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Page last updated at 01:34 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 02:34 UK
Obama launches historic campaign



LIVE COMMENTARY
By Jude Sheerin
BBC News

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Barack Obama speaks at the Denver Broncos stadium on 28 August 2008

2202 PS: We will doing another live commentary on next week's Republican convention. Do join us to put in your tuppence worth!

2150 So, voters across America are now mulling whether there was enough meaty substance in Obama's silver-tongued words to clinch their ballot? They have less than 10 weeks to decide. After 19 months of shadow boxing, the real campaign for the White House has begun. Let battle be joined! Roll on the first Obama v McCain toe-to-toe debate on 26 September!

Comment from blogger
2141 Michael Crowley of The New Republic: "This convention was initially diverted by the Clinton psychodrama and some initial muddling of the message. But now, I suspect, it will be remembered for catharsis - and, above all, for Obama's terrific, confident, inspiring moment of grace."

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2140 Andres Jimenez, Bogota, Colombia: "I can't stand seeing all these worldwide liberals and American democrats buying all this 'messiah' setup some of us are hardly enduring. He should advice Chavez's 'aló, presidente' and Fidel's speeches. Or was it the other way around?"

Comment from blogger
2038 Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo: "I've heard a few people say that he seemed to hold back from giving the soaring speech he might have given. But I suspect that was intentional and I think a good decision. Meta-themes and tonality form the deeper structure of political communication. And the aim of this speech was not eloquence but strength."

Comment from blogger
2133 Jim Geraghty of The National Review: "Obama was bitter. Clinging, I guess you could say... Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if Obama won. He's promising the moon, the sun, the stars... Sometimes, the American people have to see that ideas that sound too good to be true always are, and that command-and-control big government doesn't work."

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2130 Michael Rossi, New York: "I've voted Republican nearly all my life - I'm still a proud Ron Paul supporter. But Obama has clearly convinced me he is a far better candidate than McCain, who is basically George Bush with intelligence (and that might be even more dangerous)."

Comment from blogger
2129 Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic: "This is a remarkable man at a vital moment. America would be crazy to throw this opportunity away. America must not throw this opportunity away. Know hope."

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2125 Jim Nordblom, Oregon, United States: "I am a 63 year old Republican. I have voted Republican since Goldwater. I voted twice for Bush, and I apologize to the entire world for that. Obama's speech was the most incredible I have heard in my lifetime. I will proudly cast my vote for him, and I pray that my country will follow my example."

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2124 Rick Choi, Los Angeles: "I just finished listening to Obama's speech and all I can say is, 'Wow!' This was the most important speech of his public life so far and he delivered."

2123 There are many Democratic supporters still in the stadium basking in the post-rhetorical glow. "This is history, this is just so exciting," says one lady.

2114 Now the pundits are dissecting the speech word by word. General consensus so far that a rare apparent flash of anger from Obama in his angry defence of Democratic foreign policy has played well.

He said: "We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country."

Justin Webb
2105 The BBC's Justin Webb: "Conclusion: This needed to be a serious speech and it was. I'm still not sure about the Doric columns, but he's managed to be convincing despite the overbearing backdrop... One of the features of the speech was the frequent reference to the future. He's not saying McCain's too old for the job - at least not in so many words. But the Obama camp know that Americans are worried about McCain's age and ever so subtly they are making an allusion to it."

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2104 Jason Garcia, Atlanta, United States: "Obama had the opportunity of a life time to bring republicans and independents together...instead he sounded like a partisan hack...what a wasted opportunity!"

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2103 seanhackbarth (formerly of Fred Thompson's campaign) tweets: "No smile at the end? I thought he was reading up on Reagan speeches in preparation."

Comment from blogger
2102 Ezra Klein of The American Prospect: "This has been the most aggressive speech of the week. And the most substantive I've seen Obama give. It's not a thematic address: It's not about hope or values or the universality of the American experience of the illusory obstacles that divide us. It's concrete..."

2059 In a hailstorm of confetti, Obama is joined on stage by his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia Ann, 10, and Sasha, seven, and his vice-presidential running mate Senator Joe Biden and his wife Jill.

2058 Fireworks go off above the stage and the BBC's Katty Kay in Denver reassures television viewers it's pyrotechnics, not gunshots.

2057 Obama signs off saying: "God bless America". The crowd have gone wild.

2055 Obama is saying: "America our dreams can be one... America we cannot turn back... We cannot walk alone, we must pledge once more to march into the future, let us keep that promise."

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2054 shaunking tweets: "Obama is now making the case that he will be a world leader and not a isolationist with few friends in the world."

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2053 spaceyG in Atlanta tweets: "Folks pounding tables now. Free money for all!"

Justin Webb
2053 The BBC's Justin Webb: "A reprise of his very successful 2004 convention speech - there are no Red States or Blue States - only the United States. (Plus - the crowd are chanting USA-USA - usually heard at Republican conventions.)"

2051 "I realise I'm not the likeliest candidate for this office, I don't fit the typical pedigree.. what the naysayers don't understand is this election has never been about me. It's about you." "Change doesn't come from Washington, it comes to Washington."

Here come the preacher-like cadences, speaking to a crescendo.

2047 He's back in full-blown post-partisan mode, reprising his 2004 convention speech hymn of unity.

2046 Checking off a laundry list of foreign policy challenges piling up on his Oval Office inbox if elected: Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Georgia.

2044 Obama says McCain is stuck "in the past" - a possible subtle reference to his septuagenarian rival's age? McCain turns 72 on Friday.

Justin Webb
2043 The BBC's Justin Webb:"A very interesting choice of word there - on who would make the better Commander-in-Chief, he asked who had the better temperament. What could he mean?

Justin Webb
2043 The BBC's Justin Webb: "Great Bin Laden line - "John McCain says he'd follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives."

Justin Webb
2041 The BBC's Justin Webb: "A good line on health. About how he watched his mother arguing on the phone with insurance companies as she lay in bed dying of cancer - an experience familiar to many Americans."

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2040 Nathan McConnell, Grantsburg, US: "Dawning of a new day... the greatness can return... America can turn the page and welcome new leadership... 'YES WE CAN' The soft music and sob story... So much emotion-so much hype!"

Justin Webb
2038 The BBC's Justin Webb: "Quite a brave line there on oil drilling. John McCain is proposing to open up America's coast for drilling, which has proved popular. Obama is sticking to his line that it's not a solution."

2038 "I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as your sons," Obama says after promising an "army of teachers". He is making lots of promises, Republicans will be asking if he can keep them and if they're costed to the last dime.

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2037 seanhackbarth tweets: "The non-sequiters are amazing. This speech isn't meeting the hype."

Justin Webb
2037 The BBC's Justin Webb: "He's chosen to lead off on economic themes (which is no surprise). The way he phrases it is so important - he needs to hit home to individuals in mainstream America. I'm not sure he has Biden's touch."

Comment from blogger
2036 Jim Geraghty of The National Review: "The Obama biographical video is very well done, but it's somewhat easy to see the seams. Footage of Patton's army. The landing of the astronauts in the ocean. Lots and lots of pictures of the family... Translation: I'm not strange or exotic or alien. I'm normal American. I'm patriotic."

2035 "Now is the time to end this [oil] addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close."

McCain's recent call for new offshore drilling became a wedge issue, with Obama being accused of a flip-flop when he said he supported limited new drilling, after analysts said he had previously opposed any.

Justin Webb
2035 The BBC's Justin Webb: "By the way - it's a stunning evening here in Denver. I mention this because some fundamentalist Christians of a right-wing persuasion prayed for rain - proof that God is a Democrat?"

2033 One of the biggest cheers so far when he said: "I will set a clear goal as president: in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East."

2032 "That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president."

Obama aims to show how he will actually bring about change, the leitmotif of his campaign, rather than just simply embodying the abstract noun.

2027 More respect to Bill Clinton: "We [Democrats] measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president."

Comment from blogger
2027 Michael Crowley of The New Republic: "That Stirring Obama Video: It was a real triumph. Moving and poignant without descending into schmaltz. The emphasis on Kansas, Patton's Army, and the Dunham family was expected, and surely necessary, but still quite well executed. The bit about his 'aging grandparents' ought to go over especially well with holdout older voters."

2026 Obama: "I don't believe that McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of ordinary Americans, I just believe he's doesn't know… McCain doesn't get it." Translation: McCain is elitist and out-of-touch.

2023 Obama says McCain is unable to deliver change: "John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time. Sen McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush was right more than 90% of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a 10% chance on change."

FYI: According to a Washington Post database, Obama votes with his party 96% of the time, making him the eleventh most partisan member of the Senate.

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2022 stealingsand tweets: "finally, he accepted. thought that would never happen"

2021 He mentions the Republican convention next week: "We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight," says Obama, keeping with the Democratic convention theme of portraying a McCain presidency as a third Bush term.

2020 Blaming America's economic woes on Bush, Obama goes on to implore: "America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this."

2019 Obama says: "Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay and tuition that is beyond your reach."

As well as setting the context for the electoral battle to come, Obama's trying to tell Americans he feels their pain (some critics have said he struggles to make genuine connections with voters).

2018 He goes on to talk about his white Kansan mother and Kenyan father and their shared belief that in America "through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well".

2016 He doffs his cap to the Clintons, who have unambiguously endorsed him. Suddenly the psychodrama of the primary season battle and its aftermath seem a millennium away.

2015 The crowd goes ballistic as Obama says: "With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States."

Justin Webb
2012 The BBC's Justin Webb: "He strides out very purposefully, dressed very formally - presidentially, wearing a white shirt and a restrained red tie. The look is sober and that's important."

2012 As he walks down the 20-yard runway toward the lectern, under the dramatic backdrop of the all-American Rocky Mountain sky, Obama has plenty to contemplate. After a gruelling 19-month campaign he is about to make what has been billed as the most important speech of his career. Question is: Will he deliver?

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2011 Arder in Belfast, Northern Ireland: Martin Luther King had a "dream" but I don't think "Obama" figured in it!"

Comment from blogger
2010 Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo: "If you're bummed about not getting a ticket to watch the Obama speech at the Invesco Center, you'll be happy to know they're still giving away tickets for John McCain's veep announcement tomorrow at the aptly-named 12,000 seat Nutter Center."

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2005 Andrea in New York: "Obama will demonstrate his greatest talent tonight."

2003 As an obscure state senator at the Democratic convention in Boston in 2004, Obama delivered a 17-minute address, which catapulted him onto the national stage. That electrifying address focused on America's divisiveness. After his campaign was almost derailed earlier this year by the Rev Jeremiah Wright furore, will Obama now reach out to re-connect with those Republicans who were briefly mesmerised by his evangelical message of unity?

2001 Speech-making is what Obama does best but pundits tonight say they don't expect lashings of high-falutin' oratory. Analysts are expecting more "Obama-nomics", a finely-tuned, nuts-and-bolts message of fiscal populism and kitchen-table issues, how Obama proposes to actually help America's cash-strapped working-classes.

Comment from blogger
2000 Michael Crowley of The New Republic: "On first read Obama's speech strikes me for the simplicity of its core. For most of the way, there are no lyrical flights or poetic riffs here... But you can't leave a crowd like that with nothing, so the speech does close on a loftier note... On paper it looks like a good balance. We'll see how it works shortly."

1953 A palpable sense of history tonight. The last US presidential candidate to deliver a nomination acceptance speech in a sports stadium was JFK (1960), with whom Obama is often compared. And it's the 45th anniversary of the Rev Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech.

Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights legend, earlier addressed the crowds. And he told CNN that Obama's speech would be "a monumental occasion in our nation's history, certainly for black people, but I think for all Americans".

Comment from blogger
1950 Ben Smith of Politico.com: "Obama wasn't able to roll out a major Republican endorser at this convention - Eisenhowers don't really count as apostates any more - so he gives prime time to a pair of Republicans in the last two slots. The core message isn't about Obama's biography or his character: It's that American workers can't take more GOP economic policy."

1945 The BBC's Jamie Coomarasamy: "This has been a mixture of show business, politics and history here at the Denver Broncos stadium... There is a huge sense of expectation here."

1943 Btw, those faux Greek columns on stage, the McCain campaign is calling it the "Temple of Obama". The Obama rebuttal unit said President Bush also used classical columns at his convention four years ago. Isn't it ionic? (Ancient Greek architecture gag for you there; I know I should get out more.)

PS: The Denver Post is reporting other reports that tonight's stage was constructed by the same team that built Britney Spears' last concert set. An unfortunate coincidence if true, given the recent Republican ad juxtaposing images of that pop star alongside Obama and deriding him as "the biggest celebrity in the world".

Comment from blogger
1940 Ezra Klein of The American Prospect: "The closest thing to a unifying theme has been the line, repeated often, that McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time. But that's supporting evidence, not a brand for the attack. As such, there's been no particular shorthand that Democrats have used to tie all their speeches and attacks together, which has made the convention feel a bit disjointed..."

1937 Al Gore addressed the audience earlier. Eight years ago, he accepted the nomination at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles during his doomed run for president. Obama, then a political nobody, barely managed to blag his way in that day to look on from the sidelines. Tonight it's the junior senator's turn.

Comment from blogger

1930 Jim Geraghty of The National Review: "I can't help but suspect that Team Obama is going with what they're best at - spectacle and pageantry. The packed stadium, the rock stars, thousands upon thousands chanting his name... Ironically, at a time when disgruntled folks in the focus groups are saying they're tiring of the glitz and glamor and want specifics and details, saying 'it's time for a change,' all the Obama campaign has to offer is 'more of the same'."

1929 The warm-up acts so far at the Denver Broncos' football stadium have included singers Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, will.i.am and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson. But Obama aides have reportedly sought to play down any "rock star theme", following Republican claims he is an aloof and vacuous celebrity.

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1928 shaunking in Atlanta tweets: "How real and how fair is the democracy of our beautifully diverse country if every single president is a white man?"

Comment from blogger
1925 Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic:
"As the regular folk get caught by the camera, you see them go nuts and wave their flags; you see black, white, yellow, young, old, men, women, gays, straights chatting and milling as they would at a concert or sports event. It normalizes an otherwise alienating political event... it comes off as a mass gathering of ordinary people."

Hi, I'm Jude Sheerin in the BBC world news room. We'll be providing a running account of Barack Obama's speech at the climax of the Democratic Party convention in Denver, referring to some of your emails, and with commentary from the BBC's North America editor Justin Webb at the Invesco stadium.



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