August 28th, 2008
06:55 PM ET
14 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. victor,nj

    Ryan August 28th, 2008 7:05 pm ET

    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.

    Hey, Ryan name anything that is positve about the eight years of this republican presidency.

    August 28, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Linda31

    I didn't think I would be emotional about this, but this is pretty amazing! America is a wonderful country where your dreams CAN come true!

    August 28, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. Patricia Gardiner

    Apparently Democrats do not live in the same country that I adpoted. If only they would get out of this country and see the world they would come crawling back and then keep their mouths shut. Listening to those that are believeing all this crap from and about Obama are so ignorant. Read up, wise up and learn the facts. I want to stay safe in America and this is not the one that is going to do that. He ahd to hire a pit bull of a Biden to do his talking – how is he going to stand up to Putin and other tyrants of the world. Wake up before it is too late.

    August 28, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  4. Jennifer

    YAY!!!! I cannot wait to watch this historic speech!


    August 28, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. Adrienne

    John McCain is a sleeze bag? I voted for Hillary Clinton in the California primary so I would hardly be considered a republican supporter. However, I am tired of the name calling and down-right nastiness of people like you who cheapen what we are doing. Don't you realize that those kind of words only make you look like you have no idea what you are talking about? They make you look juvenile and silly, though I am sure you in real life would have little to correct such a notion.

    One day I want ideas to triumph over hyperbole and name-calling.

    August 28, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  6. Donny from Claifornia

    We needed specifics, and he delivers. He says that change means: 1. Tax breaks to middle income families and new private businesses, 2. tax breaks to corporations that hire in America (Lou Dobbs should be happy), 3. an end to our dependence on foreign oil in ten years (VERY SPECIFIC), and 4. invest in renewable sources of energy (interesting to note that he also mentioned "nuclear" power).
    I hope we hear a clear response from the republicans so that we can have an honest debate over the issues. Good job Senator Obama.

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

    The democrats have been in control of congress for less then two years. where some people get there information from, I don't know. Please try to be accurate.

    August 28, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. GW

    Who really ends up paying for all the new spending that is proposed?Nobody has any extra money, and if you take away incentive by saying anyone making $250,000 or more is considered wealthy, therefore you must get hammered, taxwise, I would say that the America that has known excellence will be reduced to mediocity at best. What I want to see is a politician who acts on the following: "I feel your pain, therefore, we as politicians are going to go on the same health care plans, the same retirement plans, etc. as everyone else." There should be no elite political plans for the politicians that are paid for by the tax payers that taxpayers themselves would not have access to. That would seem to be more Democratic to me. What we don't need is someone that says "We need change, and with change we can change the changes that need changing."

    August 28, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  9. ana

    I am a democrat voting Republican this November. NOT interested on what 'borrowed speeches' has to say.

    I will actually be watching my Dallas Cowboys game!

    August 28, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  10. Cynthia

    Looks like the makings of a wonderful speech to be delivered. Of course, we all knew that he could.

    August 28, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  11. Staci, LA

    CNN spoil everything. Let people watch it on tv.

    August 28, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  12. lets think okc

    Things not earned can never be truley appreciated. I am so tired of hearing about what the government will do for me! All Obama wants to do is to increase the dependancy of the people. When a government gives you everything it has the power to take it. I do not believe that Obama will protect this country, he always seems to talk about how horrible we are, how "mean" we have been. He talks about the horrors of slavery, what about the over 300,000 men that died to preserve the union? The sacrifices made by the majority to bring about civil rights? If he would ever comment on the positive things in our country I would faint! He has no respect for this country. He sat in the pews for twenty years listening to the rhetoric of J Wright he let his children listen, wake up. His goals for our country are not positive. He wants the govt to control all of the money. He wants a redistribution of wealth! If we were to divide the wealth of America equally to all Americans within ten years we would be right where we are now. People willing to work will have it. People that earn things appreciate it more... Wake up smell the roses etc...

    August 28, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  13. 68 year young man

    We are a much better country than Obama and the Dems want you to buy into ! The only thing they have put forth is an unabiding hate for Bush and a lust for power they insist was stolen from them ! Misguided people!

    August 28, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  14. JT from TN

    What better day for O'bama to give his acceptance speech but on the same day that Dr KING gave his "I Have A Dream" speach 45 years ago. Dr King is a legend, a pioneer, a leader for all race. His dream was not only for black people but for all people. Tonight O'bama needs to come out swinging, come blazing and I GARANTEE you people will listen tov this years from now just like they listen to Dr. King still today.

    August 28, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  15. joe

    Kenneth- I guess you are ok with everyone paying your way. You propably fall into the 50% who pay only 3% of the taxes. I bet you probably believe that anyone who makes any money is a bad person. I wounder if you work for a small business. If you do then you should probably fear for your job. When Robin Hood talks about increasing taxes what he is really saying is he will increase taxes on small business becuase most small bunisness owners file their taxes as individuals. If they pay more taxes then they will not be able to afford as many employees. Small business in the country make up 80% of the businesses. I know Ken, Republicans are mean

    August 28, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  16. BK

    Donny from California
    A debate would be nice, but Obama hides from debates and town hall meetings. You can't take a teleprompter. Every time he goes off the script he loses points in the polls. He only goes on shows like the view so he doesn't have to explain anything. He has no experience, a lot of rhetoric, and no substance.

    August 28, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  17. The Right Choice




    August 28, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  18. JOHN


    August 28, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  19. Republicans Hate America

    Barak still has not said what he will do in office. What a phony argument. What the heck is McPhony going to do? We are still waiting to hear how many houses he owns and all he's got for an answer is POW POW, and bomb, bomb, bomb. Come on Johnny more solutions less paris hilton and your crush on Obama!

    August 28, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  20. Tennisguypitt

    It sounds WONDERFUL!!! Too bad, I have a lot of school work to do. I'll listen on the internet another time.

    Obama/Biden '08

    August 28, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. Marc K, Chicago, IL

    As a life-long DEM, I would hope his speech will be better than this sermon outline, which has problems already before it is even delivered.

    This '90% vote with Bush' is stretching the truth, as most of the bills voted on honor people, pay tribute to teams, established days of comendation, etc. On that front, Obama has either voted in line with them, or not been there to vote at all.

    On matters of key policy, McCain has gone against three straight GOP administrations many times on key issues. Obama has a lukewarm, if not cold record of accomplishment dating back to the Illinois Senate, which is fluffed up with generalities, rhetoric, and unrealistic promises. And many of his proposals are outright Socialism.

    Both Biden and Clinton were directly serious in questioning Obama's qualifications and vision for this office. Even with the lovey-dovey, kiss-and-make-up speeches, how can you credibly believe them, unless of course, Biden says it was 'just politics'. Does that mean he lied? It definitely means this is not the change Obama preaches about.

    As much as I despise Bush, cringe over the prospect of voting for a GOP candidate, and really believe that a different course of action is needed in our nation, no way could I vote for Obama.

    I do not agree with McCain on every issue, but I would rather break with my party and vote for McCain than trust this nobody with the direction of the most powerful job in the world. I honestly believe McCain will govern with conviction and not be afraid to act in the nation's best interests, popular or not. Obama just want to make us a larger welfare state than we already are.

    And before all is said and done, many of my fellow DEM's will do the same.

    August 28, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Jim

    Same old rhetoric from the same party. Going to save the country while advocating higher taxes toward rewarding second and third
    generation welfare recipients. Our economy..........look no farther than
    the party who's controlled the Congress the past two years. I want a platform with some intestinal fortitude who has this country's security as a major focus, reward those who work hard for a living, and rewards those who provide employment to others.

    August 28, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  23. Don

    This is all too much...As a democrat, I am actually concerned about the issues my party has put fourth. Do I think the media will do a just critique tonight..NO. Obama will be great..even if he is not..I think people should be more concerned about the millions of dollars that have been waisted on this election that could actually help the several hundred homeless people in my small city. Or how about the 100 million that the federal government is spending on security for these events..Could that not help some of our unemployed and hungry. This is shameful...but yet the Obama team will proudly say how much money they raised...just to waste on TV ads..Shameful...the whole process..So the truth is a typical man can not be President..only the super wealthy...I guess our choice is who is less elite.

    August 28, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. rich

    Only utter and complete idiots that don't even know how to take care of themselves or what's best for their own lives would vote for a 72 year old man that represents terrible times and failed policies to be president.

    Just saying...

    August 28, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. wiser

    Stagecraft and fluff with no experience that is what Senator Obama represents.

    Democrats for McCain!

    August 28, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
1 2 3 4