Final Primary Night
Presumptive Democratic Nominee Speech
St. Paul, Minnesota
June 3, 2008
after fifty-four hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally
come to an end.
months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of
the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles
have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because
of what you said – because you decided that change must come
to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different
than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts
or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations,
tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning
of another – a journey that will bring a new and better day
to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will
be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
to thank every American who stood with us over the course of this
campaign – through the good days and the bad; from the snows
of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of Sioux Falls. And tonight I also
want to thank the men and woman who took this journey with me as
fellow candidates for President.
this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our
party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals
ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them
as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants,
and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly
to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and
leaders that America will turn to for years to come.
is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further
on this journey than anyone else. Senator Hillary Clinton has made
history in this campaign not just because she's a woman who has
done what no woman has done before, but because she's a leader who
inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and
her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.
certainly had our differences over the last sixteen months. But
as someone who's shared a stage with her many times, I can tell
you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning – even
in the face of tough odds – is exactly what sent her and Bill
Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years
ago; what sent her to work at the Children's Defense Fund and made
her fight for health care as First Lady; what led her to the United
States Senate and fueled her barrier-breaking campaign for the presidency
– an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans,
no matter how difficult the fight may be. And you can rest assured
that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in
this country, she will be central to that victory. When we transform
our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will
be because she worked to help make it happen. Our party and our
country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate
for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and
more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are
millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first
time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that
this election isn't just about the party in charge of Washington,
it's about the need to change Washington. There are young people,
and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have
voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.
of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at
the end of the day, we aren't the reason you came out and waited
in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard.
You didn't do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else.
You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment –
a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford
to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better
future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who
dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work
together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for
just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St.
Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate
John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor
that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he
chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal;
they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.
while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence
from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark
of his presidential campaign.
not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five
percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.
not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies
that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers,
or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college –
policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American
family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and
left our children with a mountain of debt.
it's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that
asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing
of Iraqi politicians – a policy where all we look for are
reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month
on a war that isn't making the American people any safer.
I'll say this – there are many words to describe John McCain's
attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan
and new. But change is not one of them.
is a foreign policy that doesn't begin and end with a war that should've
never been authorized and never been waged. I won't stand here and
pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's
not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next
hundred years – especially at a time when our military is
overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat
to America is being ignored.
must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting
in - but start leaving we must. It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility
for their future. It's time to rebuild our military and give our
veterans the care they need and the benefits they deserve when they
come home. It's time to refocus our efforts on al Qaeda's leadership
and Afghanistan, and rally the world against the common threats
of the 21st century – terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate
change and poverty; genocide and disease. That's what change is.
is realizing that meeting today's threats requires not just our
firepower, but the power of our diplomacy – tough, direct
diplomacy where the President of the United States isn't afraid
to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we
stand for. We must once again have the courage and conviction to
lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman,
and Kennedy. That's what the American people want. That's what change
is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work
and workers who created it. It's understanding that the struggles
facing working families can't be solved by spending billions of
dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs,
but by giving a the middle-class a tax break, and investing in our
crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and
improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and
innovation. It's understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared
prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was
McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the
last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to
the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy
– cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota
– he'd understand the kind of change that people are looking
if he went to Iowa and met the student 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, he'd understand that she can't afford four
more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy
and wealthy. She needs us to pass health care plan that guarantees
insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums
for every family who needs it. That's the change we need.
if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but
can't even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one,
he'd understand that we can't afford four more years of our addiction
to oil from dictators. That man needs us to pass an energy policy
that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations
pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits
in a clean energy future – an energy policy that will create
millions of new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. That's
the change we need.
maybe if he spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or
St. Paul or where he spoke tonight in New Orleans, he'd understand
that we can't afford to leave the money behind for No Child Left
Behind; that we owe it to our children to invest in early childhood
education; to recruit an army of new teachers and give them better
pay and more support; to finally decide that in this global economy,
the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege
for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American. That's
the change we need in America. That's why I'm running for President.
other side will come here in September and offer a very different
set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward
to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don't
deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo,
and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party
is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism
as a bludgeon – that sees our opponents not as competitors
to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves
Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always
what the good Senator from Arizona said tonight, I have seen people
of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during
my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together
myself. I've walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South
Side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white, and Latino
fought together for good jobs and good schools. I've sat across
the table from law enforcement and civil rights advocates to reform
a criminal justice system that sent thirteen innocent people to
death row. And I've worked with friends in the other party to provide
more children with health insurance and more working families with
a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that
the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent;
and to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often
set the agenda in Washington.
our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because
we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false
divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering
and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous,
compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes.
And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental
goodness to make this country great again.
it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia
hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who
gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure
of devotion to save that same union.
it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and
liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to
untold opportunity and prosperity.
it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women
who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge
for freedom's cause.
it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges
and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that's
better, and kinder, and more just.
so it must be for us.
this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page
on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new
ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction
for the country we love.
journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge
with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But
I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American
people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for
it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations
from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that
this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and
good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the
oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the
moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our
image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment –
this was the time – when we came together to remake this great
nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our
highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the
United States of America.