The day history was made.
Obama to Become First Black President
By Russell Goldman
November 4 2008
Barack Obama cruised to victory Tuesday night in an historic triumph that promised change, overcame centuries of prejudice and fulfilled Martin Luther King’s dream that a man be judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character
Obama was projected to surpass the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency when polls closed on the West coast at 11p.m. ET.
Obama, a first term senator will little experience on the national level, made history by defeating Sen. John McCain, one of the country’s most experienced politicians and a bona fide war hero.
Obama’s history making victory was fueled by his soaring rhetoric, his themes of change and hope in uncertain economic times, as well as deep dissatisfaction with the last eight years of the Bush administration.
Obama’s campaign was historic for reasons beyond his skin color. He raised more money than any other candidate in U.S. history, and had to first defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was the party’s favorite to win the Democratic nomination.
Voters from a broad swath of America’s diverse ethnic enclaves and economic communities celebrated Obama’s win Tuesday night, particularly those in the African-American community.
Thousand’s flocked to Chicago’s Grant Park to await the election results. In Harlem, New York the black community took to the streets to celebrate.
“I’ve been an Obama supporter from the beginning,” said Sophie Logothetis, an elementary school history teacher who waited an hour to get into Grant Par, “and I just had to be here.”
In Grant Park, the Rev. Jesse Jackson was seen crying when election results were announced.
In Harlem, Jeff Mann, a 51-year-old construction worker said, “You can’t be anything but joyful. Obama is going to change the world,” said Jeff Mann, 51, a construction worker in Harlem.
Crucial to Obama’s victory was winning all of the states that Democrat John Kerry won four years ago and flipping of Ohio, New Mexico Colorado, Virginia, Iowa and Florida states that all voted Republican in 2004.
Obama, 47, the son of a black man from Kenya and white woman from Kansas, served just two years in U.S. Senate before declaring his candidacy and ultimately taking on one of the most experienced politicians in America.
A moderate conservative who tried to stress his credentials as a maverick and distance himself from an unpopular president, McCain, 72, was unable to motivate his base and overcome his associations with Republican incumbent President Bush.
Obama built a coalition grounded on a base of near unanimous support from black voters, who made up 13 percent of the national vote. Obama also won nearly 70 percent of the vote of Hispanics. While John McCain was able to win white voters by 54-44 percent, Obama made inroads with them as well.
Voters shifted to the Democratic Party in this election, with Republican turnout falling to its lowest point since 1980.
By almost every quantifiable measure — from the $640 million Obama raised in the month of October, to the nearly $1 billion combined the campaigns have spent, to 9 million newly registered voters — records have been shattered.
Yet another record may fall once the number of voters is tallied. Turnout was heavy throughout the day and could surpass previous voting turnout records. The existing records were set in 2004 when more than 122 million Americans went to the polls, and in 1960 when 64 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
Each of the candidates was a dark horse who pundits predicted would never make it past the first weeks of their parties’ respective primaries. Obama ultimately beat out Democratic favorite Sen. Hillary Clinton for the nomination, the first glimmer of future success.
In perhaps the greatest and most calculated flip-flop of his campaign, Obama forwent public financing allowing him to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from donors contributing small amounts of money, proving that he was not just a neophyte who could make good speeches but a scrappy politician from Chicago.
McCain too changed course. In the final weeks of the campaign, the Arizona senator struck a more negative tone and along with Vice Presidential running mate Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska began attacking Obama on his relationships and judgment. In the third and final presidential debate, McCain assailed Obama for his relationship with 1960s radical William Ayers and his campaign began aggressively using auto-dialed calls to voters, known as “robocalls,” to relay negative messages, frequently focusing on the Democrat’s experience and readiness for the White House. That strategy didn’t seem to achieve the desired effect, with voters responding in polls in the race’s final weeks that they were turned off by the negative ads and attack tactics. The economy is nationally the overwhelming issue for voters casting their ballots in today’s historic presidential election, according to early exit polls. Despite the possibility of Obama becoming the nation’s first black president, the turnout of black voters as a percentage of the national vote was at 13 percent, just slightly higher than in 2004, according to early exit polls. The economy has long dominated the campaign, and voters’ concerns became heightened when the major banks and credit markets needed a massive federal bailout to avoid a fiscal catastrophe. Four in 10 voters said their family’s financial situation is worse than it was four years ago, and eight in 10 are worried the current economic crisis will hurt their family finances over the next year.
McCain Votes and Keeps on Campaigning
Across the country voters are turning out in what could be historic numbers, in some cases spending hours in serpentine lines waiting for a chance to vote. In an indication of how intensely fought this campaign has been, both candidates kept holding large rallies and television interviews even as voters swarmed to their polling sites. In the past, presidential candidates have halted their campaigns on Election Day.
McCain voted early in Phoenix before heading off for some last-minute get-out-the-vote efforts in New Mexico and Colorado, two states where the GOP presidential pick had trailed but hoped to pull out narrow victories. “I promise you if I’m elected president I will never let you down,” an energized McCain told a crowd in Colorado. “I think we ought to hear one more time ‘drill, baby drill,'” he cheerfully suggested and the crowd obliged with the campaign’s chant.
Palin on Troopergate: “We Did Nothing Wrong”
After voting at a Chicago school, Obama spent the morning campaigning in Indiana before returning to Chicago to conduct television interviews broadcast via satellite to the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada and Missouri. Obama voted with his two young daughters in Chicago before he plunged into a final round of campaigning in Indiana. “I voted,” the Democratic presidential candidate said, holding up the validation slip he was given after turning in a ballot at the Shoesmith School in his Chicago neighborhood. Obama voted at the same polling station as William Ayers, the former 1960s radical who became a flashpoint in the campaign when McCain accused Obama of “palling around” with a domestic terrorist. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan also voted at that site. Farrakhan became a GOP target after he endorsed Obama.
Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate, voted in her hometown of Wasilla and then joined McCain in Phoenix to watch the results. After voting, Palin noted that the result would be historic, implying that the voters would elect either the country’s first black president or the first female vice president. “It bodes so well the progress our country is making,” Palin said. She also said she was delighted that she was cleared of any wrongdoing in the firing of Alaska’s top police officer. “You didn’t believe us,” she told reporters. “I told you we’d done nothing wrong.” Today’s vote caps a long-fought and record-breaking campaign between two candidates who were both written off early in their candidacies and whose races for the White House have been nothing short of history making.
Record Setting Campaign Comes to an End
“The election is historic by any standard,” said Matthew Dowd, an ABC News political consultant. “We’re seeing a great generational shift.” By almost every quantifiable measure — from the $640 million Obama raised in the month of October, to the nearly $1 billion combined the campaigns have spent, to 9 million newly registered voters — records have been shattered. Yet another record may fall before the day is over as turnout is heavy and could surpass previous voting turnout records. The existing turnout records were set in 2004 when more than 122 million Americans went to the polls, and in 1960 when 64 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
History was made in the US tonight.
McCain pledges to help Obama lead
Sen. John McCain on Tuesday urged all Americans to join him in congratulating Sen. Barack Obama on his projected victory in the presidential election.
Sen. John McCain congratulates Sen. Barack Obama on his projected victory.
“I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face,” McCain said before his supporters in Phoenix, Arizona.
“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” he said.
McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, was standing with him, but she did not speak.
McCain called Obama to congratulate him, Obama’s campaign said.
Obama thanked McCain for his graciousness and said he had waged a tough race.
President Bush also called Obama to congratulate him.
With his projected win, Obama will become the nation’s 44th president and its first African-American leader.
Obama will address the country from a rally in Chicago, Illinois, at midnight.
Supporters in Chicago cheering, “Yes, we can” were met with cries of “Yes, we did.”
Obama’s former rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton said in a statement that “we are celebrating an historic victory for the American people.”
“This was a long and hard fought campaign but the result was well worth the wait. Together, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and a Democratic Congress, we will chart a better course to build a new economy and rebuild our leadership in the world.”
The Illinois senator is projected to pick up a big win in Virginia, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1964.
Obama also is projected to beat Sen. John McCain in Ohio, a battleground state that was considered a must-win for the Republican candidate.
Earlier in the evening, senior McCain aides were growing pessimistic about the Arizona senator’s chances.
Going into the election, national polls showed Obama with an 8-point lead.
In addition to the presidential contest, voters were making choices in a number of key House and Senate races that could determine whether the Democrats strengthen their hold on Congress.
Former Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, will win a Senate seat in Virginia, CNN projects. He will replace retiring Republican Sen. John Warner.
Incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican, is projected to lose her North Carolina seat to Democratic challenger Kay Hagan.
Dole is the wife of 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole.
CNN also projects Democrats will win two other Senate seats currently held by Republicans. In New Hampshire, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen will win over incumbent John Sununu, and in New Mexico, Democrat Tom Udall will defeat Republican Steve Pearce.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held onto his seat in Kentucky.
Delaware voters re-elected Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, to his seventh term.
CNN’s Ed Henry said there were lots of long faces in the lobby of the McCain headquarters at the Arizona Biltmore hotel as McCain allies watched returns showing Senate Republicans losing their seats.
Voters expressed excitement and pride in their country after casting their ballots Tuesday in what has proved to be a historic election.
When the ballots are counted, the United States will have elected either its first African-American president or its oldest first-term president and first female vice president.
Poll workers reported high turnout across many parts of the country, and some voters waited hours to cast their ballots.
Reports of minor problems and delays in opening polls began surfacing early Tuesday, shortly after polls opened on the East Coast.
The presidential candidates both voted early in the day before heading out to the campaign trail one last time.
Tuesday also marked the end of the longest presidential campaign season in U.S. history — 21 months — and both candidates took the opportunity to make their final pitch to voters.
As McCain and Obama emerged from their parties’ conventions, the race was essentially a toss-up, with McCain campaigning on his experience and Obama on the promise of change. But the race was altered by the financial crisis that hit Wall Street in September.
Although most of the attention has been focused on the presidential race, the outcome of congressional elections across the country will determine whether the Democrats increase their clout on Capitol Hill.
Few predict that the Democrats are in danger of losing their control of either the House or the Senate, but all eyes will be on nearly a dozen close Senate races that are key to whether the Democrats get 60 seats in the Senate.
With 60 votes, Democrats could end any Republican filibusters or other legislative moves to block legislation.
Many political observers also predict that the Democrats could expand their majority in the House.
Voters will also weigh in on a number of ballot initiatives across the country, many of them focused on social issues like abortion and affirmative action.
Obama 349 McCain 163
You need 270 to win the Presidency.
Congratulations to Barack Obama.
Transcript of Obama’s Victory Speech
Sen. Barack Obama spoke at a rally in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, after winning the race for the White House Tuesday night. The following is an exact transcript of his speech.
Barack Obama speaks at a rally in Chicago, Illinois, after winning the presidency.
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.
It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.
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.
It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.
A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.
Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.
I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady Michelle Obama.
Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new White House.
And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.
And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.
To my chief strategist David Axelrod who’s been a partner with me every step of the way.
To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.
It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.
It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.
This is your victory.
And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.
You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For 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.
Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.
There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.
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.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the 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. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.
It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.
Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.
In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.
Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.
To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.
That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.
And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.
Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. 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 doubts 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.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
Video of Victory Speech