Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:18 PM
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: Thank you, everybody.
Listen, there are a couple of "thank yous" I've got to say.
First of all -- first of all, it's good to be back in the Midwest. I am glad to see everybody here in Evansville.
I want to thank -- I want to thank...
(UNKNOWN): We love you, Obama!
OBAMA: I love you back.
I want to thank John Mellencamp and his wonderful wife, Elaine, for taking the time to be here today, driving up from Bloomington. Give them a big round of applause.
And I want to thank your wonderful mayor, Jonathan Weinzapfel, and his lovely wife, Patricia, who have been just so gracious to both Michelle and myself.
I have repeatedly said upon first meeting the mayor that this guy's going somewhere and mainly because, like me, he married up, and his wife is such an asset, but I'm so grateful for his support. It means so much. And Evansville, obviously, is going to be so important to this upcoming election.
Well, I want to thank all of you who are here tonight, but I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Clinton on her victory this evening, and I want to thank -- I want to thank -- no, no, she ran a terrific race. I want to thank the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who stood with our campaign today.
You know, there were a lot of folks who didn't think we could make this a race when it started. They thought we were going to be blown out. But we worked hard, and we traveled across the state to big cities and small towns, to factories and VFW halls.
And now, six weeks later, we closed the gap. We rallied people of every age and race and background to the cause.
And whether they were inspired for the first time or for the first time in a long time, we registered a record number of voters. And it is those new voters who will lead our party to victory in November.
These Americans cast their ballots for the same reason you came here tonight, for the same reason that millions of Americans have gone door-to-door and given whatever small amounts they can to this campaign, for the same reason that we began this journey, just a few hundred miles from this spot, on a cold February morning in Springfield: because we believe that the challenges we face are bigger than the smallness of our politics, and we know that this election is our chance to change it.
After 14 long months, it's easy to forget -- after 14 long months, it's easy to forget what this campaign's about from time to time, to lose sight of the fierce urgency of this moment.
It's easy to get caught up in the distractions and the silliness and the tit-for-tat that consumes our politics, the bickering that none of us are entirely immune to, and it trivializes the profound issues: two wars, an economy in recession, a planet in peril, issues that confront our nation.
That kind of politics is not why we are here tonight. It's not why I'm here, and it's not why you're here. We...
We are here because of the more than 100 workers in Logansport, Indiana, who just found out that their company has decided to move its entire factory to Taiwan.
We're here because of the young man I met in Youngsville, North Carolina, who almost lost his home because he has three children with cystic fibrosis and couldn't pay their medical bills, who still doesn't have health insurance for himself or his wife, and lives in fear that a single illness could cost them everything.
We're here because there are families all across this country who are sitting around the kitchen table right now trying to figure out how they're going to pay their insurance premiums, and their kid's tuition, and still make the mortgage, so that they're not the next ones in the neighborhood to put a "For Sale" sign in their front yard...
... people who will lay awake tonight wondering if next week's paycheck will cover next month's bills.
We're not here to talk about change for change's sake, but because our families and our communities and our country desperately need it.
We are here because we can't afford to keep doing what we've been doing for another four years.
We can't afford to play the same Washington games with the same Washington players and expect a different result. Not this time. Not now. We already know what we're getting out of the other party's nominee. John McCain has offered this country a lifetime of service, and we respect that. But what he's not offering is any meaningful change from the policies of George W. Bush.
John McCain believes that George Bush's Iraq policy is a success, so he's offering four more years of a war with no exit strategy, a war that's sending our troops on their third tour, and their fourth tour, and their fifth tour of duty, a war that's cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives, thousands more grievously injured, a war that has not made us more safe, but has distracted us from the task at hand in Afghanistan...
... a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.
John McCain said that -- John McCain said that George Bush's economic policies have led to, and I quote, "great progress" over the last seven years. And so he's promising four more years of tax cuts for CEOs and corporations who didn't need them and weren't asking for them, tax cuts that he once voted against because he said they offended his conscience.
Well, they may have stopped offending John McCain's conscience somewhere along the road to the White House, but George Bush's economic policies still offend my conscience, and they still offend yours.
Because I don't think that the 232,000 Americans who've lost their jobs this year are seeing great progress the way John McCain has seen it. I don't think the millions of Americans losing their homes have seen that progress; I don't think the families without health care and the workers without their pensions have seen that progress.
And if we continue down the same reckless path, I don't think the future generations who will be saddled with debt will see these years of progress.
We already know John McCain offers more of the same, so the question is not whether the other party will bring about change to Washington. We know they won't. The question is: Will we? That's the question we face in this election.
Because -- because...
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
OBAMA: Because the truth is the challenges we face are not just the fault of one man or one party. I mean, think about it. How many years, how many decades have we been talking about solving our health care crisis? How many presidents have promised to end our dependence on foreign oil?
How many jobs have gone overseas in the '70s, and the '80s, and the '90s, and we still haven't done anything about it? And we know why. In every election, politicians come to your cities and your towns, and they tell you what you want to hear, and they make big promises, and they lay out all these plans and policies.
But then they go back to Washington when the campaign's over. Lobbyists spend millions of dollars to get their way. The status quo sets in. And instead of fighting for health care or jobs, Washington ends up fights over the latest distraction of the week.
It happens year after year after year after year, and this is our chance to say, "Not this year."
This is our chance to say, "Not this time."
We have a choice in this election. We can be a party that says there's no problem with taking money from Washington lobbyists, from oil lobbyists and drug lobbyists and insurance lobbyists.
We can pretend that they represent real Americans and look the other way when they use their money and influence to stop us from reforming health care or investing in renewal energy for yet another four years.
Or this time we can recognize that you can't be the champion of working Americans if you're funded by lobbyists who drown out their voices.
We can do what we've done in this campaign and say we won't take a dime of their money. We can do what I did in Illinois and in Washington and bring both parties together to rein in their power so we can take our government back. That's the choice we have in this election.
We can be a party that thinks the only way to look tough on national security is to talk and act and vote like George Bush and John McCain. We can use fear as a tactic, the threat of terrorism to scare up votes.
Or we can decide that real strength is asking the tough questions before we send our troops in to fight.
(APPLAUSE) We can see the threats we face for what they are: a call to rally all Americans and all the world against the common challenges of the 21st century, terrorism and nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease.
That's what it takes to keep us safe in this world. That's the real legacy of Roosevelt and Kennedy and Truman. That's why I'm running for president of the United States of America, to restore that legacy.
We can be a party that says and does whatever it takes to win the next election. We can calculate and poll-test our positions, tell everyone exactly what they want to hear.
Or we can be the party that doesn't just focus on how to win, but why we should. We can tell everyone...
We can tell everyone what they need to hear about the challenges we face. We can seek to regain not just an office, but the trust of the American people, that their leaders in Washington will tell them the truth. That's the choice in this election.
We can be a party of those who only think like we do and only agree with all our positions. We can continue to slice and dice this country into red states and blue states. We can exploit the divisions that exist in our country for pure political gain.
Or this time we can build on the movement we started in this campaign, a movement that's united Democrats, independents, Republicans, young, old, rich, poor, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, because one thing I know, from traveling 46 states this campaign season, is that we are not as divided as our politics suggest.
We may have different stories, we may have different backgrounds, but we hold common hopes for the future of this country that we love.
In the end, this election is still our best chance to solve the problems we've been talking about for decades, as one nation, as one people. Fourteen months later, that is still what this election is about: millions of Americans who believe we can do better, that we must do better, that that is what's put us in the position to bring about real change.
And now it's up to you, Evansville. Now it's up to you, Indiana. You can decide...
You can decide whether we're going to travel the same worn path or whether we will chart a new course that offers real hope for the future. During the course of this campaign, we've all learned what my wife reminds me all the time, that I'm not a perfect man. I will not be a perfect president.
And so, while I will always listen to you and be honest with you and fight for you every single day for the next four or eight years...
... I will also...
I will also, should I have the opportunity to serve as your president, ask you to be a part of the change that we need, because in my two decades of public service in this country, I have seen time and time again that real change doesn't begin in the halls of Washington, but on the streets of America.
It doesn't happen from the top down, but it happens from the bottom up.
I also know that real change has never been easy, and it won't be easy this time either. The status quo in Washington will fight. They will fight harder than ever to divide us and distract us with ads and attacks from now until November.
But don't ever forget that you have the power to change this country.
You can make this election about how we're going to help. You can make this election about how we're going to help those workers in Logansport, how we're going to retrain them and educate them, and make our workforce competitive in a global economy.
You can make this election about how we're going to make health care affordable for that family in North Carolina, how we're going to help those families sitting around the kitchen table tonight pay their bills and stay in their homes.
You can make this election about how we plan to leave our children, all our children, a planet that's safer and a world that still sees America the same way my father saw it from across the ocean, as a beacon of all that is good and all that is possible for all of mankind.
Now is our turn to follow in the footsteps of all those generations who sacrificed and struggled and faced down the greatest odds to perfect our improbable union.
And if we're willing to do what they did, if we're willing to shed our cynicism and our doubts and our fears, if we're willing to believe in what's possible again, then I believe we won't just win this primary election, we won't just win here in Indiana, we won't just win this election in November, we will change this country, we will change the world, we will keep this country's promise alive in the 21st century.
That's our task; that's our job. Let's get to work.
Thank you. May God bless you. God bless the United States of America.