40 million people tuned in to listen to Barack Obama’s televised acceptance speech Thursday night at INVESCO Field in Denver, Colorado as a beaming Obama was cheered on by 84,000 supporters.
It was a history making moment–the first time that a black man had accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party for president of the United States. Political insiders and media have touted the moment as the most popular television event than any other political convention in history.
“With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States,” Obama declared as supporters greeted him with waving flags, countless flashbulbs and a sea of blue and white Obama signs.
It was a nomination Obama acknowledged was steeped in significance, pointing out that it arrived on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. And as if the impact of the historic moment would not be missed, giant video screens broadcast the “I Have a Dream” speech that the Rev. King delivered exactly 45 years ago.
For many older African American attendees, Obama’s acceptance speech was an unprecedented moment that elicited tears. Many dabbed their eyes and were visibly shaken as they rubbed shoulders with students, mothers, celebrities, blue collar and white collar Obama supporters who enthusiastically waved blue signs for “Change.” Others viewed the evening as one too historic to miss–some admitting that they had traveled for hundreds of miles or flew across the country to witness the first major black democratic nominee.
“This is unbelievable. I never thought I would see a black man nominated for president in my lifetime,” one tearful black supporter told news sources.
Even celebrities turned out to show their support for Obama–“Dreamgirls” star Jennifer Hudson belted out “The Star Spangled Banner” to a rapt crowd. Sheryl Crow, John Legend and Stevie Wonder serenaded the stadium and Will.i.am, singer with the Black Eyed Peas, sang “Yes, We Can” with The Agape Choir of Culver City.
Also showing support for Obama’s nomination were Hollywood celebrities such as Angela Bassett, Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw, Charlize Theron, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Rosario Dawson, Kirsten Dunst, Chevy Chase, Josh Brolin, Hill Harper, Fran Drescher, Annette Bening, Lyn Whitfield and Spike Lee.
In a speech that Obama observers said was partially delivered to quiet those critics who felt that he lacked the judgment and experience to govern the country, Obama pointed out that the Bush administration had brought on the country’s current economic hardships of plunging home values, rising unemployment, soaring gasoline costs and college tuition.
Obama further pointed out that his Republican rival, Senator John McCain,–who just a few days later announced his vice presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin–just “doesn’t get it” when it comes to understanding the problems of middle America.
“For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited republican philosophy: Give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else,” Obama said. “In Washington, they call this the ‘ownership society,’ but what it really means is ‘You’re on your own.’
“Well, it’s time for them to own their failure,” Obama declared as the stadium erupted in cheers. “It’s time for us to change America.”
The presidential candidate appealed to voters to embrace the politics of hope, rise above partisan division and end the war in Iraq.
Many say Obama’s speech was aimed at the middle-income voters who up until now had been reluctant to become Obama supporters and who are “hurting” financially across the country.
“Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less,” Obama observed. “The government’s failure to respond is a direct result of broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.”
Addressing the struggling middle class, Obama said that he would introduce a broad-based tax cut that would cover 95 percent of wage earners, an elimination of the capital gains tax on small businesses, and an energy program focused on investment in renewable sources.
“This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.”
“We’re a better country than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment that he’s worked on for 20 years and watch as it’s shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news. We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty…that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. Tonight, I say to the people of America, to Democrats and Republicans and independents across this great land: Enough. This moment, this election is our chance to keep in the 21st century, the American promise alive.”
And to thunderous applause, Obama also restated his promise to pull American troops out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the earliest opportunity.
Taking a jab at John McCain, Obama intoned, “The record is clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but, really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I am not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.
“The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives–on health care, and education, and the economy–Senator McCain has been anything but independent.”
Pausing, he added, “And we are here…we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight.”
At the end of his speech, Obama declared, “Americans, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done…Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of Scripture: Hold Firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.”