Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Speeches of victory & defeat

In a victory speech in Grant Park, Chicago, Barack Obama set out his determination to put America back on track. In his openining he spoke of how history had been made. “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer” he said, “It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America”.
He thanked John McCain for his earlier congratulatory call and said “I congratulate him, I congratulate Governor Palin, for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead”. Beyond the thanks to both his friends, family and running mate Joe Biden he set out the challenges facing America. “Even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century” Obama said, “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there”. America’s new President elect was also pragmatic about the difficulties and possible disagreements ahead. “There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree”. He called on everyone to join in the effort to “reclaim the American dream”.

“This is our moment, this is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: yes, we can” [BBC].

His rival John McCain accepted defeat, saying "I deeply admire and commend" Barack Obama. He also called on his supporters to lend the next president their goodwill. “We have come to the end of a long journey” McCain said to the assembled crowds in Phoenix, Arizona. “A little while ago I had the honour of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him” McCain told the audience. As parts of the crowd booed, McCain raised his hands and gestured for them to pay due respect. “Please” he said before continuing. “His success commands my respect for his ability and perseverance” McCain told the crowd. “I urge all Americans, who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but by offering the next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger and better country than we inherited”. He asked his supporters to “move beyond the disappointment” and spoke of his “gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding Senator Obama, and old friend Joe Biden, should have the honour of leading us for the next four years”. As the crowd booed once again, McCain raised his hand. “Please, please, I would not be an American worthy of the name, should I regret a fate that allowed me extraordinary privilege of serving this country for almost half a century. Today I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone. And I thank the people of Arizona for it” John McCain said.

In his summing up, McCain was humble, yet proud in his defeat. “I wish god-speed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans who I have often in my campaign to not despair of our present difficulties, but to always believe in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here, Americans never quit, we never surrender, we never hide from history, we make history. Thank you and god bless you and god bless America”.
[BBC / Sky News / CNN]

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