November 7th, 2012
02:19 AM ET
10 years ago

Transcript: Obama's victory speech

(CNN) – President Barack Obama delivered remarks Wednesday in Chicago. Read below for a transcript of Obama's remarks.

OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.


OBAMA: It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.


Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.


OBAMA: I want to thank every American who participated in this election...


... whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.


By the way, we have to fix that.


Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone...


... whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.

I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign.


We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight.


In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.


I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America's happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.


OBAMA: And I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago.


Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation's first lady.


Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you're growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom.


OBAMA: And I'm so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog's probably enough.


To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics...


The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning.


But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the life-long appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley.


You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you've done and all the incredible work that you put in.


I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you'll discover something else.

OBAMA: You'll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who's working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity.


You'll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who's going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift.


You'll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse whose working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.


That's why we do this. That's what politics can be. That's why elections matter. It's not small, it's big. It's important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.

That won't change after tonight, and it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.


But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America's future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers.


A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.

OBAMA: We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.


We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this - this world has ever known.


But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being. We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag.


To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner.


To the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president - that's the future we hope for. That's the vision we share. That's where we need to go - forward.


That's where we need to go.

Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path.

By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.


And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.


Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual.


You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do.


OBAMA: But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That's the principle we were founded on.


This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.

OBAMA: The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great.


I am hopeful tonight because I've seen the spirit at work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job.

I've seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.


I've seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.


And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.


I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father's story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own.

And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That's who we are. That's the country I'm so proud to lead as your president.


OBAMA: And tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future.


I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight.

I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.


America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.


I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.


And together with your help and God's grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Sf

    I have never been morre happy, more inspired or more proud!!!! Thank you fellow citizens for getting it right!!!! A sigh of relief can be heard around our nation!!!! And to those republocans in congress who want to continue with their obstructionism and ignorance...2014 midterms are not that far!!! We will be watching u!!! And will replace u with someone who will WORK to make our country stronger and help our president when he extends the olive branch!

    God bless the POTUS & the United States of America!

    November 7, 2012 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  2. Expat American

    Beautiful speech.

    But bright and early tomorrow the work begins to defeat the Republicans in 2014 and 2016!!!!!

    November 7, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  3. Joseph

    President Obama, Congratulations on your re election. We love you from the South Pacific. Long live the President of the United States of America. May God bless you and USA richly going forward.

    Port Moresby, PNG

    November 7, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  4. Tom Anderson

    SF, is that you, or Michelle Obama?

    Ahem. So glad you are SO happy and proud. Just curious, what exactly are you proud about? The fact that 1/2 this country re-elected a loser who has NO success in office? Are you happy about our high unemployment? About paying more for health care? Are you sad to see our great nation lose its credit rating? Are you brimming with excitement over the fact that people who have managed to hold onto their homes now have property a fraction of what it is worth? That our energy prices and food prices continue to spiral upwards? Are you consumed with warmth and goodwill that tens of thousands of people simply gave up on trying to find work?

    Or, are you just glad a black guy that loves abortion, playing golf, flipping off people he does not like, believes in socialism, and is destroying this country is the guy that one tonight?

    Curious what you are happy about, and can you share?

    November 7, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  5. don

    Well done, sir! God bless America, and the world.

    November 7, 2012 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  6. Tom Anderson

    While I am asking question SF, what olive branch were you talking about? The one that he stated "he won"? The one where he refused alternatives to Obamacare? That one? The many times he said he will not compromise? Or called 1/2 the population "the enemy"? Care to clarify?

    November 7, 2012 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  7. 2020

    We have travelled this path before, and glad we come thru the same path again. This time, we are more hopeful, more confident and more trusting. We have each other's back.

    Together we are an unyieldling force . We move mountains, we split waters, together we overcome hardship, together we rebuild a better America.

    Yes, we can. We did, and we will. This is not a promise, that is a reality. You are welcome to join in . Walk with us. Brighter future is ahead of us.

    November 7, 2012 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  8. wale oshodi

    To me, Obama's much more than a president. He's simply a LEGEND. His victory speech practically knocked me off my feet. I'm pleasantly delirious!!!

    November 7, 2012 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  9. Name abdul rahman kargbo

    obaman bravo!! pls. try reunite the world. god bless america.

    November 7, 2012 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  10. Sad American

    The country has never had a higher national debt, gas is at an all time high and unemployment fell under 8% for only 2 months after he promised 6% in his first campaign yet 50 million are okay with this. It's just sad...I'm glad I work 80 hours a week in my small business so that others can live comfortably in the "middle class", use welfare as an excuse not to look for a job or hone their skills that would make them more desirable to employers and rely on food stamps for groceries while they buy their alcohol and cigarettes with cash. It's a sad day to be a hardworking American.

    November 7, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  11. Colbert Nengovhela

    Having stayed up all night in South Africa to watch democracy in action I am proud of the president Americans elected. Well done Barack and Mitt for runnig such fierce campaigns.

    November 7, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  12. ST

    Tonight I have learnt something very important in my life. That whatever happened on earth, god is there and is talking to us indirectly.
    The Sandy storm came from nowhere the same the Economic melt down came in 2008. In 2009 the then candidate Obama showed up and started to tackle it. Before Sandy came to the shores the same person Pres. Obama started to tackle it. Bill Clinton showed up during the Dem convention and told the whole nation that Pres. Obama has done something remarkable on economy, not even him or someone else could have done it, and people bought his words. The same Gov. Christ Christie showed up during Sandy storm and told people exactly what Pres. Obama did and people again bought his words. The cleaning up of the economic mess is still continuing, the same the cleaning up of the Sandy storm is still going on. Remember Pres. Clinton and Christ Christie were not good friends of Pres. Obama, but I assume they both are now. I have tried to compare these two incidents and I see the similarities.

    November 7, 2012 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  13. Name Willie

    Obama is finest,the greatest speaker of all times

    November 7, 2012 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  14. Wow

    I was sure Romney would win before closing my eyes to sleep last night. I woke up and had to check the results right away. To my surprise, Obama pulled through. He asked God to bless our United Stares. That made me happiest of all. Without God, we are NOTHING. May the next 4 years bring this country relief and this world peace.

    November 7, 2012 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  15. Lorraine

    Yes we can & yes we did. Tonight we proved we saw things for what they really were and although things are not perfect, we know who will move us forward, who will move us down the right path. We know who really cares about our nation, about our people, and we know who is the right man for the job. No one deserved re-election more than you tonight, Mr. President. We love you and God bless you.

    November 7, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  16. monyooe taole

    words cannot even explain how happy we are for MR Obama on his victory here in Africa,he went against all odds,he has a reflection of a true warrior,reminds me of a movie called 300.he has lifted the spirits of blacks and his words are strong,appiling and motivating.his name should amongst the greatest such as MR Martin Luther king and MR Nelson Mandela.MR PRESIDENT OBAMA IS A TRUE PARAGON OF HUMAN PERCTION.

    November 7, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  17. David B. Pyoas

    A victorious President Obama acknowledges the need for unity and the work we face ahead.

    November 7, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  18. Anonymous

    what an amazing speech from president Obama !!!

    November 7, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  19. Name.lopeyok frank

    Congratz mr Prezo.a wonderful speech.may God bless U.s.

    November 7, 2012 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  20. geggyg

    As an Australian i congratulate the American people and Pres Obama on his relection . The majority of aussies feel the same , we felt that Pres Obama would be better for the American people and for the world than Romney. Despite what Romney kept saying during the campaign Obama didnt make the US a laughing stock to the rest of the world. We dont always agree with what the US does or every policy that Obama introduced (good start on healthcare though) but friends are allowed to have some differences of opinion . Good luck for the next 4 years

    November 7, 2012 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  21. Yousuff sie

    He wowed everyone-
    I'm not surprised one bit.

    November 7, 2012 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  22. Akubude Jude

    ..what a wonderful speech! is obvious that the United State of America is bigger than any individual political mindset
    ;May God Bless America!

    November 7, 2012 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  23. CA

    @Sf and Expat American- your comments above prove Obama is full of hot air in his victory speech when he says that we are not as divided as the pundits claim. You are already planning to defeat your 'opponent' years from now without even a single thought or word spoken by them.

    When will politicians and Americans in general work for the sake of the country and not for their own personal (or political party's) gain??? Until then, we all will continue to suffer..

    November 7, 2012 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Congratulations President Obama from Italy

    November 7, 2012 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  25. Name Willie

    Obama is the finest,the greatest speaker of all times

    November 7, 2012 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
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