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Sens. Obama and Kennedy Deliver Remarks at a Campaign Event

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Monday, January 28, 2008; 4:36 PM

SPEAKERS: SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.

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SEN. EDWARD M. KENNEDY, D-MASS.

REP. PATRICK J. KENNEDY, D-R.I.

CAROLINE KENNEDY

[*]

P. KENNEDY: Thank you, Amanda.

Thank you all for being here.

And let's here it again for Amanda. What a great job. Let's hear it for Amanda.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I want to join Amanda in congratulating my father for the great achievement that he made in shepherding the largest college tuition assistance bill in our nation's history. Let's give a great round of applause for my dad.

(APPLAUSE)

But, you know, something else that all of you might also appreciate in addition to that is that one of my father's greatest achievements is that he lowered the voting age to 18.

(APPLAUSE)

And I can see that all of you are going to make good use of that this election, right?

(APPLAUSE)

I draw strength from my father and my uncle's leadership to try to carry on the fight for social justice so that one day we can erase all inequity in this great land and treat one another with the same human dignity with which we ourselves expect to be treated.

(APPLAUSE)

Every day, I commit myself to fight for social justice and equality for all Americans, including an end to the discrimination and the unconscionable sense of exile suffered by individuals and families who are afflicted with mental illness.

(APPLAUSE)

Much like the era of President Kennedy, we now find ourselves standing on a precipice of crisis: We face international threats, economic uncertainty and a widening political and social divide at home.

In times such as these, we need, as we had with my uncle, a leader who can galvanize a new generation of citizens to carry our nation forward, to confront our era's greatest challenges.

P. KENNEDY: In times such as these, we need, as we had with my uncle, a leader who can inspire confidence and faith in our government, inspiring a belief that our government can be good again.

(APPLAUSE)

As President Kennedy said, "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present or certain to miss the future."

(APPLAUSE)

I believe that in order to make the most of our future, we need to embrace change.

(APPLAUSE)

That is why I'm so excited to join all of you today, with my dad and my cousin, to declare my complete support for a new generation of leadership...

(APPLAUSE)

... declare my support for someone who dares to dream, who dares to hope, who dares to challenge us to be a better nation; someone who will restore a sense of community to a nation torn by conflict; someone who will restore a sense of mutual obligation to one another, to restore a belief on the face of adversity, that we can join together to have some control over our own fate and our own destiny.

That someone is Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

P. KENNEDY: Now, it really goes without saying how great an honor it is for me to introduce my cousin Caroline Kennedy.

(APPLAUSE)

Whether it's her written works or her own service, there's no one who has understood more the power a leader can wield when they have the courage enough and are audacious enough to inspire change.

It's now my honor to introduce a proven patriot, an inspiration in her own right, Caroline Kennedy.

(APPLAUSE)

C. KENNEDY: Hi, everyone. Thank you.

Thank you, Patrick, for such a nice introduction.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, Patrick.

And thank you, all.

And thank you for continuing our family's proud tradition of public service.

It's a special privilege for me to come to American University, where President Kennedy made his immortal call for a world at peace, a world made safe for diversity, a world that cherishes our children's future.

Over the years, I've been deeply moved by the people who've told me that they wish they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way they did when my father was president. This longing is even more profound today.

Fortunately, there is one candidate who offers that same sense of hope and inspiration...

(APPLAUSE)

... and I am proud to endorse Senator Barack Obama for president of the United States.

I'm happy that my three children are here with me, because they were the first people who made me realize that Barack Obama is the president we need.

(APPLAUSE)

C. KENNEDY: He is already inspiring all Americans, young and old, to believe in ourselves, tying that belief to our highest ideals -- ideals of hope, justice, opportunity and peace -- and urging us to imagine that, together, we can do great things.

(APPLAUSE)

Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

C. KENNEDY: My Uncle Teddy feels the same way, and I am proud to stand with him today.

(APPLAUSE)

For more than four decades in the Senate, Teddy has led the fight on the most important issues of our time: civil rights, social justice and economic opportunity.

(APPLAUSE)

Workers, families, the elderly, the disabled, immigrants, men and women in uniform all have no stronger champion.

He has stood with teachers, students and parents to improve our public schools and help with the high price of a college education.

And when...

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Teddy! Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!

C. KENNEDY: And when it comes to fighting for quality, affordable health-care, Teddy is in a league of his own.

C. KENNEDY: I know his brothers would be so proud of him. He is an inspiration to all the members of our family, always looking to the future, never the past, always hopeful, always believing that each of us is capable of our very, very best.

You know him well, but I'm proud to introduce him now, Senator Edward Kennedy.

(APPLAUSE)

E. KENNEDY: Thank you. thank you. Thank you.

Thank you, Caroline, for that wonderful introduction, and for your courage and bold vision, for your insight and understanding, and for the power and reach of your words.

(APPLAUSE)

Like you, we too want a president who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American dream and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal, and who can lift our spirits and make us believe again.

Thank you, Caroline. Thank you, Caroline.

(APPLAUSE)

Your mother and father would be so proud of you today.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, Patrick, for your leadership in Congress, and for being here to celebrate and support a leader who truly has the power to inspire and make America good again from sea to shining sea.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, American University. Thank you, American University.

(APPLAUSE)

E. KENNEDY: I feel change in the air. What about you?

(APPLAUSE)

Every time I've been asked over the past year who I would support in the Democratic primary, my answer has always been the same: I'll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country's best days are still to come.

(APPLAUSE)

I've found that candidate, and I think you have, too.

(APPLAUSE)

But first let me say how much I respect the strength, the work and the dedication of two other Democrats still in the race: Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

(APPLAUSE)

(BOOING)

They are my friends. They are my friends. They have been my colleagues in the Senate.

John Edwards has been a powerful advocate for economic and social justice.

(APPLAUSE)

And Hillary Clinton has been in the forefront on issues ranging from health care to the rights of women around the world.

(APPLAUSE)

Whoever is our nominee will have my enthusiastic support and will have yours, too.

(APPLAUSE)

Let there be no doubt: We are all committed to seeing a Democratic president in 2008.

(APPLAUSE)

But I believe there is one candidate who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history.

E. KENNEDY: He understands what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the fierce urgency of now.

(APPLAUSE)

He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past.

He is a leader who sees the world clearly, without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in without demonizing those who hold a different view.

(APPLAUSE)

He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to the better angels of our nature.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm proud to stand with him here today and offer my help, offer my voice, offer my energy, my commitment to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!

E. KENNEDY: Like most of the nation, I was moved four years ago as he told us a profound truth that we were not, we must not be just red states and blues states, but we must be the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

And since that time, I have marveled at his grit and his grace, as he travelled this country and inspired record turnouts of people of all ages, of all races, of all genders, of all parties, of all faiths to get fired up and ready to go.

(APPLAUSE)

I've seen him.

E. KENNEDY: I've seen him connect with people from every walk of life and with senators on both sides of the aisle.

With every person he meets, every crowd he inspires, everyone he touches, he generates a real hope that our greatest days as a nation are still ahead, and this generation of Americans...

(APPLAUSE)

... like others before us, can unite to meet our own rendezvous with destiny.

We know the true record of Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

There is the courage. When so many others were silent or simply went along, from the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

And let no one deny that truth.

There is the great intelligence of someone who could have had a glittering career in corporate law but chose instead to serve his community and then enter public life.

(APPLAUSE)

There is the tireless skill of a senator who was there in the early mornings to help us hammer out a needed compromise in immigration reform, who always saw a way to protect national security and the dignity of people who did not have a vote.

E. KENNEDY: For them, he was a voice for justice -- a voice for justice. For them, he was a voice for justice.

(APPLAUSE)

And there is the clear effectiveness of Barack Obama in fashioning legislation to put high-quality teachers in our classrooms and in pushing and prodding the Senate to pass the most far-reaching ethics reform in the history of the nation. There is that Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

Now with Barack Obama, there is a new national leader who has given America a different kind of campaign, not just about himself, but about all of us...

(APPLAUSE)

... a campaign about the country we will become if we can arise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another.

(APPLAUSE)

I remember another such time in the 1960s. When I came to the Senate at the age of 30, we had a new president who inspired the nation, especially the young, to seek a new frontier.

Those inspired young people marched, sat in at lunch counters, protested the war in Vietnam and served honorably in that war even when they were opposed to it.

E. KENNEDY: They realized -- they realized that when they asked what they could do for their country, they could change the world.

It was the young who led the first Earth Day and issued a clarion call to protect our environment. It was the young.

(APPLAUSE)

It was the young who enlisted in the cause of civil rights and equality for women, the young who joined the Peace Corps and showed the world the hopeful face of America.

At the fifth anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps, I asked one of these young Americans why they volunteered, and I will never, ever forget the answer: "It was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country."

This is another such time, my friends.

(APPLAUSE)

I sense the same kind of yearning today, the same kind of hunger to move on and move America forward. I see it not just in the young people, but in all of our people. And in Barack Obama, I see it, as well.

(APPLAUSE)

And in Barack Obama, I see not just the audacity, but the possibility of hope for the America that is yet to be.

(APPLAUSE)

What counts in our leadership is not the length of years in Washington, but the reach of our vision, the strength of our beliefs and that rare quality of mind and spirit that can call forth the best in our country and the best in the world.

E. KENNEDY: With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion.

(APPLAUSE)

With Barack Obama, we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay.

(APPLAUSE)

With Barack Obama, we'll close the door on the old economics that has written off the poor and left the middle class poorer and less secure.

(APPLAUSE)

He offers a strategy of posterity so that America will once again lead the world.

With Barack Obama, we'll break the old gridlock and finally make health care what it should be in America: a fundamental right for all, not just an expensive privilege for the few.

(APPLAUSE)

We will make the United States the great leader, and not the great roadblock, in the fateful fight against global warming.

(APPLAUSE)

And with Barack Obama, we will end a war in Iraq that he has always stood against, a war that has cost us the lives of thousands of our sons and daughters, a war that America never should have fought.

(APPLAUSE)

I have seen him in the Senate. He will keep us strong, defend the nation against real threats of terrorism and proliferation.

So let us reject the councils of doubt and calculation.

Let us remember that when Franklin Roosevelt envisioned Social Security, he didn't decide, no, it was too ambitious, too big a dream, too hard. When John Kennedy thought of going to the moon, he didn't say, "No. It's too far. Maybe we can't get there; shouldn't even try."

I'm convinced we can reach our goals only if we are not petty when our cause is so great, only if we find a way past the stale ideas, stalemate of our times, and only if we replace the politics of fear with the politics of hope, and only if we have the courage to do change.

(APPLAUSE)

Barack Obama is the one person running for president who can bring us that change. Barack Obama is the one person running for president who can be that change.

(APPLAUSE)

I love this country. I believe in the bright light of hope and possibility. I always have, even in the darkest hours.

I know what America can achieve. I've seen it. I've lived it.

And with Barack Obama, we can do it again.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

E. KENNEDY: And I know that he's ready to be president on day one.

(APPLAUSE)

And when he raises his hand on Inauguration Day, at that very moment -- at that very moment, we will lift the spirits of our nation and begin to restore America's standing in the world.

There was another time when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a new frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic president who was widely respected in the party.

Harry Truman said, "We needed someone with greater experience," and added, "May I urge you to be patient?"

And John Kennedy replied, "The world is changing. The old ways will not do. It's time for a new generation of leadership."

(APPLAUSE)

So it is with Barack Obama.

He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now. I believe that a wave of change is moving across America.

If we know not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we, together, will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future.

My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey to have the courage to choose change. It's time, again, for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, American University.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you, American University.

(APPLAUSE)

To Congressman Kennedy, to Caroline Kennedy, to Senator Ted Kennedy and his lovely wife, Vicki, to Caroline's three children, Rose, Tatiana and Jack, who were my greatest advocates over the past several months, to Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, other members of the Kennedy family who are here today, and to Mayor Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington, D.C...

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!

OBAMA: I love you, too.

(APPLAUSE)

I thank all of the Kennedys for your words, for your support and the service that you've rendered to this country.

(APPLAUSE)

I stand here today with a great deal of humility.

I know what your support means. I know the cherished place the Kennedy family holds in the hearts of the American people.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And that is as it should be, because the Kennedy family, more than any other, has always stood for what's best about the Democratic Party and what is best about America.

(APPLAUSE)

They've stood by the idea that each of us can make a difference and that all of us ought to try; that no frontier is beyond our reach when we are united and not divided; and that those of us who are not content to settle for the world as it is, can remake the world as it should be; that together, we can seek a new world.

(APPLAUSE)

No one embodies this proud legacy more than the people we've just heard from.

For a woman who was introduced to America in the spotlight, Caroline Kennedy has worked out of public view to bring about changes in communities all across the country. Whether it's her work with the New York City's public schools or the Profile in Courage Award, or it's her books on politics, civil rights and history, Caroline has been a quiet force for change in this country. And is it an extraordinary honor to have her support.

(APPLAUSE)

It is an honor as well to have Congressman Kennedy's support.

(APPLAUSE)

He has been a champion in the fight to make sure that every American has equal access to the quality mental health care that they need. It is one of the great civil rights issues of our time, and it is an issue I'm proud to have worked with him on.

He's not just part of the next generation of Kennedy leaders, he is part of the next generation of Democratic and American leaders. And I look forward to fighting by his side in the months and years to come.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Of course, it is a special privilege to have the support of the congressman's father, Caroline's uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy.

(APPLAUSE)

In the year I was born...

(LAUGHTER)

... hold on a second.

(LAUGHTER)

In the year I was born, President Kennedy let out word that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. He was right; it had. It was passed to his youngest brother.

From the battles of the 1960s to the battles of today, he has carried that torch, lighting the way for all who share his American ideals.

(APPLAUSE)

It's a torch that he's carried as a champion for working Americans, a fierce proponent of universal health care, a tireless advocate for giving every child in this country a quality education.

(APPLAUSE)

It's a torch he's carried as the lion of the Senate, a man whose mastery of the issues and command of the levers of government, whose determined leadership and deft political skills are matched only by his legendary ability to tell a good story.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Ted Kennedy stands apart from the prevailing wisdom in Washington that has reduced politics to a game of tactics and transactions in which no principle is beyond sacrifice.

And his public life is a testimony to what can be achieved when you focus on lifting the country up, rather than tearing political opponents down.

(APPLAUSE)

I think it may be hard for university students to fully grasp the achievements of this man, because so much of his work was done before many of you were born and so much of it has been done since.

But few public servants in our nation's history have had such a profound influence on the course of our nation. Few leaders in this country have more experience in how to bring about real change. And few have better judgment about where we're headed as a party and as a people.

So, today...

(APPLAUSE)

So to have this man stand beside me today is more than just politics for me. It is personal.

I was too young to remember John Kennedy, and I was just a child when Robert Kennedy ran for president. But in the stories I heard growing up, I saw how my grandparents and mother spoke about them and about that period of our nation's life as a time of great hope and achievement.

They inspired my family as they inspired families all across the country.

And I think my own sense of what is possible in this country, part of the reason I stand here today, comes in part from what they said America was like in the days of John and Robert Kennedy.

OBAMA: I believe that's true for millions of Americans. I've seen it in the offices in this city, where portraits of John and Robert hang on office walls or collections of their speeches sit on bookshelves.

I've seen it in my travels all across this country. Because no matter where I go or who I talk to, one thing I can say for certain is that the dream has never died.

(APPLAUSE)

The dream has never died.

(APPLAUSE)

The dream has never died. It lives on. It lives on in the older folks I meet who remember what American once was and know what America can be once again. It lives on in the young people who've only seen John or Robert on television but are ready to answer their call.

(APPLAUSE)

It lives on in those Americans who refuse to be deterred by the scale of the challenges we face, who know, as President Kennedy said at this university, that no problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.

And it lives on in those Americans, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, Latino and Asian and Native American, gay and straight, who are tired of a politics that divides us and want to recapture the sense of common purpose that we had when John Kennedy was president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That is the dream we hold in our hearts. That is the kind of leadership we long for in this country. And that is the kind of leadership I intend to offer as president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!

OBAMA: So make no mistake: The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders; it is not about rich vs. poor, young vs. old, and it is certainly not about black vs. white.

It is about...

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It is about the past vs. the future.

(APPLAUSE)

It is about looking backwards or marching forwards. It's about whether we're going to seize this moment to write the next great American story, so some day we can tell our children that this was the time when we healed our nation...

(APPLAUSE)

... this was the time when we repaired our world ,and this was the time when we renewed the America -- that this was the time when we renewed the America that has led generations of weary travelers from all over the world to find opportunity and liberty and hope on our doorstep.

(APPLAUSE)

One of these travelers was my father. I barely knew him, but when after his death, I finally took my first trip to his village in Kenya and ask my grandmother -- and I asked my grandmother who lives there in a small shack without running water or electricity -- I asked her if there was anything left from him. And she opened a trunk and took out a stack of letters which she handed to me.

There were many more than 30 of them, all handwritten by my father, all addressed to colleges and universities across America, all filled with the hope of a young man who had been born into poverty, but who dreamed of more for his life. And his prayer was answered when he was brought over to study in this country. That's how he ended up meeting my mother.

What I learned much later is that part of what made it possible for him to come here was an effort by the young senator from Massachusetts at the time, John F. Kennedy

(APPLAUSE)

... and by a grant -- and by a grant from the Kennedy Foundation to help Kenyan students pay for travel.

So it is partly because of their generosity that my father came to this country.

And because he did, I stand before you today inspired by America's past, filled with hope for America's future and determined to do my part in writing our next great chapter.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: So, that is the essence of America: each generation reaching back and bringing along those who might have otherwise been left behind.

So, I'm asking for your hands, I'm asking for your help and I'm asking for your hearts. And if you will stand with me in the days to come, if you will stand for change so that our children have the same chances somebody gave us, if you'll stand to keep the American dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity and still thirst for justice, if you are ready to stop settling for what the cynics tell you you must accept and finally reach for what you know is possible, then we will not just win these primaries, we will not just when this general election. We will change the course of history and write a new (inaudible) for change in this country. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, everybody. God bless you.

(APPLAUSE)

END

.ETX

Jan 28, 2008 14:12 ET .EOF

Source: CQ Transcriptions

© 2008, Congressional Quarterly Inc., All Rights Reserved


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