What a year we Democrats have had. The primary began with an all-star line up and came down to two remarkable Americans locked in a hard fought contest to the very end. The campaign generated so much heat it increased global warming.
In the end, my candidate didn’t win. But I’m very proud of the campaign she ran: she never quit on the people she stood up for, on the changes she pushed for, on the future she wants for all our children. And I’m grateful for the chance Chelsea and I had to tell Americans about the person we know and love.
I’m not so grateful for the chance to speak in the wake of her magnificent address last night. But I’ll do my best.
Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she’ll do everything she can to elect Barack Obama.
That makes two of us.
Actually that makes 18 million of us – because, like Hillary, I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.
Our nation is in trouble on two fronts: The American Dream is under siege at home, and America’s leadership in the world has been weakened.
Middle class and low-income Americans are hurting, with incomes declining; job losses, poverty and inequality rising; mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt increasing; health care coverage disappearing; and a big spike in the cost of food, utilities, and gasoline.
Our position in the world has been weakened by too much unilateralism and too little cooperation; a perilous dependence on imported oil; a refusal to lead on global warming; a growing indebtedness and a dependence on foreign lenders; a severely burdened military; a backsliding on global non-proliferation and arms control agreements; and a failure to consistently use the power of diplomacy, from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America to Central and Eastern Europe.
Clearly, the job of the next President is to rebuild the American Dream and restore America’s standing in the world.
Everything I learned in my eight years as President and in the work I’ve done since, in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job.
He has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose. He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful President needs. His policies on the economy, taxes, health care and energy are far superior to the Republican alternatives. He has shown a clear grasp of our foreign policy and national security challenges, and a firm commitment to repair our badly strained military. His family heritage and life experiences have given him a unique capacity to lead our increasingly diverse nation and to restore our leadership in an ever more interdependent world. The long, hard primary tested and strengthened him. And in his first presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he hit it out of the park.
With Joe Biden’s experience and wisdom, supporting Barack Obama’s proven understanding, insight, and good instincts, America will have the national security leadership we need.
Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world. Ready to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States.
He will work for an America with more partners and fewer adversaries. He will rebuild our frayed alliances and revitalize the international institutions which help to share the costs of the world’s problems and to leverage our power and influence. He will put us back in the forefront of the world’s fight to reduce nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and to stop global warming. He will continue and enhance our nation’s global leadership in an area in which I am deeply involved, the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria, including a renewal of the battle against HIV/AIDS here at home. He will choose diplomacy first and military force as a last resort. But in a world troubled by terror; by trafficking in weapons, drugs and people; by human rights abuses; by other threats to our security, our interests, and our values, when he cannot convert adversaries into partners, he will stand up to them.
Barack Obama also will not allow the world’s problems to obscure its opportunities. Everywhere, in rich and poor countries alike, hardworking people need good jobs; secure, affordable healthcare, food, and energy; quality education for their children; and economically beneficial ways to fight global warming. These challenges cry out for American ideas and American innovation. When Barack Obama unleashes them, America will save lives, win new allies, open new markets, and create new jobs for our people.
Most important, Barack Obama knows that America cannot be strong abroad unless we are strong at home. People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.
Look at the example the Republicans have set: American workers have given us consistently rising productivity. They’ve worked harder and produced more. What did they get in return? Declining wages, less than ¼ as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller health care and pension benefits, rising poverty and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s. American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage. I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other severe conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn’t afford health care and couldn’t qualify their kids for Medicaid unless they quit work or got a divorce. Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of? What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by unprecedented multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and the unlimited favors for the well connected? What about Katrina and cronyism?
America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will.
But first we have to elect him.
The choice is clear. The Republicans will nominate a good man who served our country heroically and suffered terribly in Vietnam. He loves our country every bit as much as we all do. As a Senator, he has shown his independence on several issues. But on the two great questions of this election, how to rebuild the American Dream and how to restore America’s leadership in the world, he still embraces the extreme philosophy which has defined his party for more than 25 years, a philosophy we never had a real chance to see in action until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and Congress. Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades were implemented.
They took us from record surpluses to an exploding national debt; from over 22 million new jobs down to 5 million; from an increase in working family incomes of $7,500 to a decline of more than $2,000; from almost 8 million Americans moving out of poverty to more than 5 and a half million falling into poverty – and millions more losing their health insurance.
Now, in spite of all the evidence, their candidate is promising more of the same: More tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality, and weaken the economy. More band-aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families and increase the number of uninsured. More going it alone in the world, instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence.
They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. Let’s send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America: Thanks, but no thanks. In this case, the third time is not the charm.
My fellow Democrats, sixteen years ago, you gave me the profound honor to lead our party to victory and to lead our nation to a new era of peace and broadly shared prosperity.
Together, we prevailed in a campaign in which the Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be Commander-in-Chief. Sound familiar? It didn’t work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it won’t work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history.
His life is a 21st Century incarnation of the American Dream. His achievements are proof of our continuing progress toward the “more perfect union” of our founders’ dreams. The values of freedom and equal opportunity which have given him his historic chance will drive him as president to give all Americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability, their chance to build a decent life, and to show our humanity, as well as our strength, to the world.
We see that humanity, that strength, and our future in Barack and Michelle Obama and their beautiful children. We see them reinforced by the partnership with Joe Biden, his wife Jill, a dedicated teacher, and their family.
Barack Obama will lead us away from division and fear of the last eight years back to unity and hope. If, like me, you still believe America must always be a place called Hope, then join Hillary, Chelsea and me in making Senator Barack Obama the next President of the United States.