Obama Defines Matchup with McCain as Domestic versus Foreign Policy
After fifty four contests, Barack Obama was finally able to say in St. Paul, MN, “Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States,” Obama said. He also used much of his speech to paint a sharp contrast between himself and John McCain.
Obama was very generous toward Hillary Clinton, Our party and our country is better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Obama also called her essential to a Democratic victory in November.
He transitioned into talking about his Republican opponent by saying that people know that we can’t keep doing what we have been doing. Obama said, “We honor the service of John McCain, and I respect his accomplishments even if he chooses to deny mine.” Interestingly, Obama had been talking about what change is, but tonight he focused on what change isn’t.
“It’s not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year. It’s not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs. … And it’s not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave young men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians,” Obama said.
Obama said that change is realizing that meeting today’s threats doesn’t just require our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy. He said we must have the courage to lead the free world again. He also addressed the Iraq trip issue, “John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy – cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota – he’d understand the kind of change that people are looking for.”
He also appealed to the good in America, “In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.”
This was a powerful speech that laid out the contrasts between Obama and McCain not only in policy terms, but also in attitude and optimism. McCain can try to dress himself up as a man of change, but Obama connects emotionally with voters, and more importantly brings a sense of optimism back to Americans who have been beaten down by the fear and deception of the Bush administration. Obama has already tapped into the collective political mood of the country, and I don’t think McCain will be able to compete with a man of such immense talents.
Text of Obama’s speech: