Good evening, Democrats. Good evening, California. Good evening, Maryland. Welcome to the convention that will nominate Barack Obama and Joe Biden to be the next President and Vice President of the United States.
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.
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.
I am very proud of the Democrats in Congress. Working with Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate, here are some of our accomplishments:
— After years of inaction by Republicans, in our very first act, we passed the 9/11 Commission recommendations to protect the American people. That was just the beginning.
— We helped rebuild the Gulf Coast for the survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
— We put recovery rebates into the hands of more than 130 million families.
— We passed legislation to keep hard-working American families in their homes and to keep toxic toys out of the hands of our children.
— We increased the minimum wage for the first time in ten years.
— We improved fuel efficiency for the first time in 32 years.
— We passed the largest college aid expansion since the G.I. Bill 64
— We passed the largest veterans’ health care funding in the 77 year history of the Veterans Administration.
— And, we enacted a new G.I. Bill to thank our veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by sending them to college.
Every chance we get, we must honor our veterans and our men and women in uniform for their courage, patriotism, and the sacrifice they and their families are willing to make. Because of them, America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The American people gave Democrats their confidence, and we have started to reclaim the American dream for all Americans. But our journey to take our nation in a new direction cannot be complete without new leadership in the White House. Democrats know we can’t afford any more of the same failed Republican path. Democrats stand for the change America needs. We stand for Barack Obama for President of the United States.
Republicans say John McCain has experience. We say John McCain has the experience of being wrong. On the failed Bush policies that have weakened our economy and taken us from the Clinton surplus to reckless Bush deficits and on raising the minimum wage for millions of American workers, Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong. On health care for 10 million American children and on protecting Medicare–a bill so crucial that Senator Ted Kennedy left his own medical treatment to cast the decisive vote–Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong. On a future of American energy independence, investment in renewable clean energy, and millions of good-paying green jobs here at home, Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong. And on the most important foreign policy decision of our time, the war in Iraq–a catastrophic mistake that has cost thousands of lives of our men and women in uniform and trillions of dollars, as well
as has weakened our standing in the world and our capability to protect the American people, Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong. Very, very wrong.
America needs a president who knows that health care is a right, not a privilege, and that quality education is the key to our future. America needs a president who knows our democracy depends on a strong middle class and who will create millions of good-paying jobs right here at home. America needs a president who will once and for all end our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and invest in renewable, clean energy.
To make America stronger, America needs a president who will honor our troops and responsibly end the war in Iraq. For our children and grandchildren, America needs President Barack Obama.
The night before I was sworn in as Speaker, we had a celebration dinner at the Italian Embassy. In addition to being the first woman Speaker of the House, I am proud to be the first Italian-American Speaker of the House. My little grandson Ryan, who lives in Texas and, at the time was five years old, was playing under the table. At one point, he came out from under the table, looked up, saw Senator Obama and said, “Barack Obama! I must be dreaming!”
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.
Barack Obama’s values are enduring American values:
— A belief in personal responsibility, community, and hard work that brought him to the struggling neighborhoods of Chicago;
— A faith in God that gives him strength;
— A patriotic love of America that gives him courage;
— And his wife Michelle and his entire loving family, inspiring him every day to strengthen and renew this great country.
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!
God bless you and God bless America.