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may
call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are
always Americans first.
what the good Senator from Arizona said tonight, I have seen people of
differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two
decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself. I've walked
arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South Side of Chicago and watched
tensions fade as black, white, and Latino fought together for good jobs and
good schools. I've sat across the table from law enforcement and civil
rights advocates to reform a criminal justice system that sent thirteen
innocent people to death row. And I've worked with friends in the other
party to provide more children with health insurance and more working
families with a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure
that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent; and
to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda
In our country, I have
found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but
because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define
us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington,
Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common
challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which
call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.
So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the
formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields
of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that
So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and
liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold
opportunity and prosperity.
So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who
shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for
So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges
and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that's better,
and kinder, and more just.
And so it must be for us.
America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on
the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the
challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge
with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face
it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if
we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I
am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look
back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide
care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the
rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the
moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as
the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment - this was the time - when
we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect
our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and
may God Bless the United States of America.
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Barack Obama during his speech in St. Paul on June 3, 2008. Photo copyright