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!"