Official Announcement of Candidacy for US President
Delivered 10 February 2007, Springfield, Illinois
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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Hello Springfield! ...Look at all of you. Look at all of you. Goodness. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Giving all praise and honor to God for bringing us here today. Thank you so much. I am -- I am so grateful to see all of you. You guys are still cheering back there? [to audience on left.]
Let me -- Let me begin by saying thanks to all you who've
traveled, from far and wide, to brave the cold today. I know it's a little
chilly -- but I'm fired up.
That's the journey we're on today. But let me tell you how I came to be here. As most of you know, I'm not a native of this great state. I -- I moved to Illinois over two decades ago. I was a young man then, just a year out of college. I knew no one in Chicago when I arrived, was without money or family connections. But a group of churches had offered me a job as a community organizer for the grand sum of 13,000 dollars a year. And I accepted the job, sight unseen, motivated then by a single, simple, powerful idea: that I might play a small part in building a better America.
My work took me to some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods. I joined with pastors and lay-people to deal with communities that had been ravaged by plant closings. I saw that the problems people faced weren't simply local in nature, that the decisions to close a steel mill was made by distant executives, that the lack of textbooks and computers in a school could be traced to skewed priorities of politicians a thousand miles away, and that when a child turns to violence -- I came to realize that -- there's a hole in that boy's heart that no government alone can fill.
It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education
that I ever had, and
where I learned the meaning of my Christian faith.
Now -- Now, listen, I -- I... -- thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. [to audience chanting "Obama"]
Look, I -- I...recognize that there is a certain presumptuousness
in this, a certain audacity, to this
announcement. I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of
Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington
We've done this before: Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more, and it is time for our generation to answer that call. For that is our unyielding faith -- that in -- in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.
That's what Abraham Lincoln understood. He had his doubts. He had his defeats.
He had his skeptics. He had his setbacks. But through his will and his words, he moved a nation and
helped free a people. It's because of the millions who rallied to his cause
that we're no longer divided, North and South, slave and free. It's because
men and women of every race, from every walk of life, continued to march for
freedom long after Lincoln was laid to rest, that today we have the chance to
face the challenges of this millennium together, as one people -- as Americans.
For the past six years we've been told that our mounting debts don't matter.
We've been told that the anxiety Americans feel about rising health care costs
and stagnant wages are an illusion. We've been told that climate change is a
hoax. We've been told that tough talk and an ill-conceived war can replace diplomacy, and
strategy, and foresight. And when all else fails, when
Katrina happens, or the
death toll in Iraq mounts, we've been told that our crises are somebody else's
fault. We're distracted from our real failures, and told to blame the other
Party, or gay people, or immigrants.
Now look --
[Audience chants "Obama...Obama...Obama"]
Okay. Alright. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
So let us begin. Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation. Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let's set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let's recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America. We can do that.
And as our economy changes, let's be the generation that ensures our nation's
workers are sharing in our prosperity. Let's protect the hard-earned benefits
their companies have promised. Let's make it possible for hardworking Americans
to save for retirement. Let's allow our unions and their organizers to lift
up this country's middle-class again. We can do that.
Let's be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil. We can harness homegrown, alternative fuels like ethanol and spur the production of more fuel-efficient cars. We can set up a system for capping greenhouse gases. We can turn this crisis of global warming into a moment of opportunity for innovation, and job creation, and an incentive for businesses that will serve as a model for the world. Let's be the generation that makes future generations proud of what we did here.
Most of all, let's be the generation that never forgets what happened on that September day and confront the terrorists with everything we've got. Politics doesn't have to divide us on this anymore; we can work together to keep our country safe. I've worked with the Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law that will secure and destroy some of the world's deadliest weapons. We can work together to track down terrorists with a stronger military. We can tighten the net around their finances. We can improve our intelligence capabilities and finally get homeland security right. But let's also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will only come by rebuilding our alliances and exporting those ideals that bring hope and opportunity to millions of people around the globe.
We can do those things.
But all of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq.
Most of you know -- Most of you know that I opposed this war from the start. I thought it was a tragic
mistake. Today we grieve for the families who have lost loved ones, the hearts
that have been broken, and the young lives that could have been. America, it is
time to start bringing our troops home. It's time -- It's time to admit that no amount of
American lives can resolve the political disagreement that lies at the heart of
someone else's civil war. That's why I have a plan that will bring our combat
troops home by March of 2008. Let the Iraqis know -- Letting the Iraqis know that we will not be there
forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the
table and find peace.
I know there are those who don't believe we can do all these things. I
understand the skepticism. After all, every four years, candidates from both
Parties make similar promises, and I expect this year will be no different. All
of us running for President will travel around the country offering ten-point
plans and making grand speeches; all of us will trumpet those qualities we
believe make us uniquely qualified to lead this country. But too many times,
after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises
fade from memory, and the lobbyists and special interests move in, and
people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.
He tells us that there is power in words.
He tells us that there's power in conviction.
Together we can finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.
Thank you very much everybody -- let's get to work! I love you. Thank you.
¹Abraham Lincoln, A House Divided
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