December 27th, 2007
12:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama makes his closing case in Iowa

(Photo credit: AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Before a wildly enthusiastic standing room only crowd in downtown Des Moines, Barack Obama delivered the closing argument of his Iowa campaign Thursday. He framed his campaign as the only one aspiring to the true possibility of a better America and he called on his audience to reject the anger and appeals to fear that he suggest are coming from both Sen Clinton and Sen John Edwards campaigns.

Challenging Sen. Clinton’s claim that her Washington experience makes her best positioned to enact reforms, Obama said “you can’t at once argue that you’re the master of a broken system in Washington and offer yourself as the person to change it.” Taking on her vote on the Iraq war, he charged, “You can’t fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues as profound as war and offer yourself as the leader who is best prepared to chart a new and better course for America.” In another not-so-thinly veiled attack on Senator Clinton he denounced Democrats who engage in “the same politics of fear”, who “invokes 9/11 as a way to scare up votes.”

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer quickly reacted to the speech, saying, “Now is not the time for political attacks, it's time to pick a president who can give us a new beginning in a time of war and a troubled economy."

"There are big stakes in this election – Iowans are going to pick the candidate best able to make the change we need starting on day one and that candidate is Hillary Clinton," he added.

Turning to John Edwards’ message that the struggle against special interests requires head-on confrontation that only Edwards is willing to engage in, Obama offered this: “There are others in this race who sy that this kind of change sounds good but that I’m not angry or confrontational enough to get it done. Well let me tell you something, Iowa. I don’t need any lectures on how to bring abut change because I haven’t just talked about it on the campaign trail, I fought for change all my life."

The speech, which lasted about 25 minutes, was billed as the debut of a honed message that the Obama campaign hopes will deliver him this first-in-the nation state and give him the momentum to win in New Hampshire and beyond. The speech was filled with talk of hope and change – his theme throughout the campaign. At one point he insisted of Washington “we don’t need more heat, we need more light.” The speech was littered with references to cynics, and those engaged in a “divisive food fight” in Washington; He also thanked the crowd for letting him run what he insists is a positive campaign. “You have vindicated me Iowa,” he declared.

The boisterous audience made up largely of voters who are already committed to Obama, gave him rounds of rousing applause. Some of the loudest came when he insisted votes have a change to “build a new majority of not just Democrats, but Independents and Republicans who’ve lost faith in their Washington leaders ,but want to believe again – who desperately want something new.” He went on to insist he’s the most electable of the Democratic field.

He closed with an impassioned call to aspire to something better than the red-blue divide in politics. “This is the moment, this is our time, and if you will stand with me in seven days …we will change the course of history.”

- CNN's Jessica Yellin

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. Frank

    Most media have turned to smokescreen and agents of prevarication to deceive people why jettisoning the real issues and the truth which the candidates stand for.

    December 27, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  2. ss,chicago,Illinois

    Mr. Obama was asked a few weeks ago on CBS which country was the most dangerous in the world, and he said it was Iran. But when the time came to vote to denounce Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization in the senate, he was too busy campaigning in New Hampshire . Is that good judgement or what? He says he opposed the war in Iraq like many millions of Americans . But he never opposed the war in the senate. In fact, he voted to fund the war in the senate. Is that leadership? Mr. Biden and Mrs. Clinton both said Pakistan was the most dangerous country, and today's events proved them to be correct. They have exhibited good judgment based on years of experience and knowledge and not off the cuff, ill supported remarks like Obama . By not taking a demonstrative stand in the Senate, Mr. Obama gets to have it both ways: appealing to the people with his words while criticizing his opponents. Mr. Obama says his father was a Muslim but did not practice Islam. This is like saying I drank but was not drunk. Who cares whether he practiced Islam .Mr. obama lacks experience,good judgement and leadership.

    December 27, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  3. GB, Detroit metro, mi

    What a waste. This guy has no chance Bye

    December 27, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  4. Lisa

    Hhhmm...I have nothing against Barak, (although touring with Oprah was a little weak) but I have to say he really hasn't proven himself in politics yet...I could see him as prez 4-8 years down the road...but does he have enough experience to deal with what a mess he will inherit now? I am voting for HRC because I feel she has a much better chance of defeating the opposition and taking the white house. Also, she is a fighter...and we need Democrat with experienced boxing gloves on. If the Republicans try to fix the election again she will have to come out swinging.

    December 28, 2007 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  5. Captain-Sky

    Senator Clinton You Should Have Gotten Rid Of That Idiot Phil Singer His Responses To Obama And His Campaign Attacks Are Like Obama Throwing A Brick,And You Coming Back With Your Same BS That You Have Dished For A Year,Get Rid Of His A–.

    December 28, 2007 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  6. Fair,Washington DC

    Why do you Obama supporters keep acting like this election is between Obama and Clinton. Take off the Obama rose colored shades and look at your candidate in the General Election..its not a pretty sight. This experience thing is not going to go away , as a matter of fact its going to get more intense if we have him as our nominee. The only argument you guys come up with when someone atttacks him on experience is to compare him to Hillary. First of all , experience is not a issue for Hillary, just look at how the experts are saying the situation in Pakistan is a boost for her, secondly Barack may be across from John McCain in the General..can you Obama supporters get him to give a straight answer that won't have him looking like the weak "National Security" candidate that he is when the Republican nominee comes after him which they surely will. I'm guessing he won't because he probably believes in the statement he made that sealed my theory that he's not ready, " Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be the next President." Thats not confidence thats arrogance and you people want to call Hillary the inevitable arrogant candidate. Whatever.

    December 28, 2007 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  7. Joe

    Obama has more experience in elected office than Hillary Clinton. Being First Lady does not equal actual decision-making experience.

    December 28, 2007 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  8. Captain-Sky

    And What Did He Say Exactly Linoq What That Change Were Going To Be,Change His Dope Habit,Kiss Oprah's A–,Wallow In S–T For 4 Years,I Mean Please Tell Me What Exactly Was The Change He Were Refering To,Because I Haven't Heard It Since He Started This Change & Hope LIE.

    December 28, 2007 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  9. JC

    It is a testament to the strength of our political system that it can produce leaders like Obama. Jefferson wrote that the country would require a revolution every other generation to sustain itself. Thankfully, that has not proved to be the case, but it does suggest that if the conventional wisdom is allowed to dry it becomes a prison, trapping us into interest groups to be polled and manipulated. We need new thinking every once in a while, a new majority, a new plurality. Because the problems are real, the crisis is looming, and we will only be able to fix them, if we are willing to listen to what the "other side" has to say and work on a solution together. I don't think this is a question of experience, though Clinton and McCain deserve our respect for their service to their country; this is a question of outlook. Bills cannot pass the legislature without votes, that is true; but laws can only do so much; without vision and compassion, laws are only burdens. This election is very clearly generational–we have a choice between whether we want to move on or stay pat–but whatever we decide, the decision is made. Reagan is part of our identity as a country, as is FDR, Kennedy, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln. Whoever we elect will be the decisive voice for the next decade at least, which is why I would rather it be an inclusive voice like Obama's rather than the partisans from the ideological battles of the past who believe we all will be better off if they simply have their way once and for all.

    December 28, 2007 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  10. Jamie, Houston, TX

    The "First Lady doesn't count" argument is so weak. Yes, Hillary was ELECTED to the Senate in 2000. But her 8 years in the White House with Bill are just as important. No one would dispute the impact or influence that Karl Rove or other UNELECTED advisors have on this current administration. Just because Hillary's official title was "First Lady" doesn't mean she hosting tea parties. Hillary was just as integral part of Bill's administration as others. And for people to say otherwise is simply sexist.

    All the speeches and rosy images in the world isn't gonna solve the problems of this country. This country let Bush hoodwink us with that same bring the country together imagery 7 years ago. Now look where we stand. We simply can't afford to have another President-in-Training. (Although Mr. Obama wouldn't even make it to President because the Republicans will eat him alive.)

    This country has a laundry list of problems that need to be handled starting January 2009 and I just don't see anywhere where Mr. Obama is saying he has the EXPERIENCE to do that. Is he planning on speeching away this war? Is a good speech gonna drive down gas prices? Will us holding hands get us health insurance? If you haven't noticed Bush gives brilliant speeches every January in the State of the Union. All talk and little substance to back it up won't cut it.

    Hillary Clinton '08

    December 28, 2007 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  11. BR-New York City

    dmw, roeland park,ks December 27, 2007 1:13 pm ET

    "Talk is cheap. Obama is inexperienced and America is less intelligent than I even thought if we buy into this man who does not have any new ideas or specifics about what he will do as President other than to say lets change and hope for better things. To me this shows that he is naive and this is the real world.

    He speaks in generalities and as the law professor that he was in the past. America is basically an optimistic country, but it does no good when it can not be enacted. Obama is a talker and not a doer.

    I hope (good huh?) that America sends him back to the U.S. Senate and let him vote and take a stand on issues and work through what he really believes in, then come back and try again from President. Times are too serious for his rookie status and the impression that he is God come back to save us all."

    What experience does Hillary Clinton have? Oh, my bad...she was the first lady to a cheating husband...that should qualify her to be president of the United States. Experience is overrated.

    December 28, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. BR-New York City

    JOHN SMITH,GA December 27, 2007 2:08 pm ET

    Barack Obama showed once again that he is not ready to lead this country.He needs to tell us why should he be our President instead to "lunch" some silly attacks. But I understand why. As people get to know him, they quick realized that the man is not ready to the challenge the country is faced. I bet that HRC and Edwards will best him in IOWA.

    To John Smith,

    Thank God you are not running for president. But, if you were, where would you "lunch" your campaign? At least Obama can spell...

    December 28, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  13. Bonnie

    I don't think that Obama has any reason to throw comments about John Edwards
    Or any one else.He is yet untried at the job of having knowlege of foreign matters.
    He may have grown up in another country but that does make for experience.
    Thank for this opportunity to express my feelings on the subject

    December 28, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. KG

    albert einstein said problems can never be solved with the sme consciousness as that which solved can hilary talk of experience as a white house first lady did she at all formulate policies or was she just asked to chip in her opinion.thats if husband bill was not busy with a mistress.experience wise hillary and barack are more or less the same.right now is a turbulent time for america i feel the white house should minimise on foreign policiy for i feel that has been america's greatest undoing.focus has drifted from home issues so much.let us dwell more internally.barack should step up on conveying his actual message rather than sitting on the fence.hillary should mind her ambition for its the father of all deceit.both front-runners have a far chance of winning.hopefully democrats will see beyond their patronage to a single candidate after the primaries and back whoever is victorious for president.

    December 28, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. ryan

    Clean up your act cnn. There are basic spelling and grammatical errors throughout the ticker.

    December 28, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. Andrew, New Orleans LA

    If Hillary runs in the general election, she already alienates around a third of the voting public (including me) just by being Hillary Clinton. And wait till the Republicans rip into her "experience" and her so-called character. She is the most polarizing figure in American politics should you like it or not. It's sad and unfair but when Hillary's supporters say someone else is unelectable, it's like the pot calling the kettle black. And if you wonder why Barrack stays vague or broad about his type of change, look at HRC. She does the same thing when citing her experience or her stance on issues. The whole point is that this is just the primary and candidates don't want to make specific promises to their own party that won't translate well when courting independent voters in the general election. If Obama gets the nomination, the only candidate he can lose to is McCain, simply because John's the only other unifying and likable candidate with a serious chance to win the election. Romney is unlikable and flip flops, Huckabee is an Evangelical nut, Edwards is too "anti-establishment" to get proper financing, and Hillary is Hillary (which isn't good folks). Get real you Hillafantics

    December 28, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  17. Grey

    This was a good article that could have been great without the Clinton rebut/support. I read the article because of my interest in what Obama had to say in HIS closing arguments rather than the opinions of other candidates and their camps. Unless we see the same allowances/balance in the Clinto/nEdwards articles to come, the writer should refrain for showing unsolicited bias.Just state the facts.

    Finally, the article was riddled with grammatical and spelling errors not to mention a poor photo choice.

    December 28, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  18. Nick

    Sen Obama's response to the Bhutto assassination is unfortunate and reveals a disturbing trend, which is to use external events to his political advantage, without concern about the ramifications of his position. In this case he is trying to remind everyone about his opposition to the Iraq war. Aside from this being highly innappropriate, he is sending a message to the Pakistani people that his own political fortunes take priority over how the US should respond to such a crisis and show little in the way of support of moderate Pakistani's. This is neither constructive nor principled. For someone who professes such lofty ideals about changing the world this smacks of political opportunism.

    December 28, 2007 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  19. Bill

    Here's the video everyone is asking for.


    December 31, 2007 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  20. Renee

    Hey great article. Check out the site Obama's Victory Speech at Daily Cents

    January 7, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Shelly

    Ok, I am a Democratic and Myself and others are worried about Obama becoming President. Yes, he is an intelligent man and preaches his word well. But here, is a person that has only 2 years experience in the U.S. Senate!

    What is he going to do the first 40 days if he gets in the White house? What our his actual policies that he stands for? Why isn't he ever present in the senate when they vote on the issues? He has been absent a lot? He doesn't have any foreign relations experience. The list goes on...

    I think people around this country are just listening to him preach and they think it is all good, but it isn't. If he gets the nomination, the Republicans already said they are going to rip him to shreds on his experience and everything else. We will then be left with probably having another Republican in the White House.

    Everybody really needs to think about who they vote for. Yeah, change is great and everything, but if he doesn't do anything about it. It is just a word then used to suck everyone in.

    HIllary at least has experience and her policies will work. Obama's health care plan will not cover everyone. We need Hillary to take over, she has done great things over the years and she is in great standing with the international world!

    People need to look at her as the next President, and not at her gender! She is sincere and cares about us!

    January 9, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. Shelly

    I think Obama won in Iowa because he brought out Oprah! People pick someone and don't be influenced about the celebrities!

    January 9, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  23. Shelly

    One more thing. On MSNBC last night during the NH Primary. Joe Scarborough told everyone how his friend in Florida said, What is going on that people are going for Obama? Don't people realize he has only 2 years experience and the Republicans are going to shred him. It will hurt the Dems chances of getting in the White house if he is nominated. Joe Scarborough was in Congress and knows what is going on.

    January 9, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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