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Gov. Richardson's Endorsement of Barack Obama

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New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced his support for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as the Democratic presidential nominee Friday at a rally in Portland, Ore.Video by AP

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Friday, March 21, 2008; 12:57 PM

SEN. OBAMA AND GOV. RICHARDSON DELIVER REMARKS AT A

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CAMPAIGN EVENT, PORTLAND, OREGON

MARCH 21, 2008

SPEAKERS: SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.; GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, D-N.M.

RICHARDSON: My friends, earlier this week, an extraordinary American gave a historic speech.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Barack Obama addressed the issue of race with the eloquence and sincerity and optimism that we have come to expect of him. He didn't evade the tough issues to soothe us with comforting half-truths; rather, he inspired us by reminding us of the awesome potential residing in our own responsibility.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Obama could have given a safer speech. He is, after all, well ahead in the delegates count for our party nomination.

(APPLAUSE)

He could have waited for the controversy over the deplorable remarks of Reverend Wright to subside, as it surely would have. Instead, Senator Obama showed us once again what kind of leader he is.

(APPLAUSE)

He spoke to us -- he spoke to us as adults. He spoke to us as adults. He asked us to ponder the reign (ph) of our racially divided past, to rise above it, and to seize the opportunity to carry forward of many patriots of all races who struggled and died to bring us together.

Senator Obama reminded us that cynicism is not realism and that hope is not folly. He called upon us not just to dream about a less racially divided America, but also to do the hard work needed to build such an America.

(APPLAUSE)

He asked every American to see the reality and the pain of other Americans so that together we can rise above that which has divided us. He appealed to the best in us.

(APPLAUSE)

As a Hispanic-American, I was particularly touched by his words.

(APPLAUSE)

(speaking Spanish)

(APPLAUSE)

I've been troubled -- I've been troubled by the demonization of immigrants, specifically Hispanics, by too many in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

Hate crimes against Hispanics are rising as a direct result that now, in tough economic times, people look for scapegoats. And I fear that people will continue to exploit our racial differences and place them on others not like them.

We all know the real culprit: the disastrous economic policies of the Bush administration.

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Obama has started a discussion in this country that is long overdue and rejects the politics of pitting race against race. He understands that clearly by only bringing people together and by bridging our differences can we succeed together as Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

His words are one of a courageous, thoughtful leader who understands that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And, after eight years of George W. Bush, we desperately need that kind of leader.

(APPLAUSE)

Our national security and our global standing have been gravely damaged by the divided partnership of recent years. We need a president who can bring us together as a nation so that we can face global challenges and repair the damage done in the last eight years.

I am convinced that Barack Obama will make the historic and vital investments into clean and renewable energy to help create green jobs...

(APPLAUSE)

... and fight global warming. Barack knows that the safety and future of every American child requires that we restore our shared sense of national purpose, so that we can work together to rebuild our alliances and rehabilitate our image in a dangerous world.

By uniting our nation, we can reverse America's global decline. We must restore our international reputation, our influence, and our capacity to lead others.

America must become the beacon for the world again. We need a foreign policy based upon American ideals...

(APPLAUSE)

... and not the mere ideology of a president, a foreign policy of diplomacy and respect for international human rights.

(APPLAUSE)

We prospered and prevailed in the Cold War because both our enemies and friends knew that containment of the Soviet Union and the promotion of democratic values was not a Democratic or a Republican policy. It was an American policy, the very essence of what America was.

Senator Obama understands the importance of realism, of principle and bipartisanship in foreign policy. He opposed the Iraq war from the beginning because he knew that...

(APPLAUSE)

... despite what the administration claimed, that this war would not be easy. He also opposed the war because he saw the president's rush to employ military force and to do so without the support of our allies.

And he saw the war also what it also became: a terrible source of partisan political division and a catastrophic distraction from the war that had united us against the real threat posed by Al Qaida.

Now I trust him to do what is long overdue: end the Iraq war and bring our troops home.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I know Senator Obama quite well. I got to know him when I chaired that last Democratic National Convention, where he gave that wonderful keynote address.

(APPLAUSE)

And now, last year, as we campaigned against each other for the presidency, I came to fully appreciate his steadfast patriotism and remarkable talents. And I also realized that here was a really good guy.

(APPLAUSE)

And I'll tell you -- and I'll tell you why. And I'll tell you why. I'll tell you why. You all watched those long, tedious Democratic debates, right? I could barely get recognized at any of them.

The one time when I was recognized -- and I was sitting next to Senator Obama -- I said, "Finally I've been recognized." So I turned to him, and we started chatting a little bit. And then, all of a sudden, the moderator, instead of going after other candidates that hadn't been recognized, came back to me and asked me to answer the question. Well, needless to say, I wasn't listening.

(LAUGHTER)

And I turned to Senator Obama in horror about to say, "Could you repeat the question?" And Senator Obama whispered, he said "Katrina, Katrina." And so I then gave my answer on Katrina.

(LAUGHTER)

He could have thrown me under the bus, but he stood behind me.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, don't tell anyone about that incident.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, I also felt a kinship with him, because we both had one foreign-born parent and we both lived abroad as children. In part, because of these experiences, Barack and I share a deep sense of our nation's responsibilities in the world.

Barack Obama, you're a leader who has shown courage, judgment and wisdom throughout the years. You understand the security challenges of the 21st century, and you will be an outstanding commander-in- chief.

(APPLAUSE)

Above all, you will be a president who brings this nation together and restores American global leadership. Your candidacy -- and this is an expression of your candidacy -- is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our nation, and you are a once-in-a-lifetime leader.

(APPLAUSE)

You will make every American proud to be an American, and I am very proud today to endorse your candidacy for president.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, before...

CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

RICHARDSON: Si, se puede! Si, se puede!

Now, I just asked Senator Obama if I was going too long. And he said, "No, go a little longer."

So before concluding my remarks, I do want to say that we're blessed to have two great American leaders and Democrats running for president.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, my great affection and admiration for Senator Clinton and President Clinton will never waver. It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and prepare...

(APPLAUSE)

... for the tough fight we will have against John McCain in the fall.

The 1990s were a decade of prosperity and peace because of the competent and enlightened leadership of the Clinton administration. And I was in that administration.

(APPLAUSE)

But it is now time for a new generation of leadership to lead America forward.

(APPLAUSE)

Barack Obama will be a great and historic president who can bring us the change we so desperately need by bringing us together as a nation here at home and with our allies abroad.

And I know that all Democrats and all Americans are going to work tirelessly to get this man elected.

(APPLAUSE)

So it is my distinct honor and privilege to introduce mi buen amigo, the next president of the United States, Barack Obama!

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Bill Richardson...

(APPLAUSE)

... thank you. Thank you.

Thank you, Portland! Thank you. Thank you.

Please, everybody feel free to have a seat. I know you guys have been standing for a while. I am so grateful to be back in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

(APPLAUSE)

I am grateful to all of you for taking the time to be here. What a magnificent crowd. And I am extraordinarily grateful to have the support of one of the great public servants of these United States, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

You know, Bill Richardson has served in so many different capacities, as a member of Congress, as a member of an administration's cabinet, as a governor of one of our most beautiful states. And in each and every task that has been assigned to him, he has done extraordinary work.

He's done the kind of work that you want from your public servants, somebody who's driven not just by raw ambition, not just by an interest in personal aggrandizement. He's been somebody who's been motivated by the desire to make the lives of his constituents and working people a little bit better, and he has been driven by the desire to make America a little bit stronger, and a little bit safer, and a little bit more prosperous.

(APPLAUSE)

He's been a leader on energy security and the desire to free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. And as a congressman and as an energy secretary, and now as a governor, he has taken the lead on the clean energy future that all of us so desperately want.

(APPLAUSE)

And on foreign policy, he understands the importance of restoring diplomacy as a central part of our national security strategy. And he has, by himself, created the kind of diplomatic breakthroughs around the world that have been so lacking over the last seven years.

He understands the need for us to reach out, not just to leaders we like, but to leaders we don't. And so...

(APPLAUSE)

... not only does he understand it, but he has done it. He has accomplished it. And so, for him to stand before you here today and not just offer his endorsement, but to offer his confidence that I will perform the task of commander-in-chief and president of the United States with the kind of excellence that I know he wants to see in the next president of the United States, I can't be more honored.

And I want everybody to be giving a huge round of applause to Governor Bill Richardson.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to see if this might work because I want to move around a little bit. Can you guys hear me? Is that working?

(APPLAUSE)

All right, you need it a little louder? All right. Volume up a little bit. I just want to make sure I'm not...

(APPLAUSE)

Oh, there's a wireless? Let's see, oh. All right.

Well, listen, Bill and I started running for president about 15 months ago, and I'm sure that he started his candidacy in his home state of New Mexico. I started in the capital of my home state of Illinois, in Springfield, Illinois.

I stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol. This is the building where Abraham Lincoln served for so many years before he went to Washington to serve as president. This is the city where I served for many years in state government before I joined the United States Senate. And I announced this improbable journey to change America.

And I have to say, at the time there were a number of people who asked me, "Why are you running this time? Why are you running so soon? You're a relatively young man; you can afford to wait."

CROWD: No!

OBAMA: And what I've explained to people is I believe in what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now, the fierce urgency of now...

(APPLAUSE)

... the belief that there's such a thing as being too late, and that hour is almost upon us.

This week, we mark the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. We have spent well over half-a-trillion dollars. There are some estimates that, by the time this is over, we will have spent $3 trillion. We have lost thousands of lives; thousands more have been maimed.

And yet we're not more safe and our standing in the world is drastically diminished. Our economy is in a shambles. All across the country, I meet people who have lost their homes or on the verge of losing their homes.

All across this country, I meet people desperate for health care. Maybe they can get health care for their kids, but they can't get it for themselves, or the premiums or the deductibles or the co-payments keep going up and up and up.

All across this country, we see schools that, despite the slogans, are leaving millions of children behind.

(APPLAUSE)

All across this country, you meet people who are working, sometimes two, three jobs, but their wages and their incomes have flat-lined, while their costs of everything from gas at the pump to electricity to a college education keep going up and up and up.

In such circumstances, we cannot afford to wait. We can't wait to fix our schools; we cannot wait to fix our health care system; we cannot wait to bring an end to global warming; we cannot wait to end this war in Iraq.

We cannot wait. The time is now.

(APPLAUSE)

So when I got into this race, I know Bill felt the same thing. What we understood was that the size of our challenges had outstripped the capacity of a broken and divided politics to solve, that the American people were hungry, were desperate for something different, a politics that wasn't based on tearing each other down, but was based on lifting the country up...

(APPLAUSE)

... a politics that wasn't based on spin and P.R. and half-truths and doublespeak, a politics that was based on honesty and straight talk and truthfulness.

But, most of all, when I decided to run, I was betting on you, the American people. Some of you know I now live in Chicago, but I'm not originally from Chicago. I came to Chicago after college because I wanted to work at a grassroots level to help communities in need.

And there were a group of churches on the far south side of Chicago that were dealing with the devastation of steel plants that had closed. And I went and worked with these churches as a community organizer for 3 1/2 years, setting up job training programs for the unemployed, and after-school programs for youth, and economic development for these communities.

(APPLAUSE)

And I always tell people it was the best education I ever had, because it taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they're given a chance.

(APPLAUSE)

It taught me that change doesn't happen from the top-down. It happens from the bottom-up, because the American people stand ready for change.

(APPLAUSE)

I believe that the American people are a decent people and a generous people, willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations. And I was absolutely convinced that if we could just come together -- all of us, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor -- if we could come together to challenge the special interests that have come to dominate Washington, but also to challenge ourselves to be better, to challenge ourselves to be better neighbors and better parents and better citizens, then there would be no problem we could not solve, no destiny we could not fulfill. That was the bet that I was making 15 months ago.

And I am here to report that, after 15 months of crisscrossing the country, after visiting 46 states, after speaking to hundreds of thousands of people, after shaking tens of thousands of hands, after kissing hundreds of babies...

(LAUGHTER)

... after eating hundreds of chicken dinners -- you miss those chicken dinners, Bill? I am here to report that my bet has paid off, that my faith in the American people has been vindicated...

(APPLAUSE)

... because everywhere I go, Americans are standing up. And they say, "We want something new. We want something different. We want to turn the page. We want to write a new chapter in American history."

(APPLAUSE)

So we have been seeing record turnout everywhere we go. People who've never participated, young people coming out in record numbers like never before.

(APPLAUSE)

Those like me, who are young at heart and who have been disaffected from politics for so many years, getting re-engaged, re- involved.

Now, I would like to take credit for all of this, but I have to admit -- I think Bill will acknowledge -- that part of the reason everybody's so excited is, no matter what happens, people will be going into the polling place next November to choose the next president of the United States, and the name "George W. Bush" will not be on the ballot. And that has everybody excited.

(APPLAUSE)

No Bush. The name of my cousin, Dick Cheney, will not be on the ballot.

(LAUGHTER)

Some of you read about this. Cheney and I are distant relations. It hurt me in the polls..

(LAUGHTER)

... but people have been forgiving me lately and been picking things back up.

So that means that the era of Scooter Libby justice and Brownie incompetence, of Katrina and warrantless wiretaps, Karl Rove politics, all of that will finally be over next year.

(APPLAUSE)

But you're not here just because you want to be against something. You're here because you want to be for something.

You know, so much of our politics is based on, "Well, I'm not as bad as that guy," or, "Well, those folks are just terrible." But that doesn't help move the country forward; that doesn't describe the path to create a more perfect union.

That may win elections, it may be good tactics, but it doesn't tell us who we should be and what this country should do, the course we should take. And so what I've spent the last 15 months doing -- and I know Bill agrees with this -- that the greatest privilege of running for president is you're in a conversation with the American people.

And what I hear from the American people is that they've lost trust and they've lost confidence in their government. They've lost trust and confidence in their leaders. They don't feel like they're being heard; they don't feel like anybody's fighting on their behalf, that politics has become a sport.

Because if we were really listening, if we, as leaders, were really listening to the American people, here's what we'd hear: We would hear...

(UNKNOWN): We love you!

OBAMA: I love you back.

(APPLAUSE)

We'd hear the voice of the young woman that I met when I was campaigning who is going to school full-time, has a sick sister with cerebral palsy, so she's got to work, too. So she goes to work, takes care of her sister, goes to bed at 10:00, wakes up at 1 o'clock in the morning to go work the night shift at Federal Express taking packages out to an airplane.

She gets three hours of sleep every night, and she's determined to make a better life for herself, but she doesn't understand how it is that Washington is not doing more to help her pay her student loans or making sure that her sister has the health care she deserves.

She's not looking for a handout. She wants to work for her American dream, but she doesn't feel like anybody's listening.

(APPLAUSE)

If Washington was paying attention, then they'd know the story of a woman that I met in Oakland named Pauline Beck, who is a homecare worker. I went with her, because the Service Employees International Union had organized every -- had organized, is SEIU in the house? I see AFSCME in the house.

Thank you. I appreciate you guys, representing people who need representation.

SEIU had organized each of us to spend a day walking in the shoes of one of their members. And so I went -- we had Ms. Beck. We woke up early in the morning, went over to the home of an 86-year-old amputee. And I did that day the work she does every single day, helping him out of his bed into a wheelchair, helping him get dressed, helping him get clean, making the bed, making the house, making breakfast, hard work, back-breaking work.

Pauline Beck, she's 61 years old. She does this every single day. She can't take a day off because she can't afford it, so she works every single day.

In talking to her, she was glad about her capacity to help somebody, help somebody older than her, more frail than her, stay in their home, stay in their community. She wasn't looking for a handout, but what she was looking for was somebody who might fight for her so she could have decent health care.

END

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