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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: John McCain Concedes Defeat in Phoenix
2008-11-05

Unchaining History: Barack Obama Elected President of the United States

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In an historic election, Barack Obama has become the forty-fourth president of the United States. The first-term senator from Illinois easily defeated John McCain on Tuesday, winning a larger share of the popular vote than any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Record voter turnout was reported across the country. As election results began pouring in last night, thousands of Obama supporters gathered in the streets from Los Angeles to Kenya, the birthplace of Obama’s father. We play an excerpt of Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, where hundreds of thousands of people packed in Grant Park and the surrounding neighborhood to hear his address. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: In an historic election, Barack Obama has become the forty-fourth president of the United States. The first-term senator from Illinois easily defeated John McCain Tuesday, winning a larger share of the popular vote than any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Barack Obama is set to become the first African American president in US history.

Record voter turnout was reported across the country. As election results began pouring in last night, hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters gathered in the streets from Los Angeles to Kenya, the birthplace of Obama’s father. The largest celebration took place in Chicago, where over 200,000 people packed Grant Park and the surrounding neighborhood to hear Obama deliver his victory speech.

    PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Chicago!

    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

    It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

    It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

    It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

    It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

    A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him, I congratulate Governor Palin, for all that they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

    I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

    And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

    I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington; it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to the cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy, who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the earth. This is your victory.

    And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election, and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctor’s bills or save enough for their child’s college education. There is new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

    The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we, as a people, will get there.

    CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

    PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years: block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Barack Obama, now President-elect Barack Obama, speaking last night in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, his hometown. Just before Barack Obama spoke, Senator John McCain gave his concession speech. We’ll go to that after this break.

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