January 26th, 2008
10:20 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama: Campaign is about "the future versus the past"

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - At his South Carolina victory event Saturday night, Barack Obama described the 2008 campaign as a simple fight: "the past versus the future."

"We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington – a status quo that extends beyond any particular party," he said. "And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got."

Obama said his blowout win should persuade the cynics who thought his victory in Iowa "was just an illusion" that they were wrong.

The Illinois senator's other message: race is not a factor. He told the excited crowd of about 2,000 that after the four early nominating contests, he has "the most diverse coalition of Americans we've seen in a long time."

"They are young and old; rich and poor," Obama said. "They are black and white; Latino and Asian."

He cited a woman who once worked for longtime South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond, a Republican who continued to support segregationist views until his death in 2003.

"[She] knocked on doors for this campaign," Obama said. "Don’t tell me we can’t change."

Speaking in stentorian tones lightened by a singsongy lilt reminiscent of a Baptist preacher, he said, "Yes we can change! Yes we can!"

–CNN's Chris Welch
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. Andrea Kerr

    The young and the old need hope. There must be something greater that we can aspire to and accomplish and leave as a tangible legacy for our children and grandchildren. I feel America is on the verge of realising something greater than previous administrations have been able to offer. Obama represents that hope, vision and critical thinking and an unashamed practical approach to do what may not be popular politics but to do what he thinks is right. This challenges Americans to be agents of change including individuals like myself who reside in the not too far Caribbean island of Jamaica. For things to change, we have to change. America must choose Barack Obama.

    January 26, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  2. Julie, Binghamton, NY

    He doesn't want this campaign to be about the past because if it was, people would realize he is inexperienced.

    January 27, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  3. aware

    This is a minor victory for Barack, and I hope he keeps his ego in check. One would expect him to win big in the South.

    He certainly doesn’t inspire me. I look at this Black/White man who plays both sides of the field, and my stomach turns! If the Dems thinks this guy with soaring rhetoric and a vision without content from a Black Liberation Church is their change agent, this Democrat will vote Republican. 😦

    January 27, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  4. Bob, Florida - RFO

    Never underestimate the power of "vision".

    "… leadership is the art of direct and indirect influence … But, above all, it is the art of taking a vision of what must be done, communicating it in a way that the intent is clearly understood, and then being tough enough to ensure its execution." FM 22-103, Gen John A. Wickham, Chief of Staff of the US Army, 1987.

    Those of you who have never lead nor ever followed a real leader will always underestimate the importance of vision, inspiration and motivation!

    Management is not Leadership just as

    Experience does not mean good Judgment!

    Go Obama '08

    January 27, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  5. Murry

    Yeah for Obama! We don't want to go back to Republican or the Clintons! Obama can unite us. I'm not black. I'm not male. But, I'm voting for Obama.

    January 27, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  6. Jack

    Sen Obama,
    If I were you, I would lower the tone for this victory and be more candor about other candiates. You are very smart guy and you know very well that black will always vote for black first regardless any circumstance.

    Look, John Edward got just 1% of black vote in SC. How pathetic!

    January 27, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  7. interesting

    Future v. Past

    Nice speech. But, I think the Democratic establishment will have something to say about that on Feb. 5 in the 20 states.

    January 27, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  8. Mary

    Obama's mantra of change, change, change is like the Sirens of Greek Mythology – alluring, but ultimately doomed. Mr. Obama seems to have found an opportunity to capitalize on American's disgust with George Bush and his good ole boys. Unfortunately, the Clintons thirst for victory at any cost, has given Obama more validity than deserved. Hillary needs to back seat Bill and keep her eye on the ball, not on Obama. Obama is not the man for the job – People – stop drinking the Kool-Aid

    January 27, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  9. James Brown ( Independent )

    America is with you Obama !

    Turn the page.

    January 27, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  10. wow


    It's a good thing that Mrs. Obama doesn't need your approval for her hairstyle. In fact, it's a good thing that no one needs your approval period.

    January 27, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  11. Patty

    l A nice smile with an intelligent conversation. Well educated and well adjusted to American culture. It's the lies hiding deep in his heart and the knife hiding behind him that we must be concerned about. Killing you with a smile using a weapon or using constitutional law is no different. Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing. If you think otherwise, than they probably will hit your home first.

    January 27, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  12. Brandon Hartness

    Despite Senator Obama's attempts to compare himself to great political leaders such as Kennedy and MLK, the sad fact is that he simply lacks the leadership ability and the capacity to bring about the kind of change that is needed. When Hillary Clinton gets the nomination and wins the presidency in 2008, the Democratic Party will once again be restored as the party of change and the party that moves America forward. Senator Clinton has PROVEN that she is the candidate that can bring about change in the face of strong oppostion, and I look forward to her leading the party to victory in 2008!!!!

    January 27, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  13. John

    OMG I WANT TO CRY I"m SO hAPPY. I got on my knees and prayed so much on FRI. This is a really great man who has a lot of potential to do great things. The fact that CLINTONS could'nt recognize that and instead chose to make him look bad, especially at a time we really need to get over the whole american against americans, i thought was very sad and only spoke bad of them. I am happy the american people saw through that hype and MADE IT LOUD AND CLEAR, SMEAR CAMPAIGNS DO NOT AND NEVER WILL WORK AGAIN!!!

    OBAMA '08 Thank GOD!

    January 27, 2008 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  14. Norbert

    What future? The future does not yet exist. I got the HOPE but still cannot see. Obama, help me, I have HOPE, I have HOPE.but still cannot see the future.

    January 27, 2008 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  15. LINA


    OBAMA IS THE LEADER!!!!!!!!!!


    January 27, 2008 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  16. Joanna Pena

    The past?? We do not have time to have Obama learn on our dime. Clinton has the experience to deliver the right kind of change. The worst thing about Barack Obama's "Change" rhetoric is not that it is light on details. It is that it is a preposterous contradiction: while he claims to be fighting the status quo, it is he who embodies it. It isn't Hillary Clinton who made racist and sexist remarks and got away with it.

    Why did he get away with it? Because it's the status quo.

    Barack Obama will be humbled. But the most worrying thing is that, if he wins the nomination and general election, he may be humbled the same way George W. Bush has been: at the cost of the entire country.

    I'd rather he gain humility and experience on his own time. Lets not make the same mistake twice.

    January 27, 2008 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  17. Gavin

    Yes, OBAMA WANTS A FUTURE– SO HE CAN FORGET ABOUT THE SLUMLORD, Tony Rezko and all of his cop-out 'present' votes, and his health care plans that leaves out 15million Americans, and so on...and so on...

    There he goes again!!!!!!!! Obama running to hide behind a slogan

    January 27, 2008 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  18. atorriani

    Oo will persuade the world that America is a democracybama is the man wh

    January 27, 2008 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  19. Mitt

    Goerge W Bush prove that emotions work more than logic and common sense ..

    We are on a brink of proving that theory all over again .. Obama is doing a little better than Bush this time around
    God Bless America

    January 27, 2008 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  20. M.O. Yousuf

    Barack Obama reminds me of the qualities of John Kennedy: Energetic, Enthusiastic, Honest and Lively Youth. His momentous speeches are marvelous and astoundingly attractive. America, indeed needs, radical / genuine change and I am confident that Barack Obama will deliver this solemn promise.

    I am a Pro-American Saudi Citizen (a devote Moslem with both Islamic and Western cultures blended together) and my advice is “vote for him and give him a chance to change the face of America”. The truth is that America today is considered to be the most hated country in the world because of the arrogant and ill fated policies foreign and domestic. Obama possesses the courage, capability and vision to change all that.

    January 27, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  21. Glenn

    Would not the ideal setup be Hillary Clinton as President for 8 years and Barack Obama as Vice President? He would thereby gain the necessary top level experience that he does not have, Hillary has this in abundance. Then, after the first mandate comes to an end, run Obama for President and have another 8 years to anchor the changes that will come with a new Democrate government.

    January 27, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  22. John ny, ny

    Yes this caompaign is about playing with emotons of the people

    January 27, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  23. Mike Allen

    This is sooo true. Bush – Clinton - Bush- PLEASE! anybody but another Clinton.

    January 27, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  24. charlotte

    Michelle looks like Condi. I don't know, something about her I don't like, can't put my finger on it yet. Brother Opama, is a good speaker. If he is the future why does he compare himself to the past? He is no JFK! More a MLK, who was inspirational as well and in the past. JFK did not stutter or stammer in the debates, he had a lot of politics behind him, part of the Washington in crowd. Isn't that the very thing Opama preaches against? If Opama wasn't black he would have been long gone. The race card won't play in the rest of the country. I might add the popular vote went to NIxion. It's the electorial college that determines the winner. If he can pull off an upset on Super Tuesday, he might have a chance. The debate on Thursday, not his strong suit, will be a deciding factor.

    January 27, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  25. rick

    okay i don't see what the big deal is here,, obviously black americans feel most comfortable with someone who looks more like them,, just like many white and latinos feel more comfortable with someone that looks like them,, that is not racial but personal preference,, it was not suprising that this would happen just as it was not suprising that it happened in N.H. and Nevada,, nor will it be any different when we look back after super tuesday

    January 27, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
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