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Campaign Rally With Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), Democratic Presidential Nominee

Location: Charlotte, NC


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SEN. OBAMA: Thank you, North Carolina! (Cheers, applause.) Thank you, Charlotte! (Cheers, applause.)

What an amazing crowd on an amazing night! I know it's a little drizzly and you've been standing here and getting wet. (Cheers, applause.)

I am so grateful to all of you! I want to thank UNC-Charlotte. Thank you, guys, for all that you do! (Cheers, applause.) I want to thank North Carolina's next governor, Lieutenant Governor Beth Perdue! (Cheers, applause.) I want to thank the next United States Senator from North Carolina, State Senator Kay Hagan. (Cheers, applause.)

All of the statewide Democratic Party Council of State Candidates, two leaders locally who've been incredibly helpful: Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess and Councilman Anthony Fox. And I'm deeply honored to have a great North Carolinian and supporter, NASCAR pioneer, Junior Johnson! Give it up for Junior! (Cheers, applause.)

You know, obviously, this is a little bit of a bittersweet time for me. We have had a remarkable campaign. And you know, when we started 21 months ago, I didn't know how it would turn out. And no matter what happens tomorrow, I'm going to feel good about how it's turned out, because all of you have created this incredible campaign! (Cheers, applause.)

Some of you heard that my grandmother, who helped raise me, passed away early this morning. And look, she has gone home.


SEN. OBAMA: And she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side. And so there's great joy, as well as tears.

I'm not going to talk about it too long, but it's hard a little to talk about. I want everybody to know, though, a little bit about her. Her name was Madelyn Dunham. And she was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922, which means that she lived through the Great Depression. She lived through two World Wars. She watched her husband go off to war while she looked after a baby and worked on a bomber assembly line.

When her husband came back, they benefitted from the G.I. Bill and they moved West and eventually ended up in Hawaii. And she was somebody who was a very humble and a very plainspoken person. She was one of those uiet heroes that we have all across America who, they're not famous; their names aren't in the newspapers; but each and every day, they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They aren't seeking the limelight. All they try to do is just do the right thing.

And in this crowd, there are a lot of uiet heroes like that: mothers and fathers and grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives. And the satisfaction that they get is seeing that their children and maybe their grandchildren or their great grandchildren live a better life than they did. That's what America's about! That's what we're fighting for.

And North Carolina, in just one more day -- in just one more day -- we have the opportunity to honor all those uiet heroes all across America and all across North Carolina! We can bring change to America to make sure that their work and their sacrifice is honored! That's what we're fighting for! (Cheers, applause.)

After decades of broken politics in Washington, after eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush -- (boos) -- you don't need to boo! You just need -- you just need to vote! (Cheers, applause.)

After 21 months of a campaign that has taken us from the rocky coasts of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are one day away from changing America -- (cheers, applause) -- one day! (Cheers, applause.)

Tomorrow, you can turn the page on the policies that put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks -- of men and women all across Main Street! Tomorrow, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class and create new jobs and grow this economy so that everybody has a chance to succeed from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor; from the factory owner, to the men and women who work on the factory floor.

Tomorrow, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region or city against town; Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope! (Cheers, applause.)

Tomorrow, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change that we need! (Cheers, applause.) You can do this right here in North Carolina!

AUDIENCE: (Chanting.) Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

SEN. OBAMA: We began this journey in the depths of winter nearly two years ago on the steps of the Old State Capital in Springfield, Illinois. And back then we didn't have a lot of money and we didn't have many endorsements. We weren't given much of a chance by the polls or by the pundits. We knew how steep our climb would be.

But I also knew that the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics! I believed that Democrats and Republicans -- Americans of every political stripe -- they were hungry for new ideas and new leadership. A new kind of politics: one that favors commonsense over ideology -- what my grandmother would call "just being sensible" -- one that focuses on those values and ideals that we hold in common as Americans! (Cheers, applause.)

And most of all, I knew the American people were decent and generous people willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations. And I was convinced that when we come together, our voices are more powerful than the most entrenched lobbyists or the most vicious political attacks or the full force of the status uo in Washington that just wants to keep things the way they are! (Cheers, applause.)

Twenty-one months later, my faith in the American people's been vindicated! That's how we've come so far and come so close -- because of you! That's how we'll change this country -- with your help! (Cheers, applause.)

And that's why in these last 24 hours, we can't afford to slow down or sit back or let up -- not one hour, not one minute, not one second! (Cheers, applause.) Not now, not when we've got so much at stake! (Cheers, applause.) We've not an election to win, North Carolina! (Cheers, applause.)

We are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Seven-hundred-and-sixty thousand workers have lost their jobs this year. Businesses and families can't get credit. Home values are falling, foreclosures are rising. Pensions are disappearing. It's gotten harder and harder to make your mortgage or fill up the gas tank or pay your bills at the end of the month. Young people here are wondering what their future holds -- whether they're going to be able to match the life that their parents built for themselves.

At this moment, the last thing we can afford is four more years of the tired, worn out economic theories that say we just give more and more money to billionaires and millionaires -- the big corporations -- and hope that somehow prosperity trickles down on everyone else. (Boos.)

The last thing we can afford is a theory that says we should strip away all regulation in our financial markets and our health care system when we know that that's exactly what helped get us into this mess. Those are the theories that haven't worked. It is time for change! (Cheers, applause.) And North Carolina, that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.) And that's what we're going to bring tomorrow! (Cheers, applause.


Now --

AUDIENCE: (Chanting.) Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

SEN. OBAMA: Now, I want to say, first of all, Senator McCain and his wife, Cindy McCain, issued a statement offering their condolences and they were extraordinarily gracious. I want to thank them for that -- just as I want to thank everybody else who's been praying for us and supporting our family during this difficult time.

And it's incredibly gracious of Senator McCain and it's an example of the fact that Senator McCain has continued to serve his country honorably. And he can point to occasions where over the last eight years he's broke with George Bush -- on torture, for example -- he deserves enormous credit for that. He's a genuine American hero.

But when it comes to the economy; when it comes to the central issue of this election, the truth is that John McCain has stood with President Bush every step of the way! He's voted for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that he opposed. He voted for the Bush budgets that brought us from surplus into debt. He supported deregulation. Twenty-one times this year he said that deregulation was a part of the answer. Those are the facts!

So after 21 months and three debates, Senator McCain still hasn't explained to the American people a single major thing he'd do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy. It's not because he's a bad man, but it's because he doesn't understand what's taking place right now in America. (Cheers.)

I think when he said, about seven weeks ago, that after more than 5,000 jobs had been lost and more than 7,000 homes were foreclosed on, when he then said that the fundamentals of the economy were sound, you had a sense that he wasn't paying attention to what was going on here in Charlotte, what was happening here in North Carolina! (Cheers.)

But you and I know that there is something fundamentally wrong with our economy. That the on-your-own, out-of-touch economic philosophy has not worked. A philosophy that says we should give $700,000 tax cuts to the average Fortune 500 CEO; $300 billion in tax cuts to the same Wall Street banks that got us into this mess; $200 billion to corporations -- including $4 billion to the oil companies after they just made another uarter of record profits -- while leaving 100 million middleclass Americans without any tax relief whatsoever -- that's not change!

That's a philosophy that hasn't worked and I will end it when I'm president of the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)

Understand, we tried it John McCain's way!

AUDIENCE: That's right!

SEN. OBAMA: We have tried it George Bush's way. Deep down, Senator McCain's campaign understands that, which is why he said that if we keep on talking about the economy, we're going to lose. That's why I keep on talking about the economy! (Cheers, applause.)

Instead what we've gotten is distractions. And they've called me everything but a child of God. (Cheers.) But you know, but that's the habit that we get into in Washington. And all of us are guilty of it sometimes. Even Democrats can fall into this trap where if you don't think you can win on your ideas, then you try to make big elections about small things.

And we may see a little bit of that over the next 24 hours, but we have a chance to put an end to it in this campaign -- not just in this election, but for good! Because the one thing we know that is stronger than negative politics is the will and the determination, the hope of the American people! (Cheers, applause.) That's what you're showing me here, North Carolina! That's what we're showing the American people all across the country! That's how we're going to win this election in 24 hours! (Cheers, applause.)

AUDIENCE: (Chanting.) Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

SEN. OBAMA: North Carolina, we can prove we are more than a collection of states or a collection of individuals. We are a union! Not perfect, but we can work to perfect it. That's who we are and that's the country we need to be right now.

I know these are difficult times, but I know we have faced difficult times before. The American story's never been about things coming easy. It's been about rising to the moment when the moment was hard.

It's about rejecting fear and division for unity of purpose. That's how we overcame those wars and great depressions. That's how we won the great struggles for civil rights and women's rights and workers' rights! (Cheers, applause.) That's how we will write the next great chapter in the American story! (Cheers, applause.) And it can start in 24 hours if you are ready! (Cheers, applause.)

If we want to meet the challenges of this moment, we need to go beyond the old debates -- the divides between left and right. We don't need bigger government or smaller government. We need better government!

AUDIENCE: That's right!

SEN. OBAMA: A more competent government. A government that is fighting for you!

The choice isn't between tax cuts and no tax cut. John McCain and I both want to give tax cuts. The uestion is, who do we give it to? See, I don't think we should just reward wealth. I think we've got to reward work! (Cheers, applause.) And that's why I'm going to give a tax break to 95 percent of Americans who work every day, get taxes taken out of their paycheck every single week! (Cheers, applause.)

I'll pay for it by asking folks who are making more than a uarter-million-dollars a year to go back to the tax rate they were paying back in the 1990s. (Cheers, applause.)

Let me see a show of hands: How many people are making less than a uarter-million-dollars a year? (Cheers, applause.) All right -- all of you, which includes 98 percent of small businesspersons and 99.9 percent of plumbers, all of you won't see you taxes go up a single dime! (Cheers, applause.) Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains tax -- no tax! (Cheers, applause.) The last thing we should do is put a bigger burden on you.

We do need to create jobs. (Cheers.) And the choice in this election is not between putting up a wall around America or standing by and doing nothing. The truth is, we won't be able to bring back every job that we've lost. Manufacturing's changed; we've got global competition. But that doesn't mean we just keep on promoting unfair trade agreements. It doesn't mean we keep on giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. I will end those tax breaks! We'll give tax breaks to companies that invest right here in Charlotte, right here in North Carolina, right here in the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)

We can build -- we can create 2 million new jobs rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools, laying broadband lines so that we can locate companies in rural communities, create a new electricity grid to get renewable energy to places where it's most needed. I'll invest $15 billion a year in renewable energy: in wind power, in solar power, the next generation of biofuels; invest in clean coal technology! We'll make the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow not in Japan, not in South Korea but right here in the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)

We can create jobs that pay well. Jobs that can't be outsourced.

When it comes to health care, we don't have to choose between a government-run health care system and the unaffordable one we have now.

Look, if you already have health insurance, you can keep your plan and keep your doctor. We're just going to work to lower your premiums -- (cheers, applause).

If you don't have heath insurance, if you're under 25, we're going to let you be on your parent's health insurance until you get a job with health insurance! (Cheers, applause.) If you're over 25, we're going to let you buy into the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress give themselves! (Cheers, applause.)

And as somebody who watched his own mother spend the final months of her life arguing with insurance companies who said that maybe her illness was a preexisting condition and they might not want to pay for the treatment -- I know what it's like to see a loved one suffer, not just because they're sick, but because of a broken health care system. It is wrong; it will change! We are going to put an end to the discrimination by insurance companies -- when I am president of the United States of America -- against people who are sick and need care the most! (Cheers, applause.)

When it comes to giving every child a world-class education, the choice is not between more money and more reform. Our schools need both! Our children need both.

We're going to invest in early childhood education. We'll recruit an army of new teachers.

We're going to pay all our teachers higher salaries, give them more support, raise standards, increase accountability! (Cheers, applause.)

And to the young people who are here tonight -- (cheers, applause) -- thinking about how to finance their college educations, I make this commitment to you: If you participate in national service, we will make sure you can afford to go to college no ifs, ands or buts! (Cheers, applause.) That's my commitment to you! (Cheers, applause.)

When it comes to keeping this country safe, we don't have to choose between retreating from the world and fighting a war in Ira without end. It's time to stop spending $10 billion a month in Ira while the Ira i government sits on huge surpluses. Understand me, North Carolina, as president I will end this war! (Cheers, applause.)

I will ask the Ira i government to step up for their future! I will finally finish the fight against bin Laden and al aeda -- those who killed 3,000 Americans! (Cheers, applause.)

I will never hesitate to defend this nation! And I will make sure that our servicemen and women have the best training and e uipment when they deploy into combat, and the care and benefits they have earned when they come home! That's what we owe our veterans! (Cheers, applause.) No more homeless veterans! No more begging for disability payments. That's my commitment as president! (Cheers, applause.)

AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama!

SEN. OBAMA: Now, I won't stand here and pretend that any of this is going to be easy -- especially not now. We've dug a deep hole for ourselves. It's going to take a long time to dig ourselves out.

The cost of this economic crisis, the war in Ira , means Washington's going to have to do the same thing that families and businesses have to do. They've got to tighten their belt. We're going to have to put off spending on things we don't need -- even if they're nice to have.

We'll go through the federal budget line by line. We'll end programs that we don't need. And we'll make the ones that we do need work better and cost less!

But as I've said from the day we began this campaign, the change we need won't come from government alone. It's going to come from each of us doing our parts in our own lives in our own communities. We're all going to have to look out for ourselves and our families, but also our fellow citizens.

You know, government can help lead the way on energy independence, but each of us can make our own homes and businesses more energy efficient. I'm going to make sure that we can put more money into ours schools, but government can't be that parent who turns off the TV set, makes your child do their homework! (Cheers, applause.) That's the responsibility of parents and we've got to have parents for providing the love and guidance their children need.

We need a return to responsibility and a return to civility! You know, we can argue and debate our positions passionately, but all of us have to summon the strength and grace to bridge our differences, to unite in common effort -- black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American; Democrat, Republican; young, old; rich, poor; gay, straight; disabled, not disabled -- (cheers, applause) -- all of us have a role to play! All of us are in this together! (Cheers, and applause.)

We can't afford the same political games and the old tactics that pit us against one other, make us afraid of each other.

Despite what some people may claim, there are no real or fake parts of this country! (Cheers, applause.) There's no city or town that is more pro-America than anywhere else! (Cheers, applause.) We are one nation! All of us proud; all of us patriots! (Cheers, applause.)

The men and women who serve on our battlefields -- they're Democrats and Republicans! They fought together and bled together! Some of them died together under the same proud flag! They've not served a red America or a blue America! They've served the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.) That's what this election's about! (Cheers, applause.)

It won't be easy; it won't be uick, but you and I can feel it! You know it's time for change! (Cheers.) Some of you may have started this thing cynical and maybe fed up with politics. You have every right to be.

But despite all of this, I've asked of you throughout this campaign; I ask of you tonight what's been asked of Americans throughout our history: I ask you to believe, not just in my ability to bring about change, but in yours! I know that this change is possible! I've seen it over the last 21 months. In this campaign, I've had the privilege to witness what is best in America!

I've seen it in the countless faces of men and women across this country. Men and women who share their stories. They talk of their struggles, but also their hopes and their dreams.

I remember an e-mail I got from a woman named Robyn in Fort Lauderdale. She had come to one of our rallies. Sometime after the event, her son nearly went into cardiac arrest -- he was in high school. He was diagnosed with a heart condition that could only be treated with a procedure that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Her insurance company refused to pay. Their family didn't have that kind of money.

In her e-mail, Robyn wrote: "I ask only this of you: On the days where you feel so tired you can't think of uttering another word to the people, think of us. When those who oppose you have you down, reach deep and fight back harder."

North Carolina, that's what this election's about! That's what hope's about! That's what kept my grandmother going when times were tough. That's what kept your parents and grandparents going; what led them to say: "You know, maybe I won't go to college, but if I save a little bit each week, maybe my child can go to college. Maybe I don't have my dream job, but if I work hard, maybe my child or daughter -- they could start a business of their own."

There are many people here tonight whose parents and grandparents said, "Maybe I can't vote, but if I march and organize, maybe my child or grandchild can run for the president of the United States someday!" (Cheers, applause.)

That is what hope is! That thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there are better days ahead -- if we're willing to work for it! If we're willing to shed our doubts and fears; if we're willing to reach deep inside ourselves when we're tired, when we're discouraged, and we come back and we fight harder.

North Carolina, don't believe for a second that this election's over. Don't think for a minute that power will concede without a fight. We're going to have to work these next 24 hours like our future depends on it! (Cheers, applause.)

All of you are going to have to talk to your friends, your neighbors, those who still aren't convinced that change is possible.

But I know this, North Carolina: The time for change has come! We've got a righteous wind at our backs! (Cheers, applause.) And if in these final hours you will knock on some doors with me; make some calls for me; if you will stand with me; if you'll fight by my side; if you'll cast you're your ballot for me, then I promise you this: We will not just win North Carolina! We will win this general election! (Cheers, applause.) You and I together -- we're going to change this country! We're going to change the world!

Thank you, everybody! (Cheers, applause.) God bless you! God bless the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)


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