August 28th, 2008
06:55 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama's acceptance speech: 'We are a better country than this'

Barack Obama's campaign has released portions of his acceptance speech.


Excerpts of the Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
“The American Promise”
Democratic National Convention
August 28, 2008
Denver, Colorado

As prepared for delivery

“Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

“It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

“It is why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors - found the courage to keep it alive.

“We meet at one of those defining moments – a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

“Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay and tuition that is beyond your reach

“These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed presidency of George W. Bush.

“America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.”


“This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.”

“Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we’ll also hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

“But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush was right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.”

“You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

“We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put away a little extra money at the end of each month so that you can someday watch your child receive her diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

“We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work.

“The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great – a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.”


“That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.
“Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

“Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship our jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

“I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

“I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

“And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

“Washington has been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

“Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

“As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.”


“We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans - Democrats and Republicans – have built, and we are to restore that legacy.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

“I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”

soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. M in MN

    Fantastic! I can't wait to hear it!

    August 28, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  2. John

    GO OBAMA!!!

    August 28, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  3. Kenneth

    YES WE ARE a better country than this and YES WE CAN do better than John McCain.

    How pathetic can you be to try to tarnish this evening by coming out with some trashy advertisement and paying millions to broadcast it?

    Republicans should be ashamed for what their president has done to this country and they should be ashamed that they have a sleeze bag like McCain as their candidate this year!

    August 28, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  4. Ryan

    This has become the "America is a downright mean country" convention. Hannity has it right on this one. Go ahead and criticize me...I've heard nothing positive about America in 2008 from the democrats throughout this whole convention.

    August 28, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  5. Kevin,FL

    Well if u post this much you might as well post the entire speech.

    August 28, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. Julian, AZ

    I can't wait to hear this from him..himself.....oh! my God!

    Lord please keep him safe from harm, cause the Republicans are going to have a tough night sleeping after this self awakening speech for all AMERICANS.

    Wake up America! The dream is alive once again!

    August 28, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  7. P, CA

    This whole "rock star" argument is 100% BS. John McCain has seen his share of SNL appearances, TV series and late show appearances, he married a rich beer heiress, and he owns how many homes now? Huh?

    The truth is that the republican policy stance isn't the one that many entertainers, athletes, etc. agree with, and so Obama gets support from them. He's holding a big get-together to show the size of his support base. There is nothing wrong with any of this. More power to him.

    Call it "disgusting", "fluff", etc., but it's just your jealousy shining through. So, he has to show up in overalls and give his speech in a VFW dining hall? Please. He isn't a rock star, he's a rallying point for this country's need to heal itself. Don't blame Obama for the size of this thing, blame Bush and his failed policies. Blame the Iraq war. Blame the failing economy. We feel like we need Obama, and all the hoaxes and lies in the world can't match the intellect that Obama and his top surrogates have used to craft their policies. They aren't the status quo, and Invesco field could never hold everyone that is sick of that "stay the course" mentality.

    You're just flamers and haters who feel the need to support something small to look different than the growing trend.

    If you can post all the other drivel, CNN, you can post this. Please let this through.

    August 28, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  8. debkansas

    Blah Blah Blah. Sounds like superman to me. Where were you when all the above was being decided upon. Oh, you were just present, you just didn't voice you opinion and vote to NO to stop all the distruction you now talk about. Give us a break. Why should we believe you now. I will glad when Obama's circus is off the tv. He makes me nervous about his inexperience. Wonder who wrote his speech and long he has to practice it. Don't know about all this, if the money spent on this circus were given to his supporters, wow, they would all be out of debt, if he gave some of the money to New Orleans, how well off would they be. Policians stink.

    August 28, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  9. Roland

    I am staying up till 2 AM to listen to it . . . Hope he hits one out of that park! Go Obama!

    August 28, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. Greg

    Same ol' Obama I will, I will, I will, he always says what he's going to do but never does anything or even say how he will accomplish it. Obama continues to cut down Bush and G.W. isnt even running in the election. I can only hope that national security will continue to be as safe when President McCain is in office. For all of you Americans who are considering voting for Obama you better check him out good as I did and hopefully you'll be smart enough to vote McCain to ensure the continued existence of this great nation.

    August 28, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  11. joe

    You must be kidding. This guy shoud be working at Disneyland, since he is living in Fanastyland. If he believes that he can cust the Capital Gains for small business and cut taxes for 95% of the American people he is either telling a great big lie or he is plain stupid. Currently the top 10% wage earners pay 70% of the income tax while the bottom 50% pay only 3% of the income tax. Therefore if he wants to increase taxes for the 5% who will pay more I guess he is OK with the top 10% paying 90% of the income tax. Lets call this for what it really is, revenue redistribution. I guess you can call Obama Robin Hood. As far as the Clinton years, Tyco, Enron, Worldcom etc...the good old days. The dot coms or should we say the dot bombs. Simply put an economy built on a drunken sailor. There is so much more I can say but I have to get ready to listen to Robin Hood.

    August 28, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  12. Jon Cruz

    Ryan - really? Are you listening to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s children right now? His son's talk must one of the most moving things I've ever heard.

    August 28, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |

    A N D--H O W--L O N G-B E F O R E-–Y O U-–D I S O W N-–

    B I L L--A Y E R S --A N D-H I S--B O M B I N G-O F--U S--

    G O V E R N M E N T --P R O P E R T Y--A L O N G-W I TH--

    H I S -–L A C K ---O F---R E M O R S E

    August 28, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. Tatjana

    Obama has really nothing left to speak about.
    For almost 2 years we have been inundated with conflicting stories about his parents , youth , religion and his short political life.
    His surrogates have worked hard , not always truthfully , to embellish every aspect of his life.
    He was , and still is , a weak candidate , no fancy speeches will change that.
    Ironically , it was the Clinton speeches who gave him a small bump in his sinking ratings .
    I do no longer want to belong to a Party that doesn't honor a free and democratic election process.

    August 28, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  15. kwesi

    Dems, please leave this blog for republicans... we are off to witness history. I hope there will be enough space now for all your hate-filled-"celebrity" comments. America is moving on fellows and we ain't got time for these losers... . I am glad I have joy and love in my heart. Republicans, a.k.a evangelicals...release your hate....HERE! Adios

    August 28, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Gimme a break Ryan! Did you read the post? He just talked about America being the last best hope for freedom. Sean Hannity is an idiot anyway, hardly a person worth quoting.

    August 28, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  17. Julian, AZ

    Ryan, it sounds like you still got to go back and get your GED. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaurg have got you brain toasted and your eyes blind to the truth even if it sits at the tip of your nose.

    Keep in mind moron ...Hannity and Limbaurg are paid millions to fool the fool. They are just spin machines and never objective. I am a Republican but voting Democrats THIS YEAR! No McSame.

    August 28, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. CNN loves McCain

    Make us proud again!!

    Obama/Biden 08

    August 28, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  19. Proud American

    The Flag belongs to all Americans. GOP aint hijacking it this time. Welcome to the future Republicans. We wait for you with open arms.
    God Bless America!!!

    August 28, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  20. real1tucson

    Amazing. Our time has come. We are ready for a change. We are ready for a new administration under the leadership of Barack Obama.

    August 28, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  21. Karanja

    Obama is the real deal, i wish people would just see this....this kind of leader comes once in a lifetime

    August 28, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  22. stuart

    I hope that the voters will reject the concept of tax policy as organized thievery.In the past the argument for soak the rich was that the government faced deficits; now it is just take money from those who earn it and it give it to you, the voter. That is why Mr. Obama has selected a 250k threshold. Last year it was 75k; but that would leave too many voters on the paying side of the equation.
    This policy is not only economic idiocy, it is deeply immoral.Already the top 50% pay 97% of the income tax and most of that is paid by people making over 250k . How tilted can the system be?
    In the end, the USA will pay a bitter price for "yes we can"

    August 28, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. Tom in Delaware

    Some poor economics there, which is about all he is saying other than "Vote for me because I'm not a Republican...and all your woes are their fault."

    Nautrally there's no mention that the Democrats have been in control of Congress for 4 Years.

    Like Walter Mondale so aptly stated: "Where's the Beef?"

    Go McCain & _______, No to Obama Bi(de)n Drama

    August 28, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  24. sdf fan

    It will be, like most of his speeches, entertaining and inspiring. But this is his one play – the hail-mary, big-time speech. I keep coming back to the same thing Hillary hit upon time after time after time: how is THIS guy going to pull off anything? No experience, no results to show for. People believed in George W. Bush despite his weak resume and look what people are going to believe in Obama despite an even weaker resume and expect different results. This Democrat is voting for John McCain – the rest of you can support the newest American Idol.

    August 28, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. DJ Los Angeles

    That's right FDR and Kennedy were the very best this country has ever had.

    Obama has that caliber of integrity and leadership. McWarmonger is simply the politics of the past, cronism and letting the big $ lobbyists dictate/write the laws at the expense of the people.

    Obama/Biden '08

    August 28, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
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