North Carolina Primary Night
May 6, 2008
know, some 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, DC.
to start by congratulating Senator Clinton on her victory in the
state of Indiana. And I want to thank the people of North Carolina
for giving us a victory in a big state, a swing state, and a state
where we will compete to win if I am the Democratic nominee for
President of the United States.
this campaign began, Washington didn't give us 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 nay-sayers when
we were up and when we were down; because you still believe that
this is our moment, and our time, for change – tonight we
stand less than two hundred delegates away from securing the Democratic
nomination for President of the United States.
importantly, because of you, we have seen that it's possible to
overcome the politics of division and 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 or more gimmicks,
but honest answers about the challenges we face. That's what you've
accomplished in this campaign, and that's how we'll change this
has been one of the longest, most closely fought contests in 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 will not
I'm here tonight to tell you that I don't believe it. 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 or Barack Obama or John McCain. This election is
about you – the American people – and whether we will
have a president and a party that can lead us toward a brighter
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 around a common purpose –
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 history – a moment when
we're facing two wars, an economy in turmoil, a planet in peril
– we can't afford to give John McCain the chance to serve
out George Bush's third term. We need change in America.
woman I met in Indiana who just lost her job, and her pension, and
her insurance when the plant where she worked at 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 here
in America. She can't afford four more years of tax breaks for CEOs
like the one who walked away from her company with a multi-million
dollar bonus. She needs middle-class tax relief that will help her
pay the skyrocketing price of groceries, and gas, and college tuition.
That's why I'm running for President.
college student I met in Iowa who works the night shift after a
full day of class and 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
give themselves. That's why I'm running for President.
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 their third and fourth and fifth
tour of duty – they can't afford four more years of a war
that should've never been authorized and never been waged. They
can't afford four more years of our veterans returning to broken-down
barracks and substandard care. They need us to end a 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.
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 in the process. 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 oil addiction
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. And that's
why I'm running for President.
people 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.
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 for 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 I know.
is the country that gave my grandfather a chance to go to college
on the GI 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 government.
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.
is the country that allowed my father-in-law – a city worker
at a South Side water filtration plant – to provide for his
wife and two children on a single salary. This is a man who was
diagnosed at age thirty 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. It was a job that didn't just give
him a paycheck, but a sense of dignity and self-worth. It was an
America that didn't just reward wealth, but the work and the workers
who created it.
along the way, 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 values. And while I honor John
McCain's service to his country, his ideas for America are out of
touch with these values. His plans for the future are nothing more
than the failed policies of the past. And 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.
we know what's coming. We've seen it already. 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 hope that the media will play along. The attempts to play
on our fears and exploit our differences to turn us against each
other for pure political gain – to slice and dice this country
into Red States and Blue States; blue-collar and white-collar; white
and black, and brown.
is what they will do – no matter which one of us is the nominee.
The question, then, is not what kind of campaign they'll run, it's
what kind of campaign we will run. It's what we will do to make
this year different. I didn't get into race thinking that I could
avoid this kind of politics, but I am running for President because
this is the time to end it.
will end it this time not because I'm perfect – I think by
now this campaign has reminded all of us of that. We will end it
not by duplicating the same tactics and the same strategies as the
other side, because that will just lead us down the same path of
polarization and gridlock.
will end it by telling the truth – forcefully, repeatedly,
confidently – and by trusting that the American people will
embrace the need for change.
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.
other side can label and name-call all they want, but I trust the
American people to recognize that it's not surrender to end the
war in Iraq so that we can rebuild our military and go after al
Qaeda's leaders. I trust the American people to understand that
it's not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but
our enemies – like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman
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
that 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 or conservative
values – they're American values.
of all, I trust the American people's desire to no longer be defined
by our differences. Because no matter where I've been in this country
– whether it was the corn fields 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.
why I'm in this race. I love this country too much to see it divided
and distracted at this moment in history. I believe in our ability
to perfect this union because it's the only reason I'm standing
here today. And I know the promise of America because I have lived
is the light of opportunity that led my father across an ocean.
is the founding ideals that the flag draped over my grandfather's
coffin stands for – it is life, and liberty, and the pursuit
the simple truth I learned all those years ago when I worked in
the shadows of a shuttered steel mill on the South Side of Chicago
– that in this country, justice can be won against the greatest
of odds; hope can find its way back to 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.
don't ever forget that this election is not about me, or any candidate.
Don't ever forget that this campaign is about you – about
your hopes, about your dreams, about your struggles, about securing
your portion of the American Dream.
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 in all
those other elections.
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, and may God Bless the
United States of America.