Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., hugs his wife, Michelle Obama, after giving his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver last Thursday. (AP photo/Alex Brandon)
|Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. (left), his wife Michelle (right) and their daughters Malia, 10 (second from right), and Sasha, 7, take the stage after his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver last Thursday evening. (AP photo/Ron Edmonds)|
DENVER — Surrounded by an enormous, adoring crowd, Barack Obama promised a clean break from the “broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush” last Thursday night as he embarked on the final lap of his bid to become the nation’s first black president.
“America, now is not the time for small plans,” the 47-year-old Democratic Illinois senator told an estimated 84,000 people packed into Invesco Field, a huge football stadium at the base of the Rocky Mountains.
He vowed to cut taxes for nearly all working-class families, end the war in Iraq and break America’s dependence on Middle East oil within a decade. By contrast, he said, “John McCain has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time,” a scathing indictment of his Republican rival — on health care, education, the economy and more.
Polls indicate a close race between Obama and McCain, the Arizona senator who stands between him and a place in history. On a night 45 years after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, Obama made no overt mention of his own race.
“I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don’t fit the typical pedigree” of a presidential candidate was as close as he came to the long-smoldering issue that may well determine the outcome of the election.
Fireworks lit the night sky as Obama, his speech concluded, accepted the cheers of supporters. His wife, Michelle, and their daughters Malia and Sasha joined him as the country music anthem “Only in America” filled the stadium. Vice presidential running mate Joseph Biden and his wife Jill joined them onstage.
Depicted by McCain as too young and inexperienced to sit in the Oval Office, Obama responded with an oblique reference to his rival’s temper.
“If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next commander in chief, that’s a debate I’m ready to have,” he said.
Campaigning as an advocate of a new kind of politics, he suggested at least some common ground was possible on abortion, gun control, immigration and gay marriage.
Obama delivered his 44-minute nomination acceptance speech in an unrivaled convention setting, before a crowd of unrivaled size — the filled stadium, the camera flashes in the night, the made-for-television backdrop that suggested the White House, and the thousands of convention delegates seated around the podium in an enormous semicircle.
Obama and his fellow senator, Biden of Delaware, left the convention city last Friday for Pennsylvania, the first stop on an eight-week sprint to Election Day.
Rep. John Lewis of Georgia spoke from the convention stage about the anniversary of King’s memorable speech.
“Tonight we are gathered here in this magnificent stadium in Denver because we still have a dream,” said the Georgia lawmaker, who marched with King, supported Obama’s primary rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then switched under pressure from younger black leaders in his home state and elsewhere.
Obama’s aides were interested in a different historical parallel from King — Obama was the first to deliver an outdoor convention acceptance speech since John F. Kennedy did so at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1960.
In his speech, Obama pledged to jettison Bush’s economic policy and replace it with his own, designed to help hard-pressed families.
“I will cut taxes for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class,” he said.(p2)
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