2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address

2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address

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The keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention
2004 Democratic National Convention
The 2004 Democratic National Convention convened from July 26 to July 29, 2004 at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts, and nominated John Kerry and John Edwards as the official candidates of the Democratic Party for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively, in the 2004...

(DNC) was given by then Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 State Senator, United States Senate candidate (and elected Senator), and future President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 on the night of Tuesday, July 27, 2004. A relatively unknown politician on the national stage beforehand, the speech instantly helped Obama become one of the most well known politicians in the United States and led to talk about a future run for the presidency
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, despite the fact that he had not yet been elected to the United States Senate.

Obama first met Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

 in the spring of 2004, and was just one of several names considered for the role of keynote speaker at the party's convention that summer. After being alerted in early July that he had been chosen to deliver the address, Obama largely wrote the speech himself, with later edits from the Kerry presidential campaign
John Kerry presidential campaign, 2004
The Presidential Campaign of John Kerry, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and the nominee of the Democratic Party challenged Republican incumbent President George W. Bush in the U.S. presidential election on November 2, 2004. Ultimately, Kerry conceded defeat in the race in a telephone call to Bush...

. Delivered on the second night of the DNC in just under 20 minutes, the address included both a biographical sketch of Obama, his own vision of America, and the reasons for his support of Kerry for the presidency. While it received an immediate positive reaction from many media commentators and fellow politicians, the speech was not carried by the commercial broadcast networks, and was only seen by a combined PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

, cable news
United States cable news
Cable news refers to television channels devoted to television news broadcasts, with the name deriving from the proliferation of such networks during the 1980s with the advent of cable television. In the United States, early networks included CNN in 1980, Financial News Network in 1981, and CNN2 ...

 and C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

 television audience of about 9 million. Since its delivery, several academics have studied the speech, both for the various narratives it describes as well as its implications for racial reconciliation.

Background


In 1996, Obama was first elected to the Illinois Senate
Illinois Senate
The Illinois Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly, the legislative branch of the government of the state of Illinois in the United States. The body was created by the first state constitution adopted in 1818. The Illinois Senate is made up of 59 senators elected from...

 by that state's 13th District, and he would go on to hold that seat for eight years
Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama
The Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama began in with the 1997 swearing in of Barack Obama to his first term in the Illinois Senate and ended in 2004 with his election to the United States Senate...

. While still a sitting state senator he entered the 2004 Illinois Senate race
United States Senate election in Illinois, 2004
The 2004 United States Senate election in Illinois was held on November 2, 2004. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald decided to retire after one term. The Democratic and Republican primary elections were held in March, which included a total of 15 candidates who combined to spend a...

, which would end on the same day as the 2004 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. The Democratic presidential primary
Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2004
The 2004 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2004 U.S. presidential election...

 in Illinois was held that March 16, and later that spring Obama had his first opportunity to meet the soon to be nominated Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

, doing two joint Chicago campaign stops that left Kerry impressed.

That April, Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill
Mary Beth Cahill
Mary Beth Cahill is an American political figure, who served as the campaign manager of Senator John Kerry's campaign for the Democratic nomination for President...

 began listing possible candidates to be the DNC's keynote speaker including Jennifer Granholm
Jennifer Granholm
Jennifer Mulhern Granholm is a Canadian-born American politician, educator, and author who served as Attorney General and 47th Governor of the U.S. state of Michigan. A member of the Democratic Party, Granholm became Michigan's first female governor on January 1, 2003, when she succeeded Governor...

, Janet Napolitano
Janet Napolitano
Janet Napolitano is the third and current United States Secretary of Homeland Security, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She is the fourth person to hold the position, which was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the 21st...

, Tom Vilsack
Tom Vilsack
Thomas James "Tom" Vilsack is an American politician, a member of the Democratic Party, and presently the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He served as the 40th Governor of the state of Iowa. He was first elected in 1998 and re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002...

, Mark Warner
Mark Warner
Mark Robert Warner is an American politician and businessman, currently serving in the United States Senate as the junior senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Warner was the 69th governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and is the honorary chairman of...

, and Bill Richardson  searching for speakers who would generate a significant buzz in the media. Others involved in the process included convention manager Jack Corrigan
Jack Corrigan
Jack Corrigan was born in Somerville, Massachusetts on September 29, 1956. He graduated from Boston College High School, Harvard University, and Harvard Law School...

 and Kerry media advisor Robert Shrum. Corrigan's friend, Lisa Hay, knew Obama from their time together working on the Harvard Law Review
Harvard Law Review
The Harvard Law Review is a journal of legal scholarship published by an independent student group at Harvard Law School.-Overview:According to the 2008 Journal Citation Reports, the Review is the most cited law review and has the second-highest impact factor in the category "law" after the...

 and strongly recommended him. Cahill had previously seen Obama in a photo in TIME
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

and began asking for opinions from people who knew and had worked with him. Although there were some internal worries about his style of speaking, lack of experience with a teleprompter, opposition to the Iraq War
Opposition to the Iraq War
Significant opposition to the Iraq War occurred worldwide, both before and during the initial 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States, United Kingdom, and smaller contingents from other nations, and throughout the subsequent occupation...

 that Kerry initially supported, and the fact that he was only a state senator, they eventually chose Obama over the other finalist, Jennifer Granholm, in part because polls showed Kerry with less support among African-Americans than Democrats normally enjoyed and because he was running for an important Senate seat. During the process, the Obama senate campaign provided the Kerry camp with an eight-minute audition video, and several Obama advisors lobbied on his behalf with members of the Kerry staff.

According to Obama, he was told just several weeks after his campaigning with Kerry that he would be given some kind of speaking role at that summer's convention; he was later called by Cahill, reportedly sometime right before the Independence Day
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

 holiday, who told him that he was chosen to be the convention's keynote
Keynote
A keynote in literature, music, or public speaking establishes the principal underlying theme. In corporate or commercial settings, greater importance is attached to the delivery of a keynote speech or keynote address...

 speaker. Kerry first publicly hinted that Obama would deliver the convention's keynote address on June 29, though it was not until July 14 when the official announcement was made.

Writing


Obama began drafting his speech while staying in a hotel in Springfield, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

, several days after learning he would deliver the address. According to his account of that day in The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by then-Senator Barack Obama. In the fall of 2006 it became number one on both the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. In the book, Obama expounds on...

, Obama states that he began by considering his own campaign themes and those specific issues he wished to address, and while pondering the various people he had met and stories he had heard during his campaign, was reminded of the phrase "The audacity of hope", which was previously used in a sermon by his pastor Jeremiah Wright
Jeremiah Wright
Jeremiah Alvesta Wright, Jr. is Pastor Emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ , a megachurch in Chicago exceeding 6,000 members...

. The title of Wright's sermon was "The Audacity to Hope" but Obama recalled it as "The Audacity of Hope." This seemingly minor change turned Wright's verb into Obama's preposition.

Wright had attended a lecture by Dr Frederick G. Sampson in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

, in the late 1980s, on the GF Watts painting Hope
Hope (painting)
Hope is a Symbolist oil painting by George Frederic Watts, two versions of which were completed in 1886. The painting was intended to form part of a series of allegorical paintings by Watts entitled the "House of Life".-Description:...

, which inspired him to give a sermon in 1990 based on the subject of the painting - "with her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God ... To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope ... that's the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from Watt's painting." Having attended Wright's sermon, Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 later adapted Wright's phrase "audacity to hope" to "audacity of hope" which became the title for his conference address, and later the title of his second book
The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by then-Senator Barack Obama. In the fall of 2006 it became number one on both the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. In the book, Obama expounds on...

.

The first draft was written longhand, and Obama reportedly labored over it for some two weeks, often beyond midnight. Described by his campaign political director as "a greatest hits collection of rhetoric drawn from his stump speeches", Obama also watched and read previous keynote addresses during the process. Originally given 8 minutes to speak, Obama's completed address ran 25 minutes, leading to two more weeks of edits with advisors that brought it down to 17 minutes. The final draft was sent to a Democratic speechwriting team at the FleetCenter on roughly July 20, at which time some biographical material was removed so as to include more on the presidential ticket; one report indicated that roughly three quarters was reported to have been left intact after the Kerry campaign's edits, while another indicated that very little had been changed. After delivering it, Obama acknowledged that his and Kerry's staffs had reviewed the speech for length, noting, however, that he was proud to have written it himself along with most of his other speeches.

Convention



The 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC), held at the FleetCenter (now the TD Garden) in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, began on July 26, with Obama scheduled to address the delegates the following evening. The Obama campaign was unhappy with the time slot and hoped to change it, as that night would not be covered by the major networks.

Obama arrived in Boston at 1:30 am EDT Sunday the 25th on a chartered Hawker jet, delayed in Illinois because of a hold up on the state budget. The aircraft was provided for him because that same morning Obama made his first appearance on Meet the Press
Meet the Press
Meet the Press is a weekly American television news/interview program produced by NBC. It is the longest-running television series in American broadcasting history, despite bearing little resemblance to the original format of the program seen in its television debut on November 6, 1947. It has been...

, hosted by Tim Russert
Tim Russert
Timothy John "Tim" Russert was an American television journalist and lawyer who appeared for more than 16 years as the longest-serving moderator of NBC's Meet the Press. He was a senior vice president at NBC News, Washington bureau chief and also hosted the eponymous CNBC/MSNBC weekend interview...

. During the interview, Obama touched upon what he hoped to achieve in the speech:


This was followed by appearances on Face the Nation
Face the Nation
Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer is an American Sunday-morning political interview show which premiered on the CBS television network on November 7, 1954. It is one of the longest-running news programs in the history of television...

and Late Edition
Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer
Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer was a Sunday talk show hosted by Wolf Blitzer on CNN and broadcast around the world by CNN International. The show's slogan was The last word in Sunday talk and comments made on the show were often featured in the following Monday's news headlines.The show, launched...

.

Obama appeared on Good Morning America
Good Morning America
Good Morning America is an American morning news and talk show that is broadcast on the ABC television network; it debuted on November 3, 1975. The weekday program airs for two hours; a third hour aired between 2007 and 2008 exclusively on ABC News Now...

the day of the speech, and when asked how he would deal with the fact that he was against the invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 while Kerry and Edwards supported the resolution
Iraq Resolution
The Iraq Resolution or the Iraq War Resolution is a joint resolution passed by the United States Congress in October 2002 as Public Law No: 107-243, authorizing military action against Iraq.-Contents:The resolution cited many factors to justify the use of military force against...

 approving the use of military force, responded that they were focused on the future instead of looking back at the past, and that now everyone was interested in seeing a successful policy on the war. Obama also stated the advice his wife Michelle
Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States...

 had given him for the night's address: "Don't screw it up."

During another interview that morning with NPR, Obama said, "I'm sure I'm going to be excited, although I was here last night and something that really takes the pressure off, you realize that nobody's listening... So, you know, who knows what lines I could slip in there...No one would notice. So as long as I'm smiling and waving, I think I'll be OK." He referred to talk about his presidential prospects as silly, and also addressed the risk of being typecast, as another young African-American politician, Harold Ford, had given the keynote address in 2000. That afternoon he was at Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor is a natural harbor and estuary of Massachusetts Bay, and is located adjacent to the city of Boston, Massachusetts. It is home to the Port of Boston, a major shipping facility in the northeast.-History:...

 where he gave a speech on environmental policy to a small crowd.

According to Obama friend Marty Nesbitt, the two were walking together later that afternoon before the speech, and when Nesbitt likened him to a rock star because of the crowd growing behind them, Obama replied: "Yeah, if you think it’s bad today, wait until tomorrow...My speech is pretty good."

Preparation


Obama was scheduled to give his keynote address on the night of Tuesday, July 27. Some Obama advisors were concerned prior to his delivery, because it amounted to the first time he used a teleprompter. He would have three one-hour practice sessions in what were normally the FleetCenter locker rooms of the Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The team has been in existence since 1924, and is the league's third-oldest team and its oldest in the...

 and the Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are a National Basketball Association team based in Boston, Massachusetts. They play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Founded in 1946, the team is currently owned by Boston Basketball Partners LLC. The Celtics play their home games at the TD Garden, which...

, reportedly having difficulty with the teleprompter while also learning various techniques in speaking to a live and TV audience. Once while Obama was backstage rehearsing his speech, he met Kerry staffer and speechwriter Jon Favreau
Jon Favreau (speechwriter)
Jonathan "Jon" Favreau is Director of Speechwriting for President Barack Obama. Favreau attended the College of the Holy Cross, graduating as valedictorian. In college, he accumulated a variety of scholastic honors, and took part in and directed numerous community and civic programs...

 (later to become Obama's speechwriter), who instructed him that to avoid overlap with Kerry, a sentence had to be changed. The sentence involved, later recalled as "We're not red states and blue states; we're all Americans, standing up together for the red, white, and blue" was to conclude his paragraph on red states and blue states, but was instead used by Kerry as "Maybe some just see us divided into those red states and blue states, but I see us as one America: red, white, and blue"; it is unclear whether or not this already existed in Kerry's speech, but regardless, its removal left Obama incensed.

Delivery


Stepping on stage shortly before 9:45 pm EDT
Eastern Time Zone
The Eastern Time Zone of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. Its UTC time offset is −5 hrs during standard time and −4 hrs during daylight saving time...

 to the 1964 song Keep on Pushing
Keep on Pushing
Keep on Pushing is an album and song by the American soul music group The Impressions. It was the biggest album of their career, reaching the Top 10 on the Billboard Pop Album chart...

by The Impressions, Obama would go on to speak for 17 minutes, interrupted 33 times by the audience's applause. The final speech would amount to 2,297 words.

After thanking Illinois Senator Dick Durbin for the introduction and acknowledging the privilege of speaking there, Obama immediately launched into a brief auto-biographical sketch
Early life and career of Barack Obama
Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, in the state of Hawaii to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr...

, from his Kenyan grandfather's work as a domestic servant for the British, to his own father
Barack Obama, Sr.
Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a Kenyan senior governmental economist and the father of U.S. President Barack Obama. He is a central subject in his son's memoir, Dreams from My Father.-Early life:...

 who obtained a scholarship to come to the United States. He then spoke of his mother's family, describing his grandfather
Stanley Armour Dunham
Stanley Armour Dunham was the maternal grandfather of U.S. President Barack Obama. He and his wife Madelyn Payne Dunham raised Obama from the age of 10 in Honolulu, Hawaii.-Early life:...

 fighting under Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 while his grandmother
Madelyn Dunham
Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham was the American maternal grandmother of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States of America...

 worked on a bomber assembly line and raised his mother
Madelyn Dunham
Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham was the American maternal grandmother of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States of America...

. Obama explained that the African name given to him by his parents, Barack, meant "blessed", concluding that:

Obama then alluded to the basic freedoms enunciated in the Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

, and stated that the 2004 election was a time to reaffirm these values and realize that "We have more work to do." He went on to mention several Americans he had met who were struggling with jobs, healthcare, and education, stating that "they don't expect government to solve all their problems...But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all."

In the next segment of his address, Obama mentioned John Kerry for the first time, enumerating his major values and beliefs on a host of issues, interrupted by a story of a young Marine he had met and the affirmation that when military action is undertaken, the families and soldiers involved must be cared for and that there is an obligation to "never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world." Obama subsequently returned to Kerry and affirmed his commitment to keep America secure.

Obama then addressed the ideas of community and unity in America, that a person struggling somewhere affects us even if we are not directly involved. Referring to the "spin masters
Spin (public relations)
In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure...

" and "negative ad
Attack ad
In political campaigns, an attack ad is an advertisement whose message is meant as a personal attack against another candidate or political party...

 peddlers" who he claimed were ready to divide the country, Obama declared:

Asking whether the country wished to engage in a politics of cynicism or hope, he stated that Kerry and Edwards called on the American people to hope, which he assured was not simply "blind optimism".

Stating his own beliefs on what could be done, Obama said that he believed "we have a righteous wind at our backs" and expressed confidence in the country's ability to meet the current challenges. He concluded by expressing his belief that in November Kerry and Edwards would be elected, and with their inauguration, "this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness, a brighter day will come."

Reception


Obama's speech instantly catapulted him to a national stage, both as a star within the Democratic party and someone that pundits openly predicted might one day become president. Obama's biography, recounted in the speech, was reported by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

to have allowed him to credibly identify with a much wider array of people than other politicians, and he did not place himself in a black tradition. Obama's address was also seen as signaling a possible change in the black political leadership in the country. However, it was not clear whether the address would help Kerry, and was noted for taking some of the limelight from another young Democrat, John Edwards.

Family


After the speech Obama and his wife were interviewed by Brian Williams
Brian Williams
Brian Douglas Williams is the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, the evening news program of the NBC television network, a position he assumed in 2004...

, and when asked about what she thought, Michelle replied, "And all I have to say is, honey, you didn't screw it up, so good job." Obama said that he hoped his two daughters had watched the whole event, as their baby-sitter was permitted to let them stay up only if they watched the convention. Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham
Madelyn Dunham
Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham was the American maternal grandmother of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States of America...

, called Obama after the speech and told him, "You did well...I just kind of worry about you. I hope you keep your head on straight." She was later quoted by a journalist: "I was a little amazed. It was really quite an exceptional speech, or I'm being prejudiced, I don't know. But, to me, it was really quite exceptional."

News media and pundits


Immediately after the speech MSNBC
MSNBC
MSNBC is a cable news channel based in the United States available in the US, Germany , South Africa, the Middle East and Canada...

 host Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews
Christopher John "Chris" Matthews is an American news anchor and political commentator, known for his nightly hour-long talk show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, which is televised on the American cable television channel MSNBC...

 admitted, "I have to tell you, a little chill in my legs right now. That is an amazing moment in history right there. It is surely an amazing moment. A keynoter like I have never heard." He added later in the night, "...I have seen the first black president there. And the reason I say that is because I think the immigrant experience combined with the African background, combined with the incredible education, combined with his beautiful speech, not every politician gets help with the speech, but that speech was a piece of work." Commenting the next day, Pat Buchanan
Pat Buchanan
Patrick Joseph "Pat" Buchanan is an American paleoconservative political commentator, author, syndicated columnist, politician and broadcaster. Buchanan was a senior adviser to American Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and was an original host on CNN's Crossfire. He sought...

, while complimentary towards Obama, was more critical of what he called a centrist speech: "He is hiding what he truly believes. What does Obama believe about this war?" On PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

, columnist David Brooks
David Brooks (journalist)
David Brooks is a Canadian-born political and cultural commentator who considers himself a moderate and writes for the New York Times...

 responded positively, "This is why you go to conventions, to watch a speech like this," while Mark Shields
Mark Shields
Mark Shields is an American political columnist and commentator.Since 1988, Shields has provided weekly political analysis and commentary for PBS’ award-winning PBS NewsHour. His current sparring partner is David Brooks of The New York Times. Previous counterparts were the late William Safire,...

 said, "A star is born."

Former Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 speechwriter Hendrick Hertzberg considered it slightly better than Mario Cuomo
Mario Cuomo
Mario Matthew Cuomo served as the 52nd Governor of New York from 1983 to 1994, and is the father of Andrew Cuomo, the current governor of New York.-Early life:...

's 1984 keynote address, stating, "If he wrote that speech, then he should be president, because it's such a great speech. If he didn't, he should be president because he found such a great speechwriter." Martin Medhurst, a professor of rhetoric and communications at Baylor University
Baylor University
Baylor University is a private, Christian university located in Waco, Texas. Founded in 1845, Baylor is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.-History:...

, disagreed about it being better than Cuomo's, even if it was an exceptional performance. Stressing that it was too early to make any predictions, he noted that new political stars were not normally created because of keynote addresses.

Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw
Thomas John "Tom" Brokaw is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors...

 asked rhetorically whether Obama or Kerry would be the man more remembered from the convention, while CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

's Jeff Greenfield
Jeff Greenfield
Jeff Greenfield is an American television journalist and author.-Biography:He was born in New York City to parents Benjamin and Helen. He grew up in Manhattan and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1960. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in...

 called it "one of the really great keynote speeches of the last quarter-century." Howard Fineman
Howard Fineman
Howard Fineman is an American journalist who is senior politics editor at the Huffington Post. Prior to his move to Huffington Post in October 2010, he was Newsweek’s Chief Political Correspondent, Senior Editor and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief. An award-winning writer, Fineman also is an NBC...

 noted that Obama's emphasis on parents, not government in teaching children was the same kind of language that could have been heard amongst Republicans. Rice University
Rice University
William Marsh Rice University, commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, is a private research university located on a heavily wooded campus in Houston, Texas, United States...

 historian Douglas Brinkley
Douglas Brinkley
Douglas Brinkley is an American author, professor of history at Rice University and a fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy. Brinkley is the history commentator for CBS News and a contributing editor to the magazine Vanity Fair...

 stated, "Obama trumped Bill Clinton. Clinton gave a good speech yesterday. Obama was better. That's hard to do in American politics."

Newspapers


The day after the speech, a Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

editorial declared Obama "The Phenom". The Washington Times
The Washington Times
The Washington Times is a daily broadsheet newspaper published in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. It was founded in 1982 by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon, and until 2010 was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the...

acknowledged that it would likely disagree with Obama's policies, but compared with John Edwards' speech, "his sentiments had a freshness and a realness that Mr. Edwards' lacked." A reporter for Britain's The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

declared that the mantle of who was most likely to be the first black president
African American candidates for president of the United States
Major party African American candidates for President of the United States did not run in primaries until nearly the third quarter of the 20th century, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act opened up political participation to blacks in the South...

 had passed from Colin Powell
Colin Powell
Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military...

 to Obama, though another was left unimpressed, finding the speech "disappointingly free of original thought". Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

's The Nation
Daily Nation
The Daily Nation is a Kenyan independent newspaper. It is the most influential newspaper in Kenya with a daily circulation of about 205,000 copies. The total readership is likely to be higher as each copy is read by a large number of people...

also covered the speech, and noted his use of biography, particularly his Kenyan heritage. A columnist for Christian Science Monitor acknowledged that many aspects of his speech were typical of political speeches, but that Obama had managed to make it appear as though they were something new and exciting. Speaking of the broadcast networks that had not covered the address, the column said, "They missed the national debut of what could be one of the most exciting and important voices in American politics in the next half century."

Politicians


Obama's fellow Illinois Democrats praised him after the speech. Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan
Michael Madigan
Michael J. Madigan is the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois...

 reacted by saying, "He is a star...For Barack, the sky's the limit," while Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley
Richard M. Daley
Richard Michael Daley is a United States politician, member of the national and local Democratic Party, and former Mayor of Chicago, Illinois. He was elected mayor in 1989 and reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. He was the longest serving Chicago mayor, surpassing the tenure of his...

 said, "He hit a grand slam home run." Senate President Emil Jones
Emil Jones
Emil Jones, Jr. was the President of the Illinois Senate from 2003 to 2009. A Democrat, Jones served in the Illinois Senate from 1983 to 2009, where he served as President of the Illinois Senate from 2003 to the end of his term...

 responded, "It was such a moving speech that I had tears in my eyes...It was electrifying. When I looked around the room, all across the people were so emotional, tears in their eyes. They're crying. A great individual, a great Illinoisan." Governor Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich
Rod R. Blagojevich is an American politician who served as the 40th Governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009. A Democrat, Blagojevich was a State Representative before being elected to the United States House of Representatives representing parts of Chicago...

 stated, "After the speech last night, I would think that even if he had an opponent, he might get 100 percent of the vote." Former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun
Carol Moseley Braun
Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun is an American feminist politician and lawyer who represented Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999. She was the first and to date only African-American woman elected to the United States Senate, the first woman to defeat an incumbent senator in an...

 said, "Obama represents the best of what we brought from our generation...he represents a kind of division within the Democratic Party. It's not the old left."

New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 Senator Hillary Clinton was quoted saying, "I thought that was one of the most electrifying moments that I can remember at any convention." Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 Representative Artur Davis
Artur Davis
Artur Genestre Davis is a former member of the United States House of Representatives for , serving from 2003 to 2011 when he was succeeded by Terri Sewell, also a member of the Democratic Party....

 pushed the idea of Obama running for president, stating, "If anyone can do it, Obama can...Obama may help break down the stereotypes that an African-American politician is someone only for other blacks...When Obama runs for the White House, he will run not as a candidate for blacks. He has the capacity to run as a candidate for everyone."

Academics


In an article entitled "An Immigrant's Dream and the Audacity of Hope" in the American Behavioral Scientist
American Behavioral Scientist
American Behavioral Scientist is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers in the field of Psychology. The journal's editor is Laura Lawrie. It has been in publication since 1957 and is currently published by SAGE Publications.- Scope :...

, Babak Elahi and Grant Cos compare Obama's speech to the one given by California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

 at the 2004 Republican National Convention
2004 Republican National Convention
The 2004 Republican National Convention, the presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party of the United States, took place from August 30 to September 2, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York...

, both utilizing an "immigrant dream narrative". They add that in Obama's shift from his own biography to that of John Kerry, he was able to make it as if Kerry, through his service to the country, was an "honorary immigrant", as if he had too had chosen to be an American citizen.

In "Recasting the American Dream and American Politics", Robert C. Rowland and John M. Jones, two professors of communications, argue that the disconnect between what policies the majority of the American public reported supporting (more liberal) and the political label the plurality used to describe themselves as (conservative) had to do with the fact that America's romantic narrative, the search for the American Dream
American Dream
The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each...

, had become closely associated with Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 and conservatives, and that in a keynote address unremarkable in its basic themes, Obama sought to recast the narrative as one associated with liberals. Whereas Reagan's narrative focused heavily on individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

, Obama used the metaphor of hope to call for a balance between those individual values and community values
Communitarianism
Communitarianism is an ideology that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community. That community may be the family unit, but it can also be understood in a far wider sense of personal interaction, of geographical location, or of shared history.-Terminology:Though the term...

, the latter also being necessary for the achievement of the American Dream.

David A. Frank at the University of Oregon
University of Oregon
-Colleges and schools:The University of Oregon is organized into eight schools and colleges—six professional schools and colleges, an Arts and Sciences College and an Honors College.- School of Architecture and Allied Arts :...

 compares Obama's speech with the one given by Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton
Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton, Jr. is an American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and television/radio talk show host. In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election...

 at the same convention, stating that while Sharpton did not stray beyond familiar themes of African American trauma, Obama broadened his scope to include all races and classes in a narrative that "harkened back to the Roosevelt-Johnson legacy of shared purpose and coalition..." In an alternative reading, Mark Lawrence McPhail criticizes Obama, stating that his "reduction of black trauma to 'slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs'" romanticizes the historical realities of black suffering and borders on the stereotypical image of the "'happy darkie' of traditional racism", and that his speech did not contribute to an open conversation about racism that is ultimately necessary for racial reconciliation.

Audience


Roughly 9.1 million people were reported to have watched the Democratic convention on the night of the speech, ratings which were described as "tepid" by Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

, as it only amounted to "about half the audience tuning in to regularly scheduled summer programming the week before", and was less than the 10.3 million people who tuned in to the second night of the 2000 DNC. However, neither ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

, CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

, nor NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 provided any coverage of the convention that night (some Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 affiliates did broadcast Obama's speech), leading to criticism from some columnists. But with major networks not covering the evening's events, other stations received greater viewership, including 3 million viewers for PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

, followed by CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

, Fox News, and MSNBC
MSNBC
MSNBC is a cable news channel based in the United States available in the US, Germany , South Africa, the Middle East and Canada...

.

Aftermath


That night Fox News reported that people had been taking the Obama signs from the convention floor as keepsakes, whereas many signs for Teresa Heinz-Kerry were still on the floor.

In an interview with JET
Jet (magazine)
Jet is an American weekly marketed toward African-American readers, founded in 1951 by John H. Johnson of Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois...

, Obama acknowledged that the speech had exceeded peoples' expectations and that he felt encouraged by the fact that many people appeared to respond to the themes of common values and working together. When asked about all the presidential speculation, Obama responded, "I just need to win the Senate right now."

After easily defeating Alan Keyes
Alan Keyes
Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

 to win his Senate seat and being sworn into office on January 4, 2005, Obama wrote his latest book, The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by then-Senator Barack Obama. In the fall of 2006 it became number one on both the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. In the book, Obama expounds on...

, which was released in October 2006. Despite initially saying that he had no immediate plans to run for president and would serve out his full Senate term, Obama would go on to run
Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008
Barack Obama, then junior United States Senator from Illinois, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in Springfield, Illinois, on February 10, 2007. On August 27, 2008, he was declared nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2008 presidential election...

 for and be elected
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

 the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, becoming the first African American to be elected to the nation's highest office.

External links


  • Video of entire speech from C-SPAN
    C-SPAN
    C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

  • Prepared remarks versus Transcript of speech