A Look Back At Obama's Past Convention Speeches President Obama delivered his fourth DNC speech last night — 12 years ago to the day he took to the national stage as a candidate for Senate.
NPR logo A Look Back At Obama's Past Convention Speeches

A Look Back At Obama's Past Convention Speeches

Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Obama hugs Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton after addressing the delegates during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

President Obama took the Democratic National Convention stage in Philadelphia Wednesday evening — his last as a sitting U.S. president.

The president urged America to join him in rejecting cynicism and fear and to elect Hillary Clinton as his successor.

"And that's why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, nobody, more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America."

Obama's remarks Wednesday contrasted with the speeches delivered at the Republican National Convention last week. (This might not come as a surprise since partisans' views of the opposing party are the most negative they've been in nearly a quarter century.)

"The irresponsible rhetoric of our president, who has used the pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color, has made America a more dangerous environment that frankly that I have ever seen of anybody in this room has ever watched or seen," Trump said in his own acceptance speech, arguing that only he alone could restore law and order to the nation.

Obama struck a vastly different tone, proclaiming, "America is already great. America is already strong."

It was 12 years ago that America was first introduced to the then-little-known Illinois Senate hopeful whose soaring oratory at the 2004 Democratic convention thrust him into the national spotlight.

"And it's true — I was so young that first time in Boston. And look, I'll admit it, maybe I was a little nervous addressing such a big crowd," Obama recalled on Wednesday. "But I was filled with faith; faith in America — the generous, big-hearted, hopeful country that made my story — that made all of our stories — possible."

Just four years later, he would be standing before the convention accepting the Democratic nomination, and again four years later for renomination. In all those speeches, Obama seems to carry a similar theme: all for one and one for all. (And Obama also seems to be a U2 fan because he has come out to their song "City of Blinding Lights" at every DNC since 2008.) Watch his speeches below:


C-SPAN YouTube

Boston, 2004

"If there's a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.

"If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent.

"If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

"It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brothers' keeper, I am my sisters' keeper — that makes this country work.

"It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: 'E pluribus unum,' out of many, one."

C-SPAN YouTube

Denver, 2008

"And it is that promise that, 45 years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher speak of his dream.

"The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustrations of so many dreams deferred.

"But what people heard instead — people of every creed and color, from every walk of life — is that, in America, our destiny is inextricably linked, that together our dreams can be one."

Charlotte, 2012

C-SPAN YouTube

"We, the people — recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only, what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

"As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us, together — through the hard and frustrating but necessary work for self-government. That's what we believe."

Philadelphia, 2016

PBS YouTube

"What makes us American, what makes us patriots, is what's in here. That's what matters. And that's why we can take the food and music and holidays and styles of other countries, and blend it into something uniquely our own. That's why we can attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe to build new factories and create new industries here. That's why our military can look the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged into common service. That's why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.

"That is America. That is America. Those bonds of affection; that common creed. We don't fear the future; we shape it, we embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own."