Obama Delivers Victory Speech in North Carolina
Tuesday, May 6, 2008; 9:57 PM
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-ILL.): Thank you, North Carolina.
Thank you so much. Thank you very much.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
OBAMA: I love you back. I truly do.
I want to thank Kim Winns (ph) for that wonderful introduction, to the outstanding members of the North Carolina congressional delegation who supported me through thick and thin, the dean, Representative David Price, and his wife, Lisa...
... Congressman Mel Watt, Congressman G.K. Butterfield, thank you so much.
To James Oblinger, chancellor of North Carolina State University...
... Wolfpack -- to the state, county and local elected officials in attendance, to the North Carolina Democratic Party, and most of all to my North Carolina volunteers who worked so hard...
... this is your victory.
You know, there are those who were saying that North Carolina would be a game-changer in this election. But today what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C.
I want to start by congratulating Senator Clinton on what appears to be her victory in the great state of Indiana. I want to thank all the people -- I want to thank all the wonderful people of Indiana who worked so hard on our behalf.
The people in Indiana could not be finer. They worked tirelessly, and I will always be grateful to them.
I want to thank, of course, the people of North Carolina.
I want to thank them for giving us a victory in a big state...
... in a swing state, in a state where we will compete to win if I am the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
You know, when this campaign began, Washington didn't give us too much of a chance. But because you came out in the bitter cold, and knocked on doors, and enlisted your friends and neighbors in this cause, because you stood up to the cynics and the doubters and the naysayers, when we were up and when we were down, because you still believe that this is our moment and our time to change America, tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
More importantly, because of you, we've seen that it's possible to overcome the politics of division and the politics of distraction, that it's possible to overcome the same, old negative attacks that are always about scoring points and never about solving our problems.
We've seen that the American people aren't looking for more spin. They're looking for honest answers about the challenges we face. That's what you've accomplished in this campaign, and that's how together we intend to change this country.
This has been one of the longest, most closely fought contests in American history. And that's partly because we have such a formidable opponent in Senator Hillary Clinton.
Tonight, many of the pundits have suggested that this party is inalterably divided, that Senator Clinton's supporters will not support me and that my supporters would not support her. Well, I am here tonight to tell you that I don't believe it.
Yes, yes, there have been bruised feelings on both sides. Yes, each side desperately wants their candidate to win. But ultimately this race is not about Hillary Clinton; it's not about Barack Obama; it's not about John McCain.
This election is about you, the American people.
It's about whether we will have a president and a party that can lead us toward a brighter future.
This primary season may not be over, but when it is we will have to remember who we are as Democrats, that we are the party of Jefferson and Jackson, of Roosevelt and Kennedy, and that we are at our best when we lead with principle, when we lead with conviction, when we summon an entire nation to a common purpose and a higher purpose.
This fall, we intend to march forward as one Democratic Party, united by a common vision for this country, because we all agree that at this defining moment in our history, a moment when we are facing two wars, an economy in turmoil, a planet in peril, a dream that feels like it's slipping away for too many Americans, we can't afford to give John McCain the chance to serve out George Bush's third term.
We need change in America. And that's why we will be united in November.
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
OBAMA: The woman I met in Indiana who had just lost her job, lost her pension, lost her health insurance, when the plant where she'd worked her entire life closed down, she can't afford four more years of tax breaks for corporations like the one that shipped her job overseas. She needs us to give tax breaks to companies that create good jobs right here in the United States of America.
She can't afford four more years of tax breaks for CEOs like the one who walked away from her company with a multimillion-dollar bonus. She needs middle-class tax relief of the sort I've proposed, relief that will help her pay the skyrocketing price of groceries, and gas, and college tuition.
And that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.
The college student I met in Iowa who works the night shift after a full day of classes, still can't pay the medical bills for a sister who's ill, she can't afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and the wealthy, that allows insurance companies to discriminate and deny coverage to those Americans who need it most.
She needs us to stand up to those insurance companies and pass a plan that lowers every family's premiums and gives every uninsured American the same kind of coverage that members of Congress gives themselves. That's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.
The mother in Wisconsin who gave me a bracelet inscribed with the name of the son she lost in Iraq, the families who pray for their loved ones to come home, the heroes on a third and fourth and fifth tour of duty, they can't afford four more years of a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.
They can't afford four more years of our veterans returning to broken-down barracks and substandard care.
And they don't want to see homeless veterans on the streets. They don't want to see veterans waiting years to get disability payments or having to travel for hours and miles just to get treatment.
They need us to end the war that isn't making us safer. They need us to treat them with the care and respect they deserve. That's why I'm running for president.
The man I met in Pennsylvania who lost his job but can't even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he can't afford four more years of an energy policy written by the oil companies and for the oil companies, a policy that's not only keeping gas at record prices, but funding both sides of the war on terror and destroying our planet.
He doesn't need four more years of Washington policies that sound good, but don't solve the problem. He needs us to take a permanent holiday from our addiction from oil by making the automakers raise their fuel standards, corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future.
That's the change we need. That's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.
The people that I've met in small towns and big cities across this country understand that government can't solve all our problems, and we don't expect it to. We believe in hard work; we believe in personal responsibility and self-reliance.
But we also believe that we have a larger responsibility to one another as Americans, that America is a place, that America is the place where you can make it if you try, that no matter how much money you start with or where you come from or who your parents are, opportunity is yours if you're willing to reach for it and work for it.
It's the idea that, while there are few guarantees in life, you should be able to count on a job that pays the bills, health care for when you need it, a pension when you retire, an education for your children that will allow them to fulfill their God-given potential, that's the America we believe in. That's the America that we know.
This is the country that gave my grandfather a chance to go to college on the G.I. Bill when he came home from World War II, a country that gave him and my grandmother the chance to buy their first home with a loan from the FHA.
This is the country that made it possible for my mother, a single parent who had to go on food stamps at one point, to send my sister and me to the best schools in the country on scholarships.
This is the country that allowed my father-in-law, a shift worker, a city worker at a water filtration plant in Chicago, to provide for his wife and two children on a single salary.
Now, this is a man who was diagnosed at the age of 30 with multiple sclerosis, who relied on a walker to get himself to work, and yet every day he went, and he labored, and he sent my wife and her brother to one of the best colleges in the nation.
And when he talked about his job, he expressed that it was important not just because it gave him a paycheck, but because it described his dignity, his self-worth, his self-respect. It was an America that didn't just reward wealth, but it rewarded work and the workers who created it.
That's the America I love. That's the America you love. That's the America that we are fighting for in this election.
Somewhere along the line, between all the bickering and the influence-peddling and the game-playing of the last few decades, Washington and Wall Street have lost touch with these core values, these American values.
And while I honor John McCain's service to his country, his ideas for America are out of touch with these core values. His plans for the future, of continuing a war that has not made us safer, of continuing George Bush's economic policies that he claims have made great progress, these are nothing more than the failed policies of the past.
His plan to win in November appears to come from the very same playbook that his side has used time after time in election after election.
Yes, we know what's coming. I'm not naive. We've already seen it, the same names and labels they always pin on everyone who doesn't agree with all their ideas, the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives, by pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy, in the hopes that the media will play along.
The attempts to play on our fears and exploit our differences, to turn us against each other for political gain, to slice and dice this country into red states and blue states, blue collar and white collar, white, black, brown, young, old, rich, poor...
... this is the race we expect, no matter whether it's myself or Senator Clinton who is the nominee. The question then is not what kind of campaign they will run; it's what kind of campaign we will run.
It's what we will do to make this year different. You see, I didn't get into this race thinking that I could avoid this kind of politics, but I am running for president because this is the time to end it.
We will end it -- we will end it this time not because I'm perfect. I think we know at this phase of the campaign that I am not.
We will end it not by duplicating the same tactics and the same strategies as the other side, because that will lead us down the same path of polarization and of gridlock.
We will end it by telling the truth.
We will end it by telling the truth forcefully, repeatedly, confidently, and by trusting that the American people will embrace the need for change, even if it's coming from an imperfect messenger, because that's how we've -- that's -- because that's how we've always changed this country, not from the top down, but from the bottom up, when you, the American people, decide that the stakes are too high and the challenges are too great.
The other side can label and name-call all they want, but I trust the American people to recognize that it is not surrender to end the war in Iraq so that we can rebuild our military and go after Al Qaida's leaders.
I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.
I trust the American people to realize that, while we don't need big government, we do need a government that stands up for families who are being tricked out of their homes by Wall Street predators, a government who stands up for the middle class by giving them a tax break, a government that ensures that no American will ever lose their life savings just because their child gets sick.
Security and opportunity, compassion and prosperity aren't liberal values. They are not conservative values. They are American values, and that is what we are fighting for in this election.
Most of all, I trust the American people's desire to no longer be defined by differences, because no matter where I've been in this country, whether it was in the cornfields of Iowa or the textile mills of the Carolinas, the streets of San Antonio or the foothills of Georgia, I've found that, while we may have different stories, we hold common hopes.
We may not look the same or come from the same place, but we want to move in the same direction towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren. That's why I'm in this race.
I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted at this critical moment in history.
I believe in our ability to perfect this nation, because it's the only reason I'm standing here today. I know the promise of America, because I've lived it. Michelle has lived it; you have lived it.
It is the light of opportunity that led my father across an ocean. It's the founding ideals that the flag draped over my father's coffin stand for. It is life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It's the simple truth I learned all those years ago when I worked in the shadow of all those shuttered steel mills on the south side of the Chicago, that, in this country, justice can be won against the greatest odds, hope can find its way back from the darkest of corners.
And when we are told that we cannot bring about the change that we seek, we answer with one voice: Yes, we can.
So, North Carolina and America, don't ever forget that this election is not about me or any candidate. Don't ever forget that this campaign is about you. It's about your hopes; it's about your dreams; it's about your struggles; it's about your aspirations; it's about securing your portion of the American dream.
Don't ever forget that we have a choice in this country, that we can choose not to be divided, that we can choose not to be afraid, that we can still choose this moment to finally come together and solve the problems we've talked about all those other years and all those other elections.
This time can be different than all the rest. This time we can face down those who say our road is too long, that our climb is too steep, that we can no longer achieve the change that we seek.
This is our time to answer the call that so many generations of Americans have answered before, by insisting that, by hard work and by sacrifice, the American dream will endure.
Thank you. Thank you, North Carolina.
May God bless you and the United States of America. Thank you. Thank you.