Obama Attacks McCain's Strength, Weakness Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama made history Thursday night by accepting his party's nomination for the presidency. He's the first black American to hold such a major party nomination. To the cheers of an estimated 84,000 people at Denver's Invesco Field, Obama said America has had "enough" of broken politics and doesn't want John McCain to continue "the failed policies of George W. Bush."
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Obama Attacks McCain's Strength, Weakness

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Obama Attacks McCain's Strength, Weakness

Obama Attacks McCain's Strength, Weakness

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Barack Obama's convention speech last night reflected a truism of modern politics. You don't just attack an opponent's weakness. You attack an opponent's strength. A famous example came in 2004, when Republican denounced John Kerry's reputation as a war hero. Last night, Barack Obama was defending himself against attacks and also questioning one of John McCain's perceived strengths. It was McCain's experience on national security issues. NPR's Don Gonyea was watching the speech at a stadium in Denver.

DON GONYEA: The crowd had been in place for hours, gradually filling the massive Invesco Field over the course of the afternoon. They cheered speeches by former Vice President Al Gore and others and they danced in their seats to live musical performances by the likes of Motown great Stevie Wonder. But when Senator Barack Obama finally stepped onto the stage, the place lit up.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION, AUGUST 28, 2008)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

GONYEA: The joyous reception in part reflected the historic nature of the evening, on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech. Here stood Barack Obama, an African-American, uttering the following words.

OBAMA: With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for presidency of the United States.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: In his speech, Obama set about the task of defining just why the country needs change in the White House. He spoke of an economy where more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less.

OBAMA: These challenges are not all of government's making, but the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

GONYEA: Obama said that electing John McCain will mean more of the same.

OBAMA: We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: On November 4th - on November 4th we must stand up and say, eight is enough.

GONYEA: Obama predicted that at next week's Republican convention, Senator McCain will highlight his independent streak and the times he's broken from his party.

OBAMA: But the record is clear. John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time?

GONYEA: Last night, Senator Obama's strongest attacks on McCain came in the area of national security. He said John McCain deserves respect for wearing the uniform of the country with bravery, a reference to McCain's time as a POW. But Obama questioned McCain's judgment on the Iraq war and other matters.

OBAMA: You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and detour Iran just by talking tough in Washington.

GONYEA: And Senator Obama directly confronted what has long been a Republican line of attack on Democrats - that they are weak in national security.

OBAMA: We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So, don't tell me the Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me the Democrats won't keep us safe.

GONYEA: Looking out of the huge crowd, Obama spoke of the journey he has taken since declaring his then underdog candidacy 19 months ago. His name and his background make him, quote, "not the likeliest candidate for this office."

OBAMA: But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's about you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: It was a speech with high expectations, and judging by the audience response, Obama met them. Afterward, at an appearance before a gathering of backers, he acknowledged that next week in Minneapolis, Republicans will turn the tables and have their share of fun at the expense of Democrats. But then, he said, the battle will be on for the final intense two months of the campaign. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Denver.

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