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

Location: Manassas, VA


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SEN. OBAMA: Hello, Virginia! Thank you, (Cheers, applause.) What a scene! What a crowd! Wow! (Cheers, applause.) Thank you, Virginia!

AUDIENCE: (Chanting.) Obama! Obama! Obama!

SEN. OBAMA: I've got a few special thank yous I've got to make: First of all, to one of the finest public servants I know, but also one of the finest gentlemen I know, please give it up for your own governor, Tim Kaine! (Cheers, applause.) You know, Tim was one of the first to endorse us in this unlikely journey. We stood on the steps in Richmond, the scene of the old Confederacy, and it signified so much for him to be there -- the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia. And I am so grateful to him and Ann, his wife, and his kids, for all their friendship and support.

In the same way, I am grateful for our former governor, soon to be one of the greatest United States senators in our history! Give it up for Mark Warner! (Cheers, applause.) Mark is somebody who I think is an example of looking forward and not looking back, who understands we've got to leave some of the old arguments behind and bring the country together. And he has taught me a lot and I'm grateful for his support.

I'm also grateful for the support of Congressman Bobby Scott, who's been an outstanding advocate on behalf of his district and working people all across the country; to Judy Feder, the Democratic nominee for U.S. representative from the 10th District -- (cheers, applause). We look forward to seeing Judy serving in the House; to Gerry Connolly, Democratic nominee from the 11th C.D. We look forward to seeing him in the House as well.

But most of all, I want thank all of you! (Cheers, applause.) I know that because of some traffic getting into Dulles, we were a little bit delayed. For all of you to stay here on a school night -- (cheers, applause) -- let's face it, it's not going to be that much fun getting out of here -- (laughter) -- for you to make this sacrifice on our behalf is just extraordinary! (Cheers, applause.)

And I hope that that same determination and grit you take in tomorrow, because it may be raining, the lines may be long -- we're going to have record turnout -- but I know Virginia's ready to bring about change in America! (Cheers, applause.)

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

SEN. OBAMA: Let me start by noting, Virginia, that this is our last rally! (Cheers, applause.) This is the last rally of a campaign that began nearly two years ago. We've gone to every corner of this country -- from here in Northern Virginia to the rocky coasts of Maine; from the open plains of Texas to the open skies of Montana.

And I just want to say that whatever happens tomorrow, I have been deeply humbled by this journey. You have welcomed Michelle and me and the girls into your homes. (Cheers, applause.) You have -- you shared your stories of struggle, you've spoken of your dreams.

Along the way, in talking with all of you about your own lives, you've enriched my life. You have moved me again and again. You have inspired me. Sometimes, when I'm down you've lifted me up. You've filled me with new hope for our future. And you've reminded me about what makes America so special! (Cheers, applause.)

In the places I've gone and the people I've met, I've been struck again and again by the fundamental decency and generosity and dignity of men and women who work hard without complaint to meet their responsibilities every day. I've come away with an unyielding belief that if we only had a government that was as responsible as all of you, as compassionate as the American people, then there's no obstacle we can't overcome; there's no destiny we cannot fulfill.

So Virginia, I just have one word for you -- just one word: Tomorrow! (Cheers, applause.) Tomorrow! (Cheers, applause.)

After decades of broken politics in Washington; eight years of failed policies from George Bush; 21 months of campaigning, we are less than one day away from bringing about change in America! (Cheers, applause.)

Tomorrow, you can turn the page on policies that have put greed and irresponsibility before hard work and sacrifice. Tomorrow, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class, create new jobs, grow this economy so that everybody has a chance to succeed -- not just the CEO, but the secretary and the janitor; not just the factory owner, but the men and women who work the factory floor.

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

Tomorrow, at this defining moment in history, Virginia, you can give this country the change that we need! (Cheers, applause.) It starts here in Virginia! It starts here in Manassas! (Cheers, applause.) This is where change begins! (Cheers, applause.)

Now, we began this journey in the depths of winter on the steps of the Old State Capital in Springfield, Illinois -- like Manassas, there's a lot of history there. Abraham Lincoln served there for many years.

Back then we didn't have much money or many endorsements. We weren't given much of a chance by the polls or the pundits. We knew this was going to be a steep climb.

But I also knew this: I knew that the size of our challenges had outstripped the capacity of a broken politics to solve. I was certain that Americans of every political stripe were hungry for new ideas, new leadership. A new kind of politics: one that favors commonsense over ideology. One that focuses on those values and ideals that we hold in common as Americans!

I was convinced that when come together, our voices are more powerful than the most entrenched lobbyists or the most vicious political attacks or the full force of a status quo in Washington that wants to keep things just the way they are!

And that's how we've come so far, so close. That's how you end up with 100,000 people on a Monday night -- (cheers, applause) -- in November! (Cheers, applause.)

This happened because of you! That's how we're going to change this country -- because of you! And that's why in these last 21 hours, we can't afford to slow down or sit back or let up one minute, one second -- not one moment! (Cheers, applause.) Even if it rains tomorrow, you can't let that stop you! You've got to wait in line! You've got to vote! You've got to take your friends, take your neighbors! We can't stop -- not now, not when we've got so much at stake! (Cheers, applause.)

We are going to change American, Virginia, starting tomorrow! (Cheers, applause.)

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

SEN. OBAMA: Yes, we can!

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

SEN. OBAMA: We are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Seven-hundred-and-sixty thousand workers have lost their jobs so far this year. Businesses and families can't get credit. Home values are falling, foreclosures are rising. Pensions are disappearing. It's harder to make the mortgage or fill up your gas tank or even pay the bills at the end of the month.

So at a moment like this, the last thing we can afford is four more years of the same old tired, worn out economic theories that say as long as we give more and more to billionaires and millionaires and big corporations, prosperity will somehow trickle down on everybody else. (Boos.)

The last thing we can afford is four more years of deregulation in the health care industry and the financial services industry so that consumers don't have basic protections and we put the entire economic system at risk.

These are the economic theories that got us into this mess. They have not worked. It is time for change! (Cheers, applause.) And 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, Virginia, on this last day I want to just remind us: Senator McCain has served this country with great honor and distinction. He has been a worthy opponent. I'm grateful for the condolences he sent me today with the news of my grandmother. I thank you all, by the way for those same prayers and thoughts that you've sent me. (Cheers.)

And Senator McCain can point to a few moments over the past eight years where he's broke with George Bush. On things like torture and climate change, he can legitimately claim to have broken with the president. He deserves credit for that.

But when it comes to the central issue of this election, when it comes to the economy, the plain truth is that Senator McCain has stood with President Bush every step of the way! He hasn't been a maverick on the economy! He's been a sidekick! (Cheers, applause.)

After 21 months, after three debates, Senator McCain still has not been able to tell the American people a single major thing he'd do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy. I know you've watched the ads! He doesn't point to how he's going to move to the future. All he does is talk about me. (Cheers, applause.)

But I think the American people have come to understand that if John McCain wants to give $700,000 tax cuts to the average Fortune 500 CEO, that's not change! It's not change when he wants to give $200 billion to the biggest corporations or $4 billion to the oil companies, despite record profits, or $300 billion to the same Wall Street banks that got us into this mess! It's not change when the tax plan he comes up with doesn't give a penny of relief to more than 100 million middleclass Americans.

Well, here's the facts, Virginia: We've tried it John McCain's way, just like we tried it George Bush's way. And deep down, Senator McCain's knows that, which is why his campaign said that if we keep on talking about the economy, we're going to lose -- which is why we keep on talking about the economy! (Cheers, applause.)

Meanwhile, Senator McCain's spent these few weeks calling me everything but a name of -- but a child of God, because that's how you play the game in Washington. When you can't win on your ideas, you try to tear your opponent down. You try to make a big election about small things.

So we may see a little bit more of that over the next 24 hours. You may have to talk to your grandma or your parents or your spouse. They may have been hearing some negative ads. You're going to have to be ambassadors on our behalf.

But that kind of say anything, do anything politics is calculated to divide and distract; to tear us apart instead of bringing us together. We have a chance to beat back that kind of politics in this election -- not just in the short term. We can put an end to it in the long term!

We can show that negative politics is no match for the will and determination, the decency of the American people! That's what we've tried to show in this election: that you can keep your dignity, keep our decency and still win! That's what this election's partly about! (Cheers, applause.)

We can prove that we're more than a collection of states or just a collection of individuals. We're a union that over decades we've strived to perfect. That's who we are. That's the country we need to be right now.

Now, Virginia, I know these are difficult times. And as we enter into election day, I think all of us understand that change isn't going to happen overnight. But I also know that we've 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; about rejecting fear and division for unity of purpose!

That's how we overcame war and depression. That's how we won the great struggles for civil rights and women's rights and workers' rights! (Cheers, applause.) That's how we'll write the next great chapter in the American story! (Cheers, applause.) And it'll start tomorrow here in Virginia! (Cheers, applause.)

And part of that process is to understand -- just at Tim Kaine and Mark Warner understand -- that if we want to meet the challenges of this moment, we're going to have to get beyond the old ideological debates -- the old divides between left and right.

Listen: We don't need bigger government or smaller government. That's an argument dating back to the '60s. What we need is a smarter government, a better government -- (cheers, applause) -- a government that is fighting for ordinary citizens -- (cheers, applause) -- an honest government that upholds our values! That's what this election's about! (Cheers, applause.)

The choice in this election isn't between tax cuts and no tax cuts. John McCain and I both want to offer tax cuts. The question is, who do we give them to? Do we only reward those who are already wealthy, already lucky, already on top? Or do we reward the workers, the nurses, the teachers, the firefighters, those who are working hard every day who make this country work, who produce the wealth?

I want to give a tax break to 95 percent of Americans who work every day, get taxes taken out of their paycheck every single week! And I want to help pay for this by asking folks who are making more than a quarter-million-dollars a year to go back to the tax rate they were paying back in the 1990s under Bill Clinton. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, let me see a show of hands -- this is a pretty big crowd. This is a representative sampling: How many people are making less than a quarter-million-dollars a year, raise your hand? (Cheers, applause.)

So no matter what John McCain may claim, here are the facts: If you make under a quarter-million-dollars a year, you won't see your taxes increase by a single dime -- not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains tax -- no tax! And by the way, 98 percent of small businesses make less that a quarter-million-dollars a year and we're going to give them tax breaks! (Cheers, applause.) And 99.9 percent of plumbers make less than a quarter-million-dollars a year! (Cheers, applause.) And we're going to give Joe a break whether he wants it or not! (Laughs.) The last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middleclass.

When it comes to jobs, the choice in this election is not between putting up a wall around America or standing by and doing nothing. The truth is, we're not going to be able to bring back every job that's vanished, because some of it has to do with technology and shifts in manufacturing. We've got a new global environment that's more competitive. But that doesn't mean we stand by and do nothing!

We should be promoting trade agreements that have worker protections and environmental protections and reciprocate so that we can sell our goods into China and South Korea like they sell their goods here! (Cheers, applause.)

We need to put an end to tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas! Give those tax breaks to companies that invest here in the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)

We can create 2 million new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges and schools; laying broadband lines in the rural communities so companies can locate there; creating a new electricity grid so that we can bring renewable sources of energy to population centers that need them.

Invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources energy building wind turbines and solar panels; creating the next generation of biofuels; investing in clean coal technology! Making sure that we're building the new generation of fuel-efficient cars not in Japan, not in South Korea but right here in the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)

AUDIENCE: (Chanting.) Obama! Obama! Obama!

SEN. OBAMA: We can create 5 million new jobs -- jobs that can't be outsourced; jobs that pay well. But it requires determination and imagination in the White House; an understanding that we can't look backwards, we have to look forwards. That's what this election's been about! How do we meet 21st century challenges?

And when it comes to the health care system, we don't have to choose between a government-run health care system and the unaffordable one we have now. That's the old argument.

Look, if you've already got health insurance, the only thing that's going to change is we're going to make sure that we work with your employer to lower your premiums -- (cheers, applause).

If you don't have heath insurance -- like 45 million Americans don't have health insurance -- then we're going to make sure you can buy the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress get themselves and we will subsidize you if you can't afford it! (Cheers, applause.)

We will invest in prevention so that we have a health care system instead of a disease care system. We'll emphasize technologies that cut bureaucracy! (Cheers, applause.)

And as somebody who watched his own mother spend the final months of her life arguing with insurance companies because they claimed her cancer was a preexisting condition and didn't want to pay for her treatment -- I will make sure that insurance companies can never again discriminate against those who are sick and need care the most! (Cheers, applause.) That's the change we need! That's what I'll fight for when I'm president of the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)

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

SEN. OBAMA: And when it comes to giving every child a world- class education, which is going to be the key to the 21st century -- the key to our competitiveness and the key to our children's future -- the choice is not between more money and more reform, because our schools need both!

So we're going to invest in early childhood education and close the achievement gap. (Cheers, applause.) We're going to recruit an army of new teachers. We will pay our teachers higher salaries, give them more support, demand higher standards and more accountability from our schools! (Cheers, applause.)

And I want to make a deal with every young American who has the drive and will, but not the money to go to college: If you commit to serving your community or country in national service -- whether it's in our military or the Peace Corps, in the Foreign Service, working in a homeless shelter, working in a veterans home -- whatever your choice of service is, we will make absolutely sure that you can afford to go to college, you can afford your tuition no ifs, ands or buts! (Cheers, applause.)

And when it comes to keeping this country safe, we don't have to choose between retreating from the world and fighting a war without end. It is time to stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq. As president I will end this war! (Cheers, applause.)

I will ask the Iraqi government to step up for their future! And we will finally finish the fight against bin Laden and al Qaeda -- those who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11! (Cheers, applause.)

I will never hesitate to defend this nation! But I will use our military wisely, make sure men and women in uniform have the best training, the best equipment; that we're caring for our military families; that we have an exit strategy!

(Audio break.)

SEN. OBAMA: -- pass the shovel to John McCain. (Laughter.) It's going to take awhile to dig ourselves out.

The cost of this economic crisis, the cost of the war, means that Washington's going to have to tighten its belt, just like families and businesses are tightening their belts. We're going to have to put off spending on things we don't need -- even if some of them would be nice to have.

So we're going to have to go through the federal budget line by line, ending programs we don't need, making the ones that we do need work better and cost less!

But as I've said from the beginning of this journey 21 months ago, the change we seek will not just come from government alone. It's going to have to come from each of us. We're all going to have to do our part in our own lives and our own communities. We're going to have to look after ourselves and our families, but we also have to look after our fellow citizens.

We have to restore a sense of duty for this country -- (cheers) -- a sense of service to this nation! (Cheers, applause.)

You know, government's going to have to lead the way on energy independence, but each of us has a role to play in making our lives, our homes, our businesses more energy efficient. We have to put more money into ours schools, but government can't be the one that turns off the television set and makes sure your child does their homework! That's your job! (Cheers, applause.)

We need a return to responsibility, but we also need a return to civility! You know, we can argue and debate our positions passionately, but all of us have to summon the strength and the grace and the humor to bridge our differences and unite in common effort.

You know, our campaign hasn't been perfect on this front. There are times where I've looked back and I've said, "You know, maybe I wouldn't have done that if I'd thought about it a little bit more." You know, but I tell you what, when you think about this campaign, we've got a lot to be proud of when it comes to the tone that we've set! (Cheers, applause.) We've tried to argue issues and not engage in personal attacks.

We've been fierce in defending ourselves, but we tried to make sure that we're always reminding our supporters that all of us are in this together -- black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American; Democrat and Republican; young and old; rich and poor; gay and straight; disabled and not disabled -- (cheers, applause) -- all of us have a something to contribute! (Cheers, applause.)

We tried to communicate for these last two years that we can't afford the same political games, the same tactics that pit us against one other, that make us afraid of each other. We can't afford that anymore. Not this time!

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

The men and women who serve on our battlefields come from many walks of life, different political parties, but they've fought together and they've bled together! Some died together under the same proud flag! They have not served a red America or a blue America! They have served the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)

And that's what this campaign has been about! (Cheers, applause.) I'm calling out to serve the United States of America! (Cheers, applause.)

It won't be easy and it won't be quick. Even if we're successful tomorrow, we will be facing bigger challenges than probably any administration since FDR! But you and I know -- you can feel in your gut something happening here! That it's time to come together and that it's time to look to the future again! (Cheers, applause.)

You know, at the beginning of this campaign there were a lot of people who were cynical and a lot of people who were fed up with politics -- and they had every right to be. But despite all of that, I asked of you what had been asked of Americans throughout our history: I asked you to believe, not just in my ability to bring about change, but in yours! And you showed me that such change is possible!

In this campaign, I've had the privilege to witness what is best in America! In the stories, in the faces of men and women I've met in countless rallies, town hall meetings, VFW halls, living rooms, diners -- all across America -- men and women shared with me their stories and spoke of their struggles. But they also spoke of their hopes and their dreams, their love for their children; their sense of obligation and debts to be paid to earlier generations.

I met one of those women in Greenwood, South Carolina. It was back early when we were way back in the polls. Nobody gave us much of a chance back then. I had gone to South Carolina early in the campaign trying to see what I could stir up in the way of endorsements. And I was at a legislative dinner and I was sitting next to a state rep -- I really wanted her endorsement. So I turned to her and said, "I really want your endorsement." (Laughter.) And she looked at me and she said, "I'll tell you what, Obama, I will give you my endorsement if you come to my hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina." And I must have had a sip of wine or something that night, because right away I just said, "Okay, I'm coming!" (Laughter.)

So the next time I come to South Carolina is about a month later. We fly in about midnight. We hit the hotel about 1:00. I'm exhausted. I'm dragging my bags into my room. I get a tap on my shoulder. And I look back. It's one of my staff people. He says, "Senator, we need to be out of the hotel by 6:00 a.m." And I said, "Why's that?" (Laughter.) He says, "Because we've got to go to Greenwood like you promised!"

So the next morning I wake up and I feel terrible.

I think I'm coming down with a cold, my back is sore. I feel worse than when I went to bed. I open up the curtains in the hotel room just to hopefully get some sunlight in, wake me up, but it's pouring down rain! (Laughter.) I go outside my room, get The New York Times, open it up. There's a bad story about me in The New York Times. (Laughter.) I go downstairs after I pack and my umbrella blows open and I get soaked!

So by the time I'm in the car, I'm mad, I'm wet and I'm sleepy. And so we drive and we drive and drive. It turns out that Greenwood is about an hour and a half from everywhere else! (Laughter.) Finally, we get to Greenwood. We pull up against -- first of all, you don't know you're in Greenwood right away when you get to Greenwood. There aren't a lot of tall buildings in Greenwood.

We pull up to a small building, a little field house in a park. And we go inside. And lo and behold! After an hour and a half driving, it turns out there 20 people there! (Laughter.) Twenty people and they all look kind of damp and kind of sleepy like maybe they aren't really excited to be there either. (Laughter.)

But you know, I'm a professional; I've got to do what I've got to do. So I go around and I'm shaking hands, I'm saying, "How are you doing? What are you doing" -- (cheers, applause) -- wait, wait, wait -- as I go around the room, suddenly I hear this voice cry out behind me! "Fired up!" And I'm shocked! I jump up. I don't know what's going on, but everybody else acts like this is normal and they say, "Fired up!" Then I hear this voice say, "Ready to go!" And the other 20 people in the room, they act like this happens all the time, they say, "Ready to go!"

I don't know what's going on! So I look behind me and there's this small woman about 60 years old. She's a little over five feet. It looks like she just came from church. She's got a big church hat. (Laughter.) And she's standing there and she looks at me and she's smiling and she says, "Fired up!"

It turns out that she's a city councilwoman from Greenwood who also moonlights as a private detective -- I'm not making this up! (Laughter.) And it turns out she is famous for her chant. She does this wherever she goes. She says, "Fired up!" And the other people say, "Fired up!" and "Ready to go!"; "Ready to go!"

And so for the next five minutes she proceeds to do this -- "Fired up!" Everybody says "Fired up!" And "Ready to go!" And everybody says, "Ready to go!" And I'm standing there and I'm thinking, I'm being outflanked by this woman here. (Laughter.) She's making -- she's stealing my thunder! (Laughter.) I look at my staff. They're shrugging their shoulders. They don't know how long this is going to go.

But here's the thing, Virginia, after a minute or so, I'm feeling kind of fired up! (Cheers, applause.) I'm feeling like I'm ready to go! (Cheers, applause.) So I joined in the chant and it feels good! And for the rest of the day, even after we left Greenwood, even though it was still raining, even though I was still not getting big crowds anywhere, even though we hadn't got the endorsement of the people we were hoping for, somehow I felt a little lighter. I felt a little better.

I'd see my staff. I'd say: "Are you fired up?" They'd say: "We're fired up, boss. "Are you ready to go?" I'd say: "I'm ready to go!" (Cheers, applause.)

Here's my point, Virginia: That's how this thing was started. It shows you what one voice can do! One voice can change a room! (Cheers.) And if a voice can change a room, it can change a city! And if it can change a city, it can change a state! And if it can change a state, it can change a nation! And if it can change a nation, it can change the world! (Cheers, applause.)

Virginia, your voice can change the world tomorrow! (Cheers, applause.) In 21 hours -- in 21 hours, if you are willing -- if you are willing to endure some rain; if you're willing to drag that person you know who's not going to vote to the polls; if you're willing to organize and volunteer in the office; if you are willing to stand with me; if you're wiling to fight with me, I know your voice will matter! (Cheers, applause.)

So I've just got one question for you, Virginia: Are you fired up? (Cheers, applause.) Are you ready to go? (Cheers, applause.)

Fired up!

AUDIENCE: Fired up!

SEN. OBAMA: Ready to go!

AUDIENCE: Ready to go!

SEN. OBAMA: Fired up!

AUDIENCE: Fired up!

SEN. OBAMA: Ready to go!

AUDIENCE: Ready to go!

SEN. OBAMA: Fired up!

AUDIENCE: Fired up!

SEN. OBAMA: Ready to go!

AUDIENCE: Ready to go!

SEN. OBAMA: Fired up!

AUDIENCE: Fired up!

SEN. OBAMA: Ready to go!

AUDIENCE: Ready to go!

SEN. OBAMA: Virginia, let's go change the world! (Cheers, applause.)

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


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