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. Robert Wooller from Bradford, England, UK

    CNN's coverage is very impressive. I keep going back every day to and quite frankly can't keep away from it. Congratulations on educating the 1 billionth person on politics or educating for the 1 billionth time. CNN poltical ticker is truly the best place for up to date, in depth coverage of US politics. With so many blogs on the web, a lot are closed, not updated or don't recieve any comments, so CNN Political Ticker is equal to possibly most of them and more!!!

    CNN, the best, most trusted and most honoured name is news. No outlet covers the goings on of planet earth like CNN does!!!

    August 28, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |

    Honestly... His "words" are fantastic but they are JUST that... Don't think that when it actually comes down to "changing" the way things are that this guy is going to get it done... Sorry, WORDS will not do the trick...

    August 28, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  3. Doesn't like Kool-aid

    I agree with what the excerpt says, BUT...he doesn't believe in what he says. He doesn't believe that through hard work will get you anything. He believes in Govt. handouts...don't have to work hard for that. The hard-working people of this great country pay for the handouts.

    August 28, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. joe

    I see Ryan is taking a lot of heat on this blog. The truth must really hurt. Let me see, what has Bush done that is good. To start he has given more money for AIDS to Africa then all the other Democratic administrations combined, but I guess because he is a gay hating Republican that it does not count. As far as Kennedy being a great President, you must be kidding. He started the war in Vietnam, He fooled around on his wife while President and he almost got us into a nuclear war with Russia over the Cuban missle fiasco. heck he was only in office for a few years. Imagine what he could have done with a full 8 years. Oh, for those on the board that say they are Republicans voting for Obama, we don't believe ya.

    August 28, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  5. Derrick

    victor,nj August 28th, 2008 7:18 pm ET

    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.

    I've got one: Seven years since 9/11 without a single terrorist attack on U.S. soil. I'd rather not have al-Qa'idah in Iraq, but I'd much rather have our soliders fighting to defeat them them there as well as Afghanistan, than have our firefighters and police officers fighting in vain to save civilian American lives here after an attack brought on by the failed Clinton-Obama "see no evil hear no evil" approach to the war on terror.

    August 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |

    If he was REALLY concerned about making this country a better place he would have NEVER let them spend 80 million dollars on a party for him, 100 million dollars on security for him and let 25 hairdressers go through the streets of Colorado giving the homeless haircuts to look presentable for him... I was PROMISED "No More Politics as Usual" and that is NOT a good start people...

    What an absolute JOKE!!!!!!

    August 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  7. LA Ben

    Everyone needs to tune in tonight and witness what promises to be a landmark event. When history looks back on Barack Obama, he will be remembered not just as the first African-American US president, but one of the greatest political forces our country has ever seen.

    His presidency comes at a time of great distress – but also great opportunity. With so much work to be done at home and abroad, Obama's 8 year administration can take the first steps in literally reshaping how America and the world does business.

    August 28, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  8. TonyinKentucky

    ana, please remember to change your registration. You've been voting in the wrong primaries for forty years or so.

    Barack Obama has laid out more policy specifics than any candidate, perhaps in all of history. The Reich Wing needs new spin, all of your talking points have been utterly repudiated.

    Barack Obama, the next President of The United States of America!!!

    YES WE CAN!!!!

    August 28, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. Bob

    I posted a comment about an hour ago. It still has not shown up. Seems like CNN is partial to Obama. This is not right. All media outlets have a responsibility to allow everyone to be heard, and to report the news without bias. CNN has, apparently, tainted it's journalistic integrity. I entered my e-mail as required. If nothing else, at least respond via e-mail why my comments are being filtered.

    August 28, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. Professor

    It seems ironic that Barack Obama, a supporter of abortion, should talk about the "American Promise." He supports killing thousands of babies each year, who will NEVER see the American Promise.

    What a perverse two-faced hypocrite!

    Go McCain!

    August 28, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. annie

    While BO is talking about how long McCain has been in office and these things weren't taken care of, veepie biden and teddie boy have been in the just as long or longer!

    August 28, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  12. anotherperspective1

    It is time that the country puts the blame back on the democrats.
    What have the democrats been doing these past eight years?
    We pay them a salary and if they have all these complaints, why haven't they changed it?
    Obama is a lawmaker and he could propose laws? What has he done to help the people who voted him into the senate in Illinois?
    Obama promised change in 2004, what happened?
    Biden has been in the Senate 35 years. What has he done?
    It is time to hold the Democrats responsible.
    If the Democrates can dish it out, then they should be able to take it!

    August 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. Axl

    Obama's economics is spot on. We should reward creativity and innovation, not aristocracy that fails to create value. Elimination of capital gains tax on small businesses that innovate incents the right behavior. You wanna pay no tax, do something creative that adds jobs.

    The last 8 years have shown us that it's possible for 95% of American families to fall behind while the economy "grows" and remains "fundamentally sound."

    August 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. Rachelle

    Alright, I respect Obama as a person and all of the work he's done to get him thus far. However he is still lacking the specifics. HOW exactly is he hoping to accomplish all of these great ideas, more like ideals.?? Until I see a concrete plan of exactly how he plans to cut taxes by 95%, I dont think I want to vote into ofice someone who could change their mind. O yeah and lets not forget the fact that he is a liar. He voted against the bill that would've protected the rights of a baby if an abortion went wrong. Then on he said that he didnt vote aginst it. Do we really want a man in office who doesn't realize the sanctity of life? With all of the change that he's talking about doing maybe disrespect of human life will be next on the list of items to change .....besides taxes. God Save the USA

    August 28, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. Deepness

    Barack is certainly close to Roosevelt. Roosevelt made tons of social programs that caused the great depression. Kennedy/Johnson/Carter sent us into Vietnam and the depression of the 70s. And Carter was elected on his promoting conservation and "we'll have alternative fuels in just 10 years!"

    August 28, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Good evening,

    Love it. When I read the word As Commander-in-Chief it made be realize that this is the time, this is the urgency that demands all our great Commanders-in-chief of oour country to join the Democratic party and make history together! Mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers; you have been for many generations, for all of my own life and for many other lives our greatest examples of the true Commanders-in-Chief for our beloved country!

    August 28, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  17. Wolf

    Oh barf........and for those who thought that there was no dream left until Obama came along – that is your fault. You just want him to hand everything on a platter to you. Lazy – followers – just what Obama ordered! The dream has always been here – you have all been sitting on alot of it all this time. Pick yourselves up and get on with it. Obama will NOT be giving it to you. He only wants your votes....because the only one who can get you your dream is YOU! Fool!

    August 28, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  18. David W.

    Great speech writers. Does he even know what he is saying. Promises, Promises. Typical Politician. They will say anything to win and then what?

    August 28, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. Biffington, Biff

    if you are agreeing with Hannity,

    I will surely consider the source of that post.

    no criticism...

    (until next week from the republicans) (oh yeah.. and all of their ads THIS week)

    August 28, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  20. Terry - Ontario,Canada

    Have a wonderful evening Democrats and Republicans !!

    Today is a defining moment in your history and by extension, ours.
    Listen and act.

    You have an opportunity to make right, your mistakes of 2000 and 2004. Your media and/or your Republican politicans may not have
    told you the truth, all the time, but................we have heard and know the truth.

    Dubya is not to bright and he is the image we see and understand as
    America. My condolences and best wishes for the future.

    You need help, you need change !!

    August 28, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  21. Biffington, Biff


    Obama HAS gone into great detail about HOW he will accomplish things...


    August 28, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  22. Liz

    I think McCain is a respectable person who has taken the right kind of risks, but Obama is the first candidate that I have ever fully trusted or believed. I think we have an extremely special opportunity to vote for someone that will lead this country in a new, positive direction. I'm so proud that my country has brought him to the fore and cannot wait until the November election!

    August 28, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  23. Andrew

    I got goosebumps just reading the excerpts. I can't wait to see the actual speech!

    August 28, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  24. Brendon NH

    Obama is a great speaker no doubt, he makes promises that sound great. The problem I see is that there is no proof on his resume that he can deliver on what he says. State Senator, then US Senator. Look at his voting record subjectively and I believe you will see that he is a paper dragon. He is a unicorn riding utopian with no way to deliver what he is promising.

    August 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  25. Chuck

    You wouldn't know we are a better country from the antics of the DNC during the primary season!!!

    Mr. Obama, fix your party before you tinker with my country!!!

    August 28, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
1 2 3 4