Barack Obama (D-IL)
Iowa Caucus Night Rally
Des Moines, IA
Jan. 3, 2008
[As Prepared for Delivery]
Thank you, Iowa.
You know, they said this day would never come.
They said our sights were set too high.
They said this country was too divided; too disillusioned to ever come
together around a common purpose.
But on this January night - at this defining moment in history -
you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do. You have done what
the state of New Hampshire can do in five days. You have done what
America can do in this New Year, 2008. In lines that stretched around
schools and churches; in small towns and big cities; you came together
as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to stand up and say that we
are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come.
You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and
pettiness and anger that's consumed Washington; to end the political
strategy that's been all about division and instead make it about
addition - to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red
States and Blue States. Because that's how we'll win in November, and
that's how we'll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation.
We are choosing hope over fear. We're choosing unity over division,
and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.
You said the time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their
money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don't
own this government, we do; and we are here to take it back.
The time has come for a President who will be honest about the
choices and the challenges we face; who will listen to you and learn
from you even when we disagree; who won't just tell you what you want
to hear, but what you need to know. And in New Hampshire, if you give
me the same chance that Iowa did tonight, I will be that president for
I'll be a President who finally makes health care affordable and
available to every single American the same way I expanded health care
in Illinois - by--by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to get
the job done.
I'll be a President who ends the tax breaks for companies that ship
our jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of
the working Americans who deserve it.
I'll be a President who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers and
scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of
oil once and for all.
And I'll be a President who ends this war in Iraq and finally
brings our troops home; who restores our moral standing; who
understands that 9/11 is not a way to scare up votes, but a challenge
that should unite America and the world against the common threats of
the twenty-first century; common threats of terrorism and nuclear
weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.
Tonight, we are one step closer to that vision of America because
of what you did here in Iowa. And so I'd especially like to thank the
organizers and the precinct captains; the volunteers and the staff who
made this all possible.
And while I'm at it, on "thank yous," I think it makes sense for me
to thank the love of my life, the rock of the Obama family, the closer
on the campaign trail; give it up for Michelle Obama.
I know you didn't do this for me. You did this-you did this because
you believed so deeply in the most American of ideas - that in the face
of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.
I know this-I know this because while I may be standing here
tonight, I'll never forget that my journey began on the streets of
Chicago doing what so many of you have done for this campaign and all
the campaigns here in Iowa - organizing, and working, and fighting to
make people's lives just a little bit better.
I know how hard it is. It comes with little sleep, little pay, and
a lot of sacrifice. There are days of disappointment, but sometimes,
just sometimes, there are nights like this - a night-a night that,
years from now, when we've made the changes we believe in; when more
families can afford to see a doctor; when our children-when Malia and
Sasha and your children-inherit a planet that's a little cleaner and
safer; when the world sees America differently, and America sees itself
as a nation less divided and more united; you'll be able to look back
with pride and say that this was the moment when it all began.
This was the moment when the improbable beat what Washington always
said was inevitable.
This was the moment when we tore down barriers that have divided us
for too long - when we rallied people of all parties and ages to a
common cause; when we finally gave Americans who'd never participated
in politics a reason to stand up and to do so.
This was the moment when we finally beat back the politics of fear,
and doubt, and cynicism; the politics where we tear each other down
instead of lifting this country up. This was the moment.
Years from now, you'll look back and you'll say that this was the
moment - this was the place - where America remembered what it means to
For many months, we've been teased, even derided for talking about
But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It's not
ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in
our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight.
Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the
contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to
reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.
Hope is what I saw in the eyes of the young woman in Cedar Rapids
who works the night shift after a full day of college and still can't
afford health care for a sister who's ill; a young woman who still
believes that this country will give her the chance to live out her
Hope is what I heard in the voice of the New Hampshire woman who
told me that she hasn't been able to breathe since her nephew left for
Iraq; who still goes to bed each night praying for his safe return.
Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire;
what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a
nation; what led young women and young men to sit at lunch counters and
brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom's
Hope-hope-is what led me here today - with a father from Kenya; a
mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United
States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that
our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and
women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have
the courage to remake the world as it should be.
That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we
can now carry to New Hampshire and beyond; the same message we had when
we were up and when we were down; the one that can change this country
brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand - that
together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are
not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United
States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready
to believe again. Thank you, Iowa.