July 27th, 2007
01:41 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama: Country will look at itself differently the day I'm inaugurated

(CNN ) – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says the nation will look at itself differently the day he is inaugurated as America’s first black president.

Obama was addressing the National Urban League Convention’s presidential forum in St. Louis when he was asked what he could do to stop racial polarization in the U.S. Holding up his hand like he was taking the oath, the Illinois senator said, “The day I’m inaugurated, the country looks at itself differently. And don’t underestimate that power. Don’t underestimate that transformation.”

He told the crowd that endless high-minded discussions weren’t the answer to the problem. He said, “Here’s what I won’t do, because we do this all the time. I’m not going to set up a commission, and I’m not going to have a conversation, because we set those up with a lot of fanfare and there’s not any follow-up.”

Obama said that, as president, it would be more important to discuss specific issues as they come up “each and every day.”

- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    A good way to stop racial polarization is to do away with organizations like the National Urban league.

    The more we single out, the farther apart we grow.

    July 27, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. bret, atl, ga

    Again, if you'd just adopt some libertarian economics, you'd be a decent enough fellow. Reject your globalist ways, man, come back to the light!

    Otherwise, prepare to be beaten by Ron Paul. 🙂

    July 27, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Percy Goode, Atlanta Georgia

    The more I hear from Obama, the more I don't think he should become president. Not only did he show his inexperience the other night at the debate, but he also offended me as an African American. At least two times during the debate Obama mentioned Ronald Regan. The Regan Adminstration ignoreed African Americans and other minorites during the 80's. For Obama to use the name Reagan for positive examples indicates that Senator Obama may not represent the interest of black America. Obama goes before groups like the NAACP, the Urban League, and the Bloody Sunday Observance and tries to pander towards the audience, but really in truly he isn't for Black America. That's one of the reasons Black leaders have not come out in the masses to support him.

    Now for those of you who say that Obama will not only be president to Black America, but be a president for all of America I agree. However, if Obama identifies with Regan maybe he should be participating in the Republican primaries.

    As far as I am concerned Obama and Justice Clarence Thomas are on the page. I guess Obama likes that Thomas light.

    As I close, I restate my initial observation, the more this guy talks the more I don't want him to be President. Barak Obama inexperienced and unimpressive.

    July 27, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. David, Gilbert Arizona

    And what country does Obama think he's going to be inaugurated president of? It sure won't be the United States. The man has very little to no experience as a leader, which becomes more and more evident with each passing day.

    The United States saw what can happen when they elect a naive president. Carter came into office with lofty goals and high ideals. The reality of politics slapped Carter hard in the face and the country suffered under his lack of experience. The same is very likely to happen with someone like Obama.

    July 27, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Independent Voter, TN

    The country would REALLY look at itself differently if it elected, Kucinich or Gravel. I'm not sure that would be a good thing, though.

    July 27, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. John S. Chicago, Illinois

    Do you really want Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and Don King to back your political nominees? I'm sorry to say that those are the main represenatives for the black culture. Those are the only figures you ever hear about, or see in the news. They are the poorest reps for the black culture out there, yet they dominate the news when offering their backing to a number of hot topics and merely end up embarassing themselves.

    Ronald Regan was referenced in regards to his forgien policy, something he at times actually accelled at, as the article described in making peaceful discussions with hated world rival russia and other places. Nixon went to China when we had zero contact with them and established the beginning of a relationship between a "functioning" communist republic that has "lasted" since. Did Regan and Nixon have huge screw ups? Having a black president would instantly change all race relations in this country merely due to the static shock the populace would receive from a WATERSHED event, one this country despeartedly needs.

    Try to think about Obama in the sense that he is a young visionary, and a bright, and intelligent leader who is not affraid to stir things up, make changes, and begin a shift in national ideology that has been out of date since the Persian Gulf War.

    Go Obama! If you don't win, I'm definitely moving to England! Now THAT'S what I call the lesser of two evils!

    July 27, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. Sandy Dixon, Dallas, TX

    People continue to focus on Mr. Obama's lack or non-existence of leadership. My only question is, does anyone realize that almost every President who has ever been elected (with the exception of those who have been re-elected) has very little leadership abilities. Leadership skills grow and develop the more one is placed in those positions. Even natural born leaders must "fine tune" their skills. Mr. Obama would make a wonderful President because he is a man of honesty, intregrity and of utmost character. His qualities and characteristics are what we need in order to move our country in ONE direction.

    July 27, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. O A Georgia

    I am a 24 year old African American male and I support Obama not so much because he is black, but I truly feel he is the best candidate for the job. I certainly didn't support Al Sharpton when he ran in 2004. My question to African Americans who question whether Obama is black enough is do you think that some other candidate ie. Hilary Clinton is somehow more black than Obama? Do you agree with the notion that Bill Clinton was the first black president? If you do why? Is it because he plays jazz, was a womanizer, smoked pot? Or was it because he did a lot for black people? If it is for some of the first reasons, we need to take a better look inside ourselves and realize that it is the black community perpetuating these destructive stereotypes about ourselves. If it is the latter reason for him being dubbed the first black presdient, we should remember that Kennedy, and LBJ did a lot if not more than Clinton for black people in the 60's. Why aren't they the first black presidents?
    To the poster who said Obama is comparing himself to Reagan and that makes him a republican, I must say that it is a very simplistic view. The reason why Obama invokes Reagan is to call attention to the way Reagan faced down the most powerful enemy that America has had to face since World War II. While Al Quaeda and other terrorists may have the capacity to kill thousands, the Soviet Union had the capacity to kill millions in a nuclear holocaust. Obviously Reagan's approach was successful in that the Soviet Union fell shortly after his term. For Obama, to seek to emulate Reagan in that regard does not mean that he shares Reagan's policies and vision. It does show that he is intelligent and sophisticated enough to recognize that people who you may disagree with have positive qualities. It also is an indication that he is able to compromise, and has a greater ability to foster the political will to champion the policies and vision that he has for America, that I must add would greatly benefit African Americans than what any other candidate has to offer.
    To say he is willing to meet with Dictators is certainly a departure from the foreign policy that America has championed in the past. Clinton is very much "Bush-Cheney light" and I feel this is not an exaggeration in the slightest. Obama would do his best to ensure that America's strength is increased, but not in the way Bush would have it through "shock and awe" and shedding of blood. But rather he would seek to bolster America's strength through diplomacy and as the moral leader of the world.
    I won't begin to address the assertion that Barack Obama and Clarence Thomas are on the same page, because I've already written several pages already. If you would do your research you would find that very little is farther from the truth.

    July 27, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Rod C. Venger, Colorado Springs, CO.

    When will we ever learn that politicians are like animals? They act and speak and promise and respond by instinct, and while on the outside they may appear different, inside they are really all alike. Except for Al-Queda style terrorism, this country is basically facing the exact same issues it was facing 40 years ago...oil, poverty, social issues, war, taxes, corruption and more. The faces of the politicians promising to solve those problems has changed, but the promises are nonetheless still the same, and the solutions are not forthcoming. Obama won't solve them. Hillary won't solve them. Neither will McCain or any of the others. The problems are built right into our system, a system we are unwilling to dismantle. Every four years we are asked to choose from the lesser of the evils presented as choices. Should we then be surprised at the outcome? Politicians, by their very nature, are liars, cheats and thieves – Evil with a ready smile and handshake. Only we can change this, and we must, or all will be lost. It's taken me 50 years to realize that the end is closer than we think. -USAPatriot

    July 27, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. John S. Chicago, Illinois


    That is a problem with American's, we think that people can be groomed to be leaders when in reality they are just regurgitating the thoughts of their mentor. Obama has distinguished himself as a leader throughout his ascention to the top of the Democratic party. Obama IS a leader, and therefor should not have to further prove that he can lead, because history has shown that he can lead with his thoughts, words, and actions, like TRUE LEADERS SHOULD LEAD.

    July 27, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. lavelle

    Posted By Percy Goode, Atlanta Georgia : July 27, 2007 2:05 pm

    Percy percy percy, listen Obama is nothing but for black people. He's also for whites he's for americans period dont make this into a black or white thing because it shouldnt be. The more you listen to him? Look at his agenda for us and then you learn what he has to do. He has to walk the tightest rope out of any presidential candidate! And you know who will be a major factor as far as him winning the presidential nomination...us we see what his agenda is and when you look and research the other candidates they will not make one refrence to our problems in our community! How bout you ask hillaries plan for our crime and drug problems and our black men in jail? Obama has his plan already mapped out the other candidates dont. If this was 1960 every black voter would vote for Obama

    July 27, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Dari Carnes, Ijamsville,Maryland

    I believe our best choice for the future is Senator Barack O'Bama. His responses are well thought out and often do not fit the 'mold' of a 1 minute television response and typical attendant sound bytes. As far as the ongoing charge of his being inexperienced is concerned, I for one, am GLAD that he is supposedly inexperienced in doing the business of running this great country in the same tired way! This "same old, same old" approach to politics, regardless of the party elected, has created the feelings of cynicism, apathy and disenfranchisement witnessed by only 50% of Americans exercising their right to vote. O’Bama’s uncanny assessment of how we have historically gotten to where we are domestically as well as internationally; coupled with his drive to focus on solutions versus the problems and his appeal for unification and not divisiveness are the leadership qualities and values which can revitalize belief for Americans in America, and for America from around the globe.

    July 27, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  13. Caren

    To the young, very young 24 year old. I suggest you do some research and find out what Clinton did for Black America when he was president. I can understand you supporting Obama, you two have a lot in common. You don't know that you don't know and you think it isn't important to know what you don't know. If Obama is what is best for this country then we are in worse shape than I thought. God dosen't need to save the queen He needs to save us if Obama is our best hope.

    July 27, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Percy Goode, Atlanta Georgia

    For those of you that have responded to my earlier post, I recognize and respect your arguement of Mr. Obama's position on minority affairs. However, I am still not persuaded in my opinion that Mr. Obama does not represents Black America. Perhaps I was "silly" to compare him to Clarence Thomas, but I feel as if Mr. Obama has not reached out to the African American massess. Sure, he has told us about drug abuse, high levels of teenage pregancy, crime, and the numbers of Black Americans incarcerated, but he has not expressed any understanding to the conditions that have contributed to these alarming rates.

    I agree with your statements about Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton not representing all of black America. They don't. However, they are to be respected for their efforts of the past, and because of their efforts and others like Dr. King, and particpants in the Civil Rights era Mr. Obama has the opportunity to run.

    Other than Rep. John Lewis, Joseph Lawrey,and few others, I have not seen Obama use any black leaders from the Civil Rights era. He doesn't have any of them listed as advisors or counselors. He says he is a member of the Joshua generation, but before Joshua there was Moses. I understand that 10% of this nation's population can not make you president, but I would appreciate some attention. Before this year, how many times has Mr. Obama attended NAACP conventions, Urban Legaue Conventions, etc. Let me see a paper trail of civil rights. There isn't one, and if there was one, it's been washed away by his non-recogition of African American affairs. He might be more like Regan than I thought.

    I restate my previous position Obama is inexperienced and unimpressive.

    July 27, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. Kevin, NH

    Hillarys on Letterman (Top 5 Reasons Why I am Experienced)

    – The New York times, Mitt Romney and the Clinton News Network(CNN) have endorsed me with their glowing coverage.

    – FOX news finally loves me, proof, Rupert Murdoch held a fundraiser for me.I never knew me and FOX had so many things in common. Like hating Liberalism(uuuugh its a disease)How dare Anderson Cooper ask me if i consider myself a liberal.

    -The Clinton years were soo prosperous with scandals, when we left office, we gave up the house, the senate and the alot of governorships to republicans. Me and Bill love to share.

    -I like making people feel good about themselves by telling them what they want to hear.I’m told its good for their health. Remember the twang i put on infront of black people.

    -I’m the only one who can end the war in Iraq. I should know because i voted for it. And after finally taking 4 years to read the intelligence report and the war not turning out like i wanted ,my experience tells me that what we need now is an exit strategy.

    July 27, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. Jim, Iowa

    Percy Goode, Martin Luther King will be proud of Obama, not because he is black but because he cares about the welfare of our community. He quietly worked as a community organizer in the southside of chicago dealing with raw issues that face our community, from high crime rates, Job training programs for ex offenders ( Do you know the Population of black men in prison tripled during the Clinton Years), affordable housing and so on. Like a wise man once said,Barking dogs like the sharptons never bite, its the quiet ones that do. And Obama will definately change America for the better.

    July 27, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. Doug, Indianapolis, Indiana

    FDR only served in the NY State Senate and as Asst. Sec. of the Navy before becoming President. Lincoln served only one term in Congress and in the Illinois legislature before he was elected. Both Ike and Herbert Hoover never held elected office before being President. Wilson's only elective office was Governor of New Jersey and he was in his first term when elected President. Bush had served only as Governor of Texas (a largely ceremonial office, the Lt. Governor and Texas Speaker of the House have the real constitutional power)for one and half terms before becoming President.

    I concede that these examples can be debated endlessly; however, this Obama fan doesn't buy the criticism that he's too inexperienced. Some of our best Presidents have had little experience and some of our worst have had very long resumes (e.g. the first Bush, Nixon, Buchanan, Harding). Sometimes we should and do elect a transformative figure; a leader who by the strength of what they are and what they represent takes us closer to the promise of our ideals.

    We can be a benevolent world leader. We can uplift the least of our brothers and sisters. We can give a home to the tired, poor and oppressed. We can be good stewards of the good Earth. We can reward labor and preserve capital. We can overcome our enemies with forces other than military. We can be better.

    It is time for the same old cast of characters to leave the stage.

    July 27, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???? Hillary and the press start passing out the BUZZ WORD "INEXPERIENCE"......and now you are all repeating it about Obama LIKE PARROTS!!! Can't you people think for yourselves???? How much experience did Bill Clinton have before taking office?? He was governor or Arkansas for Chrissakes!!! How much experience does Hillary have???? NONE!!! She's a damn senator....a legislator!! She is NOT world leader!!! Everyone on the Dem ticket has little to no experience as POTUS....but hey!! The PRESS and HILLARY say Obama has no experience and the monkeys jump on the bandwagon spouting the same nonsense...I pity you people and this country!!! It's people like yourselves that are to blame for Bush being in the White House now!!!!

    July 27, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. L. McCain, Bowie MD

    GO Vince! I for one agree with your sentiments on the "inexperienced" issue. It would be nice if more people did their research before making inaccurate comments. That goes for Hilary and the press.

    July 27, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  20. Mike Dallas, TX

    Boy, the difference between Obama and Clinton could not be clearer than this.

    Where Clinton proposes CONVERSATION (again?) Obama wants BOLD ACTION.In other words it is the OLD WAY of talk,conversation,recommendation,commission etc..etc Vs the NEW WAY of candor and bold action.

    July 27, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  21. Jimmy Sanborn, Cherokee, Okla.

    Young Barack Obama This sounds very much like a racial thing. If that is what Barack Obama is about well then no-thanks.

    July 27, 2007 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  22. Marsha, Portland, OR

    Mr. Obama...I don't really see much of a difference:

    "I’m not going to have a conversation"

    "it would be more important to discuss"

    July 27, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. John, Michigan

    Sorry Vince, but four years ago Obama was on the national stage giving a speech and while I thought he was a good public speaker I certainly didn't think of him as wise or experienced. In fact had anyone asked my opinion I would have said "inexperienced." I am not Hillary, the press or on the bandwagon. I never supported Bush and I won't support Obama.

    July 27, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  24. -was-, Fairfax, CA

    Lord knows we need something different...very different. We need a shock; a down-right defibrillator to our political system. No candidate comes close to providing the systemic shock that an Obama presidency would deliver. And don’t *even* think that the “first woman president” gets us this needed shock. Hillary is as old-guard politician as they come. Everybody else running is “Same ‘ol; same ‘ol”…and “same ‘ol” is driving this country into an inescapable abyss.

    Please read Obama’s books; especially his first [Dreams from My Father]. This is a 'wear it on your sleeve' auto biography written before he even imagined he would be running for President. I know of no other American politician who has written their own book with such candor, directness and honesty. This writing is a window into a soul that we (the populace) rarely get to see in our elected officials. If we carefully compare his campaign rhetoric against his written word, we will see very little deviation. This communicates to us an integrity of word. Even if we don’t agree with every idea, thought, or spoken word, don’t we *crave* and *yearn* for this type of consistency and integrity of word? Haven’t the last 8 years bludgeoned us with enough deceit to kill us?

    In this world of spin, flip-flop, and media-appealing contortionism, Obama is the only person running who has told us who he is with his own pen and then years later backed it up with his own words. He is the only one who hasn’t spent his life feeding off our tax dollars inside the special interest machine. He has profoundly varied social experiences that cut across a huge spectrum of our country’s demographics. He is the shock that we need. And most importantly, the world will take notice.

    I think of all of our enemies; the people throughout the world who have come to truly hate us for what we’ve done in our recent past. I think of their reaction to the next person we elect as President. It is so easy for them to fully hate every other candidate. But an Obama Presidency? A shock! A reverberation throughout those that hate us that the citizens of the US are seeking a sincere change. We are seeking dialog. We are seeking consistency. We are seeking integrity.

    July 28, 2007 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  25. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Obama makes people laugh, INAUGURATION?
    He jumps just like a kid, just NAIVE senator, that's real Obama. Obama didn't answer the question, "what he could do to stop racial polarization...". He doesn't need a commission and conversation, he will do whatever he wants to do, that is not for the Country just for him, he lost his mind and very dangerous for our Country.
    Obama reminds me "Bonze's mind is on the rice offered to Buddha instead of praying" Obama needs to learn how to go through due formalities at dinner table with those internal high rank people first and then go out talk with international tough guys. He scares me.

    July 28, 2007 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
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