Before I begin, I just want to send my condolences
to the victims of the storms that hit Tennessee and Arkansas. They
are in our thoughts and in our prayers.
Well, the polls are just closing in California and
the votes are still being counted in cities and towns across the
country. But there is one thing on this February night that we do
not need the final results to know - our time has come, our movement
is real, and change is coming to America.
Only a few hundred miles from here, almost one year
ago to the day, we stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol to
reaffirm a truth that was spoken there so many generations ago -
that a house divided cannot stand; that we are more than a collection
of Red States and Blue States; we are, and always will be, the United
States of America.
What began as a whisper in Springfield soon carried
across the corn fields of Iowa, where farmers and factory workers;
students and seniors stood up in numbers we've never seen. They
stood up to say that maybe this year, we don't have to settle for
a politics where scoring points is more important than solving problems.
This time we can finally do something about health care we can't
afford or mortgages we can't pay. This time can be different.
Their voices echoed from the hills of New Hampshire
to the deserts of Nevada, where teachers and cooks and kitchen workers
stood up to say that maybe Washington doesn't have to be run by
lobbyists anymore. They reached the coast of South Carolina when
people said that maybe we don't have to be divided by race and region
and gender; that crumbling schools are stealing the future of black
children and white children; that we can come together and build
an America that gives every child, everywhere the opportunity to
live their dreams. This time can be different.
And today, on this Tuesday in February, in states
North and South, East and West, what began as a whisper in Springfield
has swelled to a chorus of millions calling for change. A chorus
that cannot be ignored. That cannot be deterred. This time can be
different because this campaign for the presidency is different.
It's different not because of me, but because of
you. Because you are tired of being disappointed and tired of being
let down. You're tired of hearing promises made and plans proposed
in the heat of a campaign only to have nothing change when everyone
goes back to Washington. Because the lobbyists just write another
check. Or because politicians start worrying about how they'll win
the next election instead of why they should. Or because they focus
on who's up and who's down instead of who matters.
And while Washington is consumed with the same drama
and division and distraction, another family puts up a For Sale
sign in the front yard. Another factory shuts its doors. Another
soldier waves goodbye as he leaves on another tour of duty in a
war that should've never been authorized and never been waged. It
goes on and on and on.
But in this election - at this moment - you are
standing up all across this country to say, not this time. Not this
year. The stakes are too high and the challenges too great to play
the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expect
a different result. This time must be different.
Now, this isn't about me and it's not about Senator
Clinton. As I've said before, she was a friend before this campaign
and she'll be a friend after it's over. I respect her as a colleague,
and I congratulate her on her victories tonight.
But this fall we owe the American people a real
choice. It's change versus more of the same. It's the future versus
It's a choice between going into this election with
Republicans and Independents already united against us, or going
against their nominee with a campaign that has united Americans
of all parties around a common purpose.
It's a choice between having a debate with the other
party about who has the most experience in Washington, or having
one about who's most likely to change Washington. Because that's
a debate we can win.
It's a choice between a candidate who's taken more
money from Washington lobbyists than either Republican in this race,
and a campaign that hasn't taken a dime of their money because we've
been funded by you.
And if I am your nominee, my opponent will not be
able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George
Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; or that I support the Bush-Cheney
policy of not talking to leaders we don't like. And he will not
be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether
or not it's ok for America to use torture - because it is never
ok. That is the choice in this election.
The Republicans running for President have already
tied themselves to the past. They speak of a hundred year war in
Iraq and billions more on tax breaks for the wealthiest few who
don't need them and didn't ask for them - tax breaks that mortgage
our children's future on a mountain of debt at a time when there
are families who can't pay their medical bills and students who
can't pay their tuition.
They are running on the politics of yesterday, and
that is why our party must be the party of tomorrow. And that is
the party I will lead as President.
I'll be the President who ends the tax breaks to
companies that ship our jobs overseas and start putting them in
the pockets of working Americans who deserve it. And struggling
homeowners. And seniors who should retire with dignity and respect.
I'll be the President who finally brings Democrats
and Republicans together to make health care affordable and available
for every single American. We will put a college education within
reach of anyone who wants to go, and instead of just talking about
how great our teachers are, we will reward them for their greatness,
with more pay and better support. And we will harnesses the ingenuity
of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation
from the tyranny of oil once and for all.
And when I am President, we will put an end to a
politics that uses 9/11 as a way to scare up votes, and start seeing
it as a challenge that should unite America and the world against
the common threats of the twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear
weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.
We can do this. It will not be easy. It will require
struggle and sacrifice. There will setbacks and we will make mistakes.
And that is why we need all the help we can get. So tonight I want
to speak directly to all those Americans who have yet to join this
movement but still hunger for change - we need you. We need you
to stand with us, and work with us, and help us prove that together,
ordinary people can still do extraordinary things.
I am blessed to be standing in the city where my
own extraordinary journey began. A few miles from here, in the shadow
of a shuttered steel plant, is where I learned what it takes to
make change happen.
I was a young organizer then, intent on fighting
joblessness and poverty on the South Side, and I still remember
one of the very first meetings I put together. We had worked on
it for days, but no one showed up. Our volunteers felt so defeated,
they wanted to quit. And to be honest, so did I.
But at that moment, I looked outside and saw some
young boys tossing stones at a boarded-up apartment building across
the street. They were like boys in so many cities across the country
- boys without prospects, without guidance, without hope. And I
turned to the volunteers, and I asked them, "Before you quit,
I want you to answer one question. What will happen to those boys?"
And the volunteers looked out that window, and they decided that
night to keep going - to keep organizing, keep fighting for better
schools, and better jobs, and better health care. And so did I.
And slowly, but surely, in the weeks and months to come, the community
began to change.
You see, the challenges we face will not be solved
with one meeting in one night. Change will not come if we wait for
some other person or some other time.
We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the
change that we seek. We are the hope of those boys who have little;
who've been told that they cannot have what they dream; that they
cannot be what they imagine.
Yes they can.
We are the hope of the father who goes to work before
dawn and lies awake with doubts that tell him he cannot give his
children the same opportunities that someone gave him.
Yes he can.
We are the hope of the woman who hears that her
city will not be rebuilt; that she cannot reclaim the life that
was swept away in a terrible storm.
Yes she can.
We are the hope of the future; the answer to the
cynics who tell us our house must stand divided; that we cannot
come together; that we cannot remake this world as it should be.
Because we know what we have seen and what we believe
- that what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that
cannot be ignored; that will not be deterred; that will ring out
across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this
world, and make this time different than all the rest - Yes. We.