Barack Obama photo

Remarks in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

May 13, 2008

It's great to be here in Missouri with my good friend Claire McCaskill. This is a state that voted for change when you sent Claire to the Senate in 2006; you voted for change in February when we surprised the pundits and pulled out a victory; and this is a state where we will compete to win when I am the Democratic nominee for President.

There is a lot of talk these days about how the Democratic Party is divided. But I'm not worried, because I know that we'll be able to come together quickly behind a common purpose. There's too much that unites us as Democrats. There's too much at stake for our country. And there will be a clear choice on November 4.

Now there's one thing we know for sure about this election. The name George Bush will not be on the ballot. The name of my cousin Dick Cheney will not be on the ballot. But while the Bush-Cheney ticket won't be up for reelection, the Bush-Cheney policies will, because John McCain is running for four more years of the same approach that has failed the American people.

There is a reason that a record number of Americans think that we're on the wrong track. We've lost hundreds of thousands of jobs just this year. The cost of everything from health care, to a tank of gas, to college tuition has skyrocketed while wages have stayed stagnant. Millions of American families are facing foreclosure. We're spending tens of billions of dollars fighting a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged.

Meanwhile, Americans have lost faith that Washington can or will do anything about problems they face day in and day out. Because the troubling statistics only begin to tell a story found in communities and at kitchen tables across the country. It's a story of empty factories shut down forever because the jobs have been shipped overseas and nothing took their place. It's the story told by a mother who can't sleep because she can't afford health care for her sick child; a father who lost his job but can't afford a tank of gas so that he can look for a new one; a family that doesn't know where they'll be living in a month or a year because they're about to lose a home.

It's a story of an American Dream that is slipping away. And what the American people need at this defining moment is leadership that restores the fundamental American belief that you can make it if you try in this country – that your dreams matter more than the demands of special interests or the convenience of political posturing. That's why I'm running for President. That's why we'll be united as Democrats. Because Washington has failed the American people, and this election is our chance to turn the page.

John McCain has served his country with honor, and I respect that service. But for two decades, he has supported policies that have shifted the burden on to working people. And his only answer to the problems created by George Bush's policies is to give them another four years to fail. Just look at where he stands and you'll see that a vote for John McCain is a vote for George Bush's third term.

Four more years of George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don't need them and didn't ask for them.

Four more years of a health care plan that works for the healthy and the wealthy while tens of millions go without care, and families struggle with rising costs.

Four more years of a President who supports privatizing Social Security.

Four more years of a war that has cost us thousands of lives and a trillion dollars without making us safer, while we run up a mountain of debt that is mortgaging our children's future.

Four more years of a White House that is run by the kind of lobbyists who run John McCain's campaign, while Washington tells the American people – “you're on your own.”

Well we know that the American people cannot afford any more of the Bush-McCain program. Not this time. Not when the stakes are so high. Not when the opportunities are so great. We need a new direction in Washington. We need new leadership in the White House.

We know that government cannot solve all of our problems, and we don't expect it to. We don't want our tax dollars wasted on programs that don't work or perks for special interests that don't work for us. We understand that we cannot stop every job from going overseas or build a wall around our economy, and we know we shouldn't.

But that is not an excuse to spend another four years doing nothing to reclaim the American Dream for working people. We're the nation that built the largest middle class in history. We all have a stake in each other's success. We can't continue an economic program that rewards Wall Street at the expense of Main Street because then we all end up hurting. It's time to end a failed approach that tries to build prosperity from the top down, and renew our common prosperity from the bottom up.

Instead of a tax code that rewards wealth and not work, we'll provide an income tax cut of up to $1,000 for a working family, and eliminate income taxes altogether for any retiree making less than $50,000 per year.

Instead of more inaction on health care, we'll finally bring this country together, stand up to the drug companies and insurance companies, and make health care affordable and accessible for every single American.

Instead of putting a secure retirement at risk, we'll safeguard Social Security, we'll protect pensions instead of CEO bonuses, and we'll help all Americans save more so they can have a retirement that is dignified and secure.

Instead of gimmicks like a gas tax holiday that rewards the oil companies while doing nothing to lower gas prices in the long-term, we'll raise fuel efficiency standards, invest in alternative energy, and create millions of Green Jobs that will free this country from our addiction to oil.

Instead of a blank check to fight an endless war in Iraq, we can end this war, restore our military, finish the fight against al Qaeada, and invest some of those dollars to put millions of Americans to work rebuilding our roads and bridges, laying down new rail lines and new broadband, and making sure that all of America can compete and win in the 21st century.

That's the new direction we need in this country. The other party has already decided to run on the failed policies of the past; that's why we need to be the party that stands for the future. Everywhere I go, I meet Americans who can't wait another day for change. Change that refuses to let lobbyists drown out the voices of the American people.. Change that puts folks back to work. Change that finally delivers on the promise of health care you can afford, and an energy policy that makes sense. Change that leaves behind partisanship that stands in the way of progress, because we're all in this together as Americans.

This is our chance to build a new majority of Democrats and Independents and Republicans who know that four more years of George Bush just won't do. This is our moment to turn the page on the divisions and distractions that pass for politics in Washington, so that we can write the next chapter in the history of American prosperity for all Americans.

Barack Obama, Remarks in Cape Girardeau, Missouri Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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