February 19, 2009: Obama Signs the Economic Stimulus Bill into Law and his Canada Visit

President Obama

White House photo 2/18/09 by Pete Souza

Housing plan

On Feb. 18, 2009, President Obama announced his plan to help homeowners and stabilize the housing market. Learn more about how the plan might affect you.

Learn more



In Focus: Stats

  • Rasmussen’s daily polling: Job approval of Barack Obama continues to be high: most recently 60 percent approve and 39 percent disapprove.
    His disapproval numbers have risen, from 29 percent on January 22 and 23, up to a range of 37 percent-39 percent starting February 7. – US News & World Report, 2-19-09


The Headlines…

President Obama arrives in Canada

  • Obama Makes Overtures to Canada’s Leader: President Obama charted a delicate course with Canada on Thursday, using the first foreign trip of his presidency to ease tensions over trade policy, climate change and the war in Afghanistan — all the while basking in his celebrity status in a nation where his approval ratings are so high that a local bakery named a pastry after him. – NYT, 2-19-09
  • APNewsBreak: Black pastors to ask Burris to resign: A group of black ministers who previously supported U.S. Sen. Roland Burris now plan to ask for his resignation, one of the ministers told The Associated Press on Thursday. Many of the city’s influential black pastors supported Burris because of his scandal-free reputation — even though he was appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich after the governor was arrested. – AP, 2-19-09
  • Cheered in Canada, Obama treads lightly: President Barack Obama courted warmer relations with America’s snowy northern neighbor Thursday, declining to ask war-weary Canada to do more in Afghanistan, promising he won’t allow a protectionist creep into U.S. trade policy and talking reassuringly around thorny energy issues. – AP, 2-19-09
  • Obama’s Bipartisanship Is One Sappy Dream: Margaret Carlson: In his long and sometimes snarky campaign, John McCain took to ridiculing Barack Obama and his supporters for imputing messianic qualities to the upstart candidate, mockingly referring to the Democrat as “The One.” New evidence suggests McCain was on to something. In less than a month, Obama has breathed life back into a Republican Party the whole world took for dead…. – Bloomberg, 2-19-09
  • U.S. tells N. Korea to end insults, return to talks: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday told North Korea to stop being provocative and return to talks on ending efforts to build a nuclear arsenal. – AP, 2-19-09
  • Calif. lawmakers send Schwarzenegger budget bills: The California Legislature on Thursday approved a plan to close a $42 billion budget deficit after an epic impasse that involved several all-night sessions, sending Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a package of bills that raises taxes and cuts spending. It was not immediately clear when Schwarzenegger would sign the bills. – AP, 2-19-09
  • Clinton looks to boost US image in Asia: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton moved Wednesday to boost U.S. ties with the world’s most populous Muslim nation and its neighbors, pledging a new American willingness to work with and listen to Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia. – AP, 2-18-09
  • Stimulus Tour Takes Obama to New Blue States: A trend is emerging in President Obama’s out-of-the-gate travel itinerary: Top billing has been given to states that turned from red to blue in the fall. So far this year, Mr. Obama has visited Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Virginia and Colorado, states that usually voted Republican in presidential elections but that went Democratic in November. – NYT, 2-18-09
  • US commander: Troops ‘stalemated’ in Afghanistan: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan offered a grim view Wednesday of military efforts in southern Afghanistan, warning that 17,000 new troops will take on emboldened Taliban insurgents who have “stalemated” U.S. and allied forces. – AP, 2-18-09
  • Obama throws $75 billion lifeline to homeowners: President Barack Obama threw a $75 billion lifeline to millions of Americans on the brink of foreclosure Wednesday, declaring an urgent need for drastic action — not only to save their homes but to keep the housing crisis “from wreaking even greater havoc” on the broader national economy. – AP, 2-17-09
  • Obama signs stimulus bill, readies homeowner plan: Racing to reverse the country’s economic spiral, President Barack Obama signed the mammoth stimulus package into law Tuesday and readied a new $50 billion foreclosure rescue for legions of Americans who are in danger of losing their homes. – AP, 2-17-09
  • Signing Stimulus, Obama Doesn’t Rule Out More: President Obama has not ruled out a second stimulus package, his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said on Tuesday, just before Mr. Obama signed his $787 billion recovery package into law with a statement that it would “set our economy on a firmer foundation.” – NYT, 2-17-09
  • GOP governors consider turning down stimulus money: A handful of Republican governors are considering turning down some money from the federal stimulus package, a move opponents say puts conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents struggling with record foreclosures and soaring unemployment. –
  • How the heck could the census be controversial?: Still more analysts were certain it was a result of the 2010 census and who would have ultimate management responsiblities for it’s conduct. Normally the census is under the auspices of the Commerce Department, but the Obama Administration had signaled the upcoming census would be getting some added attention and oversight from the White House. Mr. Gregg denied the census was any big deal, though it didn’t discourage some from insisting the census was the raison d’etre for Gregg’s withdrawal. Examiner, 2-17-09

President Obama

White House photo 2/18/09 by Pete Souza

Housing plan

On Feb. 18, 2009, President Obama announced his plan to help homeowners and stabilize the housing market. Learn more about how the plan might affect you.

Learn more

President Obama signs the economic recovery bill into law

White House photo 2/17/09 by Pete Souza

A Strong Start

In Denver, CO, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law — a major milestone on the long road back to a sustainable economic future.

Read the President's remarks

President Obama and Sen. Kent Conrad in the Oval Office


Political Quotes

  • Hillary Clinton to reporters at a news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan: “North Korea is not going to get a different relationship with the United States while insulting and refusing dialogue with (South Korea). We are calling on the government of North Korea to refrain from being provocative and unhelpful in a war of words that it has been engaged in because that is not very fruitful. She said that was “in stark contrast to the tyranny and poverty across the border to the North” and commended the “people of South Korea and your leaders for your calm, resolve and determination in the face of provocative and unhelpful statements and actions by the North.”…. “The North should refrain from violating this resolution and also from any and all provocative actions that could harm the six-party talks and aggravate the tensions in the region.” – AP, 2-20-09
  • Bill Clinton “Honoring an old friend given the Lindy Boggs Award, which highlights the year’s Southern woman in politics”: “I want to bring you greetings from my favorite woman in politics who, as you all know, is secretary of state [and] is now in Japan doing the world’s work for America over there. I had a little bite of that apple last year, trying to convince people that women should be in higher executive positions. I learned something very interesting one more time about the process of social change and how the wheels of history grind slow or, as Martin Luther King said, the arc of history bends slowly, but it bends toward justice. Psychologically, we’re sometimes not even aware of how we feel about letting women make decisions that used to be made by men until we actually have to come up against it. I’ll tell you a very interesting thing in the state where Hillary ran best—next to Arkansas: West Virginia. She won the [state primary] election by 40 points, but in the exit polls, people were asked about Hillary and President Obama. ‘Does it bother you to have an African-American president?’ ‘Do you have any reservations about having a female president?’ Fifteen percent of West Virginians admitted that they had some qualms about having an African-American president; 21 percent said they had some qualms about having a female president. That’s in a state where she won by 40 points.” – US News & World Report, 2-19-09
  • Eric Holder U.S. a ‘nation of cowards’ on race, 1st black attorney general says Holder’s speech signals more active Justice Department on civil rights issues: “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said in a Black History Month speech to hundreds of Justice Department employees. “It is an issue we have never been at ease with, and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable,” Holder said. “And yet, if we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.” – Chicago Tribune, 2-19-09

President Obama signs the economic recovery bill into law

  • Barack Obama: Remarks by the President at Signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: “What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability…. And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. That is why we have created Recovery.gov – so every American can go online and see how their money is being spent…. Our American story is not — and has never been — about things coming easy. It’s about rising to the moment when the moment is hard, converting crisis into opportunity, and seeing to it that we emerge from whatever trials we face stronger than we were before.” – WH Blog, 2-17-09
  • Joe Biden: Remarks by the Vice President at Signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Last year — last year our economy lost 3 million jobs; 600,000 more just this last month. There are an awful lot of mothers and father who had to walk up those stairs to the bedroom of their children and tell them that, “I’m out of work, honey. We may not be able to stay here. You may not be able to stay in this school. It’s a tough, tough conversation. And many — too many times it’s already occurred in this country. We’re here today — we’re here today to start to turn that around…. Starting today, our administration will be working day and night to provide more aid for the unemployed, create immediate jobs, building our roads and our bridges, make long-term investments in a smarter energy grid, and so much more. And as we turn the economy around, we’ve got to make sure of one more thing. Last time an economic recovery occurred after a deep recession, the middle class got left behind — the middle class got left behind. And that’s why the President has set up a White House Council on the Task Force on the Middle Class, which he’s asking me to chair. – WH Blog, 2-17-09

President Obama


Historians’ and Analysts Comments

  • Gil Troy “It’s Time to Mobilize Obama’s Army for a Values Revolution”: The story of Barack Obama’s brilliant grassroots organizing as a candidate is now campaigning legend. But since Election Day, the “what do we do now” question has vexed Obama’s Army. Two million activists and an email list of thirteen million “slacktivists” constitute a potent political force. If Obama only uses these idealists as an amen corner, he will miss a chance to deliver the change he promised and millions seek. President Obama should mobilize his army of supporters to launch a mass movement fostering collective and individual responsibility….
    “Organizing for America” must be slicker and more profound, better identified as a force calling on Americans to serve their community while transforming all the good will Obama has generated – even after his rough week – into a transformational conversation about how we live our lives and do politics. The times demand more than the brass bands and blue eagles of the 1930s or the house meetings and mass emailings we have seen so far. If President Obama can get millions investing their time, energy and money into fulfilling his vision, with the same enthusiasm they invested into his campaign, his presidency will be monumental, with the occasional hiring lapses and concessions to Congressional pork upstaged by the renewed citizenship covenant he has so far romanticized but not yet designed. – HNN, 2-19-09
  • Julian Zelizer: “Obama places big bets in first month”: “The level of government intervention that we are seeing or at least is proposed is pretty significant and it is taking place in multiple parts of the economy,” said Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer. “The problem is if it doesn’t work, if the economy is worse (and not) better, this could be a big liability. That is the gamble.”… “It took (president George W.) Bush a little while to look like a president, until 9/11. He did not have that gravity until that famous speech with the firefighters,” said Zelizer. – AFP, 2-19-09
  • Gil Troy “The First 100 Days: George Washington Set the Standard for All Future Presidents”: Adds historian Gil Troy in Leading From the Center: “Washington was a muscular moderate, far shrewder than many acknowledged. Emotionally disciplined, philosophically faithful to an enlightened, democratic ’empire’ of reason, Washington passionately advocated political moderation. Acknowledging his own shortcomings as a human being, he tolerated and welcomed others’ views. He realized that others might reasonably reach different conclusions about important issues. Washington’s idea of democratic politics was to seek common ground and blaze a centrist trail.” – U.S. News & World Report, 2-19-09
  • Donald A. Ritchie “Senate not likely to oust Sen. Roland Burris anytime soon”: “It’s a collegial body that doesn’t like to police its members,” said Donald A. Ritchie, the Senate’s associate historian. “It prefers to leave that to the voters and to the courts.” – LAT, 2-19-09
  • Gil Troy “Canada’s best Presidents Relations with the U.S. still depend on how our leaders get along”: The interaction between Pierre Trudeau and Ronald Reagan makes an intriguing case study. At first glance, they seemed bound to clash. “There’s a great picture,” says Gil Troy, a history professor at McGill University and author of Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, “of Trudeau in an ascot, looking very European, and Reagan in a brown suit, looking sort of midwestern.” Yet he points out that Reagan writes favourably in his memoirs about his first meeting with Trudeau, recalling how they agreed on the need for a closer North American alliance, planting the seeds of the free trade deal Reagan eventually signed with Brian Mulroney.
    When there’s a clash between American and international interests, or course, presidents tend, like politicians everywhere, to play to the home crowd. In Obama’s case, that might eventually spell disappointment for his legions of admirers abroad, including Canadians. “At a certain point it is more important for him to be popular in Peoria than in Ottawa, let alone than in Europe,” says Troy. Macleans, 2-18-09
  • Douglas Brinkley “The President’s Tone”: “You see Obama sputtering a lot in January and February 2009,” historian Douglas Brinkley told ABC for Good Morning America today. “It”s his rhetoric that keeps saving him.” “It’s a kind of new federalism going on,” Brinkley says, “a new belief in government. But I do think it needs to be packaged a little bit better so it’s not just an argument of ‘what company should we bail out?'” – ABC News, 2-17-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Obama’s Economic Stimulus Bill Most Ambitious Since Roosevelt”: “No one’s going to have 100 days like Franklin Roosevelt again, with 15 major pieces of legislation,” said Allan Lichtman, a political history professor at American University in Washington. “But leaving aside that impossible comparison, Obama’s accomplishments stack up very well.” – – Bloomberg, 2-17-09
  • John Thompson “Obama’s Trip to Canada Could Yield Lessons in Banking, Health, Duke Professor Says”: “Canada’s banking system is doing really, really well,” said John Thompson, a professor of history and in Duke’s Center for Canadian Studies. “Canada hasn’t had a single bank failure, and the World Economic Forum ranks their banking system as the healthiest in the world. America’s is number 40. Canadians save at much higher rates than people in the U.S., and because they’re not allowed to deduct mortgage payments, they aren’t seeing overheated real estate markets,” said Thompson, author of “Canada and the United States: Ambivalent Allies. Canadians spend nine percent of their GDP on health care — compared to the U.S.’s 16 percent — and still get better results overall,” he said. “And because the system is national, you don’t have this problem of businesses losing their competitiveness due to huge health insurance costs. In foreign policy, Canada has been pretty wise, too. They’ve fought alongside the U.S. in every major modern war — except Iraq and Vietnam. That looks like pretty good judgment in hindsight. Of course, there’s not really a trend of U.S. presidents taking advice from Canadians. There’s a pretty good chance this visit will be no more than a photo op for a rock-star president before his adoring Canadian fans.” – AScribe (press release), 2-17-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Too much space: Romney selling Utah home”: Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, says it’s hard to believe that Romney, as wealthy as he is, needed to downgrade. “If it’s not financial, it’s not inconceivable the memories of the McCain issue may be on his mind,” Zelizer says. He may be downsizing, “so when he runs next time he doesn’t have four to five homes for his opponent or President Obama to talk about.” – Salt Lake Tribune, 2-16-09
  • James K. Glassman “Stimulus: A History of Folly”: Before he was sworn in as President, Barack Obama began to lay out his plans for reviving an American economy that, it would later be discovered, had declined 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, its worst performance in 26 years…. He anointed the stimulus proposal with a convenient and vivid metaphor. “We’re going to have to jump start this economy with my economic recovery plan,” he said on January 3. According to the image, one can jolt a dormant economy into action just as one can hook up polarized cables to a car battery, clamp a defibrillator to the chest, or breathe into the ear of a reluctant lover. Suddenly, the object of our attention will be back in action, aroused. Alas, the questions raised by a proposed stimulus—whether to apply it, what sort it should be, how much it should cost, and when it should begin and end—are far trickier to answer than problems involving dead batteries…. – Commentary, 3-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Stakes are huge for Obama and nation”: Last week, Obama told an audience in Florida that if his economic recovery plan does not work, “then you’ll have a new president.” Regardless of whether Obama meant that he would not run again or that he would be defeated, he referred to how much is at stake with the federal programs that were debated over the past two weeks. But Obama severely understated what is really at stake. Far more than his presidency is at risk. The $787 billion economic recovery legislation, combined with financial bailout likely to cost more than a trillion dollars, has opened up a huge debate in American politics over the role of the federal government in an economic crisis….
    The stimulus package and financial bailout will become the symbol to show why government intervention does not work in times of economic crisis. This, according to liberal economists, is the danger posed by the compromises that were made by the administration — both in asking for less than most economists think is necessary and then settling for an even lower figure in the negotiations. The effects of new policies on politics can be enormous. When Americans enjoyed economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s, liberals were able to point to the New Deal and subsequent federal programs as powerful evidence that government intervention can benefit the nation. When Americans enjoyed renewed economic growth during the middle of the 1980s and much of the 1990s, conservatives looked back toward Reagan’s 1981 tax cut as proof that lowering the tax burden had boosted the economy. Regardless of Obama’s future, it is likely that Americans will be talking about this economic recovery and financial bailout programs years from now as they reach conclusions about whether the government can lift this country out of an economic crisis. – CNN, 2-16-09

Democratic Convention Day 1: August 25, 2008

Day 1 Schedule

    Barack Obama’s story is an American story that reflects a life of struggle, opportunity and responsibility like those faced by Americans everyday. The opening night of the Convention will highlight Barack’s life story, his commitment to change, and the voices of Americans who are calling for a new direction for this country.

    Monday’s headline prime-time speaker was Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention (NYT)

Michelle Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention (NYT)

    Other Monday night speakers include: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Barack Obama’s sister Maya Soetero-Ng and Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s older brother; Jerry Kellman, mentor and long-time friend of Barack Obama; Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.; former Indiana Representative Lee Hamilton; Tom Balanoff, President of Illinois SEIU; Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America; NEA President Reg Weaver; AFT President Randi Weingarten; Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; State Comptroller Dan Hynes; Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis; Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle; and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Monday night also featured a tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and a speech by the senator. – DemConvention.com

Historians’ Comments

  • PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer: Historical Perspective A panel of historians, including NewsHour regulars Michael Beschloss and Richard Norton Smith, offers a historical perspective on this week’s Democratic event. – Mp3, RealAudio
  • Richard Reeves on “Kennedy passes the torch to Obama”: Others were wary of making too much the Kennedy-Obama link. The Kennedy magic was unique to its time, said Richard Reeves, author of a book on John Kennedy. The family legacy was in keeping with the spirit of the New Deal and grounded in the common generational experiences of the Great Depression and World War II. “Obama’s totally a new phenomenon,” Reeves said. “He represents totally different things.” – McClatchy Newspapers, 8-25-08
  • Thomas Whalen on “Ailing Kennedy refuses to miss big event”: “This may be Ted Kennedy’s final gift to the party,” said Thomas Whalen, a Boston University political historian who has written on the Kennedys. “This says that he feels this is the Democrats’ year and the party is not as unified as he’d like it to be. His appearance takes the headlines away from the Clinton faction.” “The greatest legacy Kennedy would want would be an Obama victory in November,” Whalen said. – USA Today, 8-26-08
  • Paula Giddings on “Michelle Obama as First Lady”: “People are trying to fit her somewhere in their minds and in this array of images we have in our culture about African-American women, as the vixen, or the mammy or the angry black woman,” said Paula Giddings, a black studies professor at Smith College. “But she doesn’t fit any of the molds so she is kind of unsettling to a lot of people. She is something new.” “Imagine seeing her in the White House. Just the picture of her on the lawn with her two girls,” Giddings said. “In deep ways and superficial ways, it would be a dramatic shift.” – Newsday, 8-25-08<
  • Myra Gutin on “Michelle Obama as First Lady”: “For some people she is supposed to represent a woman who is more traditional in her approach to the office of first lady and be somebody to do the requisite entertaining and look after her husband,” said Myra Gutin, a historian of first ladies. “But some feel like the first lady should be more of an activist in the model of Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton.” But Monday night, Gutin said, Michelle Obama must first address some of the negative feelings she has generated, and show that she will be a good first lady. – Newsday, 8-25-08<
  • Jim Lorence on “UWMC History Professor Says Biden a Good Pick for Obama’s Running Mate”: Monday NewsChannel 7 spoke to Professor Jim Lorence of the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County about the importance of picking the right running mate for a presidential campaign. He gave us some insight past vice presidential candidates have influenced elections. “The campaign in which the vice presidency did make a difference was in 1960 when Lyndon Johnson was on the Kennedy ticket, and Johnson brought Texas into the democratic column.” Presidential candidate Barack Obama has already chosen his running mate, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, who has six terms in the Senate and 35 years of political experience. “He [Biden] may make people feel more comfortable with Obama because he brings that foreign policy expertise to the ticket.” Presidential hopeful John McCain is expected to announce his running mate by the end of this week. Rumors are circulating that it will most likely be a McCain-Romney ticket. “I think that Romney’s expertise in the area of foreign policy, or at least his background in the private sector and in business and on economic issues is going to be an important factor in the selection of a vice president,” says Professor Lorence. – WSAW, WI, 8-25-08
  • Sean Wilentz on “Obama Hope of Audacity Means Race Isn’t About Losing Liberals”: Obama has shown an “enormous ability to arouse the intense admiration and affection of his base,” says Sean Wilentz, a history professor at Princeton University. “Exactly what he means by change, hope and transformation — all the sort of big-payoff words that appear in his speeches — he has yet to clearly define.” – Bloomberg, 8-25-08
  • Fred Siegel on “Obama’s ideological elusiveness”: Some critics voice skepticism. They see an ambitious fellow who remains intentionally undefined. “His philosophy is ambition,” said Fred Siegel, a historian at the Cooper Union in New York. “I see him as having a rhetoric rather than a philosophy.” Senator, what is your view of the Supreme Court decision barring the execution of child rapists? The question was standard fare for a politician who has questioned the equity of the death penalty. But Obama’s answer set reporters to typing furiously. “I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes,” he said. “I think the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime.” – International Herald Tribune, 8-25-08
  • Vermont Gov. Madeline Kunin: Former governor and historian to speak at the Democratic National Convention – PolitickerVT, 8-25-08
  • Julian E. Zelizer on “Conventions now even timed for strategy”: Political conventions are no longer the venues where presidential candidates are selected and introduced to the nation’s voters, said Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. That now happens during each party’s primary race, which begins early in the election year. “Basically conventions are now made for the media — carefully choreographed, staged events intended to promote the candidate and the party on the national stage as the real election season kicks off,” Zelizer said. “With their new function, it makes more sense to have them as close as possible to the general election.” – Daily Record, 8-24-08
  • Julian Zelizer on “Obama’s Pick Taking The Measure Of Joe Biden, The Longtime Senator And Democrats’ Choice For VP”: “The role of the attack dog is something he is quite comfortable with,” said Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. – CBS News, 8-24-08

The Speeches…

  • Barack Obama on the Campaign Trail in Iowa: “I can’t wait to hear Michelle’s speech, I will tell you that I did get a little preview of the video they did of her, and she was extraordinary.”
  • Nancy Pelosi:
    This week is the culmination of an historic race that has brought millions of voters to the polls–many voting for the first time. All Democrats salute Senator Hillary Clinton for her excellent campaign. Our party and our country are strengthened by her candidacy.

    Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives addressing the Democratic National Convention (CNN)

    Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives addressing the Democratic National Convention (CNN)

    We meet today at a defining moment in our history. America stands at a crossroads, with an historic choice between two paths for our country. One is a path of renewing opportunity and promoting innovation here at home, and of greater security and respect around the world. It is the path that renews our democracy by bringing us together as one nation under God. But there is another path–it leads us to the same broken promises and failed policies that have diminished the American dream and weakened the security of our nation.

    We call this convention to order tonight to put America on the path begun by our founders–a path that renews America’s promise for a new century. We call this convention to order to nominate a new leader for our time– Barack Obama–the next President of the United States. Two years ago, the American people set our nation in a new direction–electing a new Democratic majority in Congress committed to real change….

    Barack Obama’s dream is the American dream. He gives us renewed faith in a vision of the future that is free of the constraints of the tired policies of the past–a vision that is new and bold and calls forth the best in the American people.

    Barack Obama’s change is the change America needs. Whether in Illinois or in Washington, Barack Obama has bridged partisanship to bring about significant reform. Barack Obama knew that to change policy in Washington you had to change how Washington works.

    That means restoring integrity to government by reducing the influence of special interests. I saw firsthand his strong leadership on one of the toughest issues: enacting the toughest ethics reform legislation in the history of Congress. This was only possible with Barack Obama’s leadership…..

    One hundred and fifteen years ago, a young woman named Katharine Lee Bates visited Denver. From the top of Pike’s Peak, she looked across Colorado–to the bountiful golden prairies to the east and to the majestic mountains to the west. That night she returned to her hotel room, opened her notebook, and the words of “America the Beautiful” spilled from her pen. My favorite verse is the fourth: O beautiful, for patriot dream, that sees beyond the years…

    Today, Barack Obama is a 21st century patriot who sees beyond the years. As president, Barack Obama will renew the American dream; Barack Obama is the leader for America’s future.

    Inspired by that same vision of “America the Beautiful,” Democrats will leave this Denver convention, unified, organized, and stronger than ever to take America in a new direction with Barack Obama and Joe Biden as President and Vice President of the United States! – Download, PBS

  • Caroline Kennedy:I am here tonight to pay tribute to two men who have changed my life and the life of this country: Barack Obama and Edward M. Kennedy. Their stories are very different, but they share a commitment to the timeless American ideals of justice and fairness, service and sacrifice, faith and family.Leaders like them come along rarely. But once or twice in a lifetime, they come along just when we need them the most. This is one of those moments. As our nation faces a fundamental choice between moving forward or falling further behind, Senator Obama offers the change we need….I have never had someone inspire me the way people tell me my father inspired them, but I do now, Barack Obama. And I know someone else who’s been inspired all over again by Senator Obama. In our family, he’s known as Uncle Teddy. More than any senator of his generation, or perhaps any generation, Teddy has made life better for people in this country and around the world.For 46 years, he has been so much more than just a senator for the people of Massachusetts. He’s been a senator for all who believe in a dream that’s never died. If you’re no longer being denied a job because of your race, gender or disability, or if you’ve seen a rise in the minimum wage you’re being paid, Teddy is your senator too….

    He is a man who always insists that America live up to her highest ideals, who always fights for what he knows is right and who is always there for others. I’ve seen it in my own life. No matter how busy he is, he never fails to find time for those in pain, those in grief or those who just need a hug. In our family, he has never missed a first communion, a graduation, or a chance to walk one of his nieces down the aisle.

    He has a special relationship with each of us. And his 60 great nieces and nephews all know that the best cookies and the best laughs are always found at Uncle Teddy’s. Whether he is teaching us about sailing, about the Senate or about life, he has shown us how to chart our course, take the helm and sail against the wind. And this summer, as he faced yet another challenge, he and Vicki have taught us all about dignity, courage and the power of love.

                                                  In this campaign, Barack Obama has no greater champion. When he is president, he will have no stronger partner in the United States Senate. Now, it is my honor to introduce a tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. – Download, PBS

  • Senator Edward Kennedy: My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here.And nothing — nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.As I look ahead, I am strengthened by family and friendship. So many of you have been with me in the happiest days and the hardest days. Together we have known success and seen setbacks, victory and defeat.
    Senator Edward Kennedy addressing the Democration National Convention after a tribute given by his niece Caroline Kennedy

    Senator Edward Kennedy addressing the Democratic National Convention after a tribute given by his niece Caroline Kennedy

    But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you — I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate when we begin the great test.

    For me this is a season of hope — new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope.

    And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

    We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.

    Barack Obama will close the book on the old politics of race and gender and group against group and straight against gay.

    And Barack Obama will be a commander in chief who understands that young Americans in uniform must never be committed to a mistake, but always for a mission worthy of their bravery.

    We are told that Barack Obama believes too much in an America of high principle and bold endeavor, but when John Kennedy called of going to the moon, he didn’t say it’s too far to get there. We shouldn’t even try.

    Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge, and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon.

    Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And we can do it again.

    There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination — not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation.

  • And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.
  • Michelle Obama: … every step of the way since that clear day, February, 19 months ago, when, with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change, we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that has led us to this moment. But each of us comes here also by way of our own improbable journey.
    Michelle Obama rehersing her speech with younger daughter Sacha holding the convention gravel

    Michelle Obama rehersing her speech with younger daughter Sacha holding the convention gravel

    I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector, and my lifelong friend. And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.

    And I come here as a mom, as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world. They’re the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed at night. Their future — and all our children’s future — is my stake in this election.

    And I come here as a daughter, raised on the South Side of Chicago…

    And, you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that, even though he had this funny name, and even though he had grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine.

    He was raised by grandparents who were working-class folks just like my parents and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. And like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities that they never had for themselves.

    And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond; that you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.

    And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them onto the next generation, because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them…. And Barack stood up that day, and he spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “the world as it is” and “the world as it should be.” And he said that, all too often, we accept the distance between the two and we settle for the world as it is, even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations.
    But he reminded us that we also know what our world should like — look like. He said we know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves, to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?…

    … and the 45th anniversary — and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.

    And I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history, knowing that my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me, all of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work, the same conviction that drives the men and women I’ve met all across this country.

    People who work the day shift, they kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift, without disappointment, without regret, see, that goodnight kiss is a reminder of everything they’re working for.

    The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table.

    The servicemen…

    The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.

    The young people across America serving our communities, teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

    People like Hillary Clinton…

    … who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling so that our daughters and our sons can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

    People like Joe Biden…

    … who has never forgotten where he came from and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

    All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

    And that is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.

    And, you see, that is why I love this country….

    It’s what he’s done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure that the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs, and benefits, and health care, including mental health care.

    See, that’s why Barack’s running: to end the war in Iraq responsibly…

    … to build an economy that lifts every family, to make sure health care is available for every American, and to make sure that every single child in this nation has a world-class education all the way from preschool to college.

    That’s what Barack Obama will do as president of the United States of America….

    … millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams, millions of Americans who know that Barack will fight for people like them, and that Barack will bring finally the change that we need.

    And in the end, and in the end, after all that’s happened these past 19 months, see, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago.

    He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital 10 years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering at us anxiously at — through the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her something he never had, the affirming embrace of a father’s love….

    … how this time — how this time we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming…

    … how this time, in this great country, where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House…

    … that we committed ourselves…

    … we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

    So tonight, in honor of my father’s memory and my daughters’ future, out of gratitude for those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment, let us devote ourselves to finishing their work, let us work together to fulfill their hopes, and let’s stand together to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America.

    Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.

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