Obama: "Change has come to America"

In his victory speech, the president-elect thanks his supporters, recalls the campaign and looks toward the challenges to come.

By Alex Koppelman

Published November 5, 2008 5:25AM (EST)

Tuesday night, almost exactly a year after Barack Obama officially declared his candidacy, the president-elect got to stand in front of a cheering crowd in Chicago and give the last victory speech of the 2008 campaign.

"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," Obama said. "It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America."

The address Obama gave to his supporters wasn't much different, thematically, from those he made throughout his historic campaign. But there was, of course, a different sense to it, a feeling that this time he wasn't speaking as a candidate looking to get votes but as the next president, addressing the country he will lead beginning next January. In part, that meant a realistic look at the challenges that lay ahead of him.

"What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter must not 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 cannot happen without you," Obama said. "The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even 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. "

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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