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

Obama makes his closing case in Iowa

ALT TEXT
(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. kim

    Barack is gonna win this. As he states when he echoes Dr. King's words
    "The Fierce urgency of NOW, we are at a crossroads (America) and we cannot follow the same road we have taken in the past. Barack symbolizes change in America and that change will ensure this country's success in this new century.

    Barack in 08!

    December 27, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Jonny

    This is true spirit of the genius of our forebearers–Lincoln, Jefferson, etc. You may not like him because of the color of his skin, but deep inside you, you know is the best for the country NOW. The truth is that most of us white–wants to convinced ourselves that we are not racist–when we can't look at the content of the character of this man than judge him by the color of his skin. May God bless Obama!

    December 27, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Gail,Fresno,Ca

    As Barack says, "Let's go change the world".

    December 27, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. kevin

    Seems Obama's judgemen and wisdom where right on the mark. The war on and in Iraq caused us to take our eye off the ball in Afganistan. The taliban and alcida have regenerated and become more powerful in pakistan/afgan border. Pakistan is now on the verge of implosion. Then what? Nukes in the hands of terrorists? Judgement is like common sense, its not learned, it inate. Experience means nothing without judgement and common sense. The time for this generations JFK is now and that man is Barack Obama.

    December 27, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Steve Johnson, New York

    Obama you have my vote!

    December 27, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. Charles T, VA

    Please CNN post a video of this speech or at least a link. Any one out there with a link? Please help.

    December 27, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Darren

    Cut through all the politics of fear to change the course of history – this terrible funk we're in. Sign me up!

    December 27, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. Lioness, Washington DC

    Great speech, and superb closing arguments. Barack is really being clear on what the choices are: either HRC, whose promises to effect change ring hollow and are counterintuitive or Edwards, who has yet to walk the walk.

    Versus Obama, whose vow for change is credible and who has spent a lifetime in publc service practicing what he preaches.

    December 27, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. Marti

    The time for "leaders" who jump in first, then consider the ramifications of their "jump" is past. This is the time for a President who is able to see a wide picture of a situation; can choose his advisors wisely; who can proceed with extraordinary judgment; and who can do all of this in partnership with other leaders in other nations. This is the time for Barack Obama.

    December 27, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Esaias

    If America could set aside the politics of fear and elect a true leader that will change the course of history, Obama will be the next president. He has the character, the passion, the compasion, the vision, and the honesty to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, USA. Go Obama!

    December 27, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Sandy H.

    Could someone post the video of whole speech to youtube? I hope that everybody has a chance to watch it!!!

    December 27, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. Kerri H, Archbald, PA

    Obama is the one! He is authentic! Step up to the plate all you cynics out there and cast your vote for this man – because he is going to make history!!!

    December 27, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. rosemergy

    Would love to see a video of this, too. In fact, I'd be willing to sit through a brief commercial presentation before the video for the opportunity. Hint, hint, CNN...

    December 27, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. Rebecca Giardina

    A true tour de force. Obama saved the best for last.

    December 27, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. Jeff, Des Moines, IA

    Just got back from this speech! AMAZING! I think I've made up my mind.

    December 27, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  16. Tammy

    I think Sen. Obama's remarks were spot on. I truly do not understand how the country could even consider voting for Sen. Clinton based on her argument of experience.

    Learning that Sen. Clinton didn't even have a security clearance during Bill's time as president makes it crystal clear that Sen. Clinton's 1990s "experience" was derived from pillow talk. It also clarifies why Sen. Clinton does not want to release her White House papers. What else would we learn about her lack of experience?

    It's illogical for Sen. Clinton to claim that she can fix things when she's been part of the problem. She's been in Washington long enough that if she wanted to fix things, if she had any intention of fixing things, she would have offered up some legislation to that effect.

    John Edwards isn't much better. He has apologized for every significant vote he cast during his six years in the senate. He apologized for voting for the bankruptcy bill, no child left behind, supporting NAFTA, the Iraq war, etc. John Edwards spent six years wasting the taxpayers dime only to now ask us to reward him with the presidency.

    I truly hope my fellow Americans are paying attention and looking at what these folks HAVE NOT DONE, rather than listening to what they say the will do.

    I figure if you were in the position to make change and you haven't done it by now, you never will. Why would I be foolish to believe that you would make changes beneficial to the American as president if you didn't do it as a one term Senator or as former first lady now serving as a US Senator?

    December 27, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Jennifer, Savannah, GA

    The mere fact that Senator Obama is the only candidate that understands that we, Americans, need more LIGHT in Washington speaks volumes. Wake up America. That "LIGHT" is paramount to the status quo that's fed to us by other candidates.

    December 27, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. E, Layton UT, Living in Freiburg, DE

    Powerful, level-headed and inspiring. It sounds like the "great stories" of a "great America" that I heard and read about when I was a kid.

    Forget the heat... bring on the light!

    I wonder how many YouTube hits this video will get when it comes out :)

    December 27, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Kwabena Asante, Bonn, Germany

    Obama brings HOPE and CHANGE as compared to FEAR. American needs to rediscover its place in the dynamics of the world through Obama. A video of his speech will be great and the photo credit from AP accomanying the article presents a humble, charismatic and spiritual firm President who the world can relate to.

    The so called Washington experience, which has not worked for the ordinary American and often invoked by Senator H. Clinton, shows a strong desire to keep to the status quo and special interest groups at the expense of the majority of American irrespective of been a Democrat, Republic, ndependent and most important human kind.

    OBAMA the world needs your judgement to move us forward.

    December 27, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. Grace D, Washington, Iowa

    My god, I want to see the video of this.

    I'm already excited I wish I had to vote for him today.

    December 27, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. Ben, Nashville, TN

    The current game just breeds more terrorists. Obama's right – we need a new way of doing business in Washington and we need people to get together to solve problems.

    I thought GW Bush would do that. He totally abandoned that agenda.

    But the clincher for me – I have a good friend who actually attended HS with "Barry" Obama in Hawaii, and he says that Obama is the genuine article ... really a good, down-to-earth guy who's focused on solving problems and treats people with respect, no matter what their color or background. His decision to identify himself with the poor tells me that he's not just talking the talk. He's walked the walk.

    December 27, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. Laura Hubka-Iowa

    A leader of the nation. A man of his words. Barack Obama has a ticket to the White House. All of us, at one timeor another have dealt with a boss, a plumber, a carpenter or machanic that says they have the experience only to find out later when the job is done, that everything they touched is now broken worse than it was before we started. I am not willing to take that chance. I am supporting Barack Obama in the Caucus and am bringing 20 of my neighbors.

    December 27, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  23. Matt, Houston, TX

    I want my MT . . . oh, wait a minute . . . I want a video, too. Maybe on Barack's web site? DOH!

    December 27, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  24. Terri, Plantation, FL

    Perhaps this article would seem less biased if the actual translation were printed rather than putting words into Senator Obama's mouth.

    If anyone is interested in facts opposed to spin, the transcript is at Senator Obama's website. It was a brilliant and inspiring speech. And by now everyone understands who in this campaign 'attacks' and it isn't Senator Obama.

    December 27, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. RICH, NY

    PLEASE SEND ME VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE SPEECH OR POST IT ON CNN. WEB SITE!

    December 27, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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