Obama Wins; Clinton Stands Firm – Both Pledge a Greener America

ST. PAUL, Minnesota, June 4, 2008 (ENS) – The Democratic primary season officially ended Tuesday night as Senator Barack Obama declared victory before a jubilant crowd of some 17,000 at a rally at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul.

“This is America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past,” the Illinois senator told cheering supporters. “Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.”

Senator Barack Obama and his wife,
Michelle, applaud supporters in
St. Paul, Minnesota. June 3, 2008.
(Photo by Salvador García Bardon)

Obama acknowledged the accomplishments of his rival, Senator Hillary Clinton as he became the first black candidate in the nation’s history to be the presidential nominee of a major political party.

“You can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory,” he said. “When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen.”

Obama said, “Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Obama and Clinton have had their differences during this long primary campaign, but tonight they each said that the ways America uses energy will have to change in the near future.

“Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who created it,” said Obama, as he advocated “investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation.”

Speaking in her home state of New York, Clinton acknowledged the strength of her opponent, and then she highlighted similar issues when explaining “what Hillary wants.”

“I want an economy that works for all families,” she said. “That’s why I have been fighting to create millions of new jobs in clean energy and rebuilding our infrastructure, jobs to come to all of our states and urban and rural areas and suburban communities and small towns.”

Turning his attention to his next opponent, Obama deflected the critique of Republican presumptive nominee Senator John McCain of Arizona that he has not been to Iraq recently enough.

Instead, Obama said, it is McCain who would better understand the kind of change Americans want if he visited more places at home in America.

“Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can’t even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he’d understand that we can’t afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators,” Obama said.

“That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future – an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,” he said. “That’s the change we need.”

In New York, Clinton had a parallel message – the Bush years have left Americans impoverished.

Senator Hillary Clinton makes her way through
a crowd of supporters. June 3, 2008
(Photo credit unknown)

“For the past seven years, so many people in this country have felt invisible, like your president didn’t even really see you,” she said.

Then Clinton too sketched a picture of an energy-smart future that she says could replace today’s tough economy.

“I have seen the shuttered factories, the jobs shipped overseas, the families struggling to afford gas and groceries,” she said, “but I’ve also seen unions retraining workers to build energy efficient buildings, innovators designing cars that run on fuel cells and bio-fuels and electricity, cars that get more miles per gallon than ever before, cars that will cut the cost of driving, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and fight global warming.”

Speaking in Minneapolis from the Xcel Energy Center, the same building where the Republican National Convention will happen in September, Obama said, “The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people.”

In concluding, Obama presented his vision of what the future might hold and expressed confidence that both the economy and the environment could be healed.

“Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it,” he said, “then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

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