Obama vows to reverse Republican legacy

Denver | Updated: Aug 30 2008, 08:44am hrs
Barack Obama launched a sharp assault on Republican presidential rival John McCain on Thursday with a promise to reverse the economic failures of the past eight years and restore Americas global reputation.

The first black presidential nominee of a major U.S. party linked McCain directly to President George W. Bush and said their failed Republican policies were responsible for a faltering U.S. economy and a decline in U.S. standing in the world.

We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight, Obama told a flag-waving crowd of about 75,000 supporters in Denvers open-air football stadium as he accepted the Democratic nomination on the last night of the party convention.

On November 4th, we must stand up and say: Eight is enough, Obama said.

The speech opened a two-month sprint to the November 4 general election against McCain, who tried to steal a share of the limelight with word he had chosen his running mate and would appear with the choice on Friday in Ohio.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty were among the potential picks for McCain, who celebrates his 72nd birthday on Friday. He would be the oldest person elected president for a first term.

Obama and running mate Joe Biden also were scheduled to hit the campaign trail after Obama delivered his biggest speech in a career filled with big speeches on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther Kings I Have a Dream speech a landmark in the U.S. civil rights movement.

Obama said McCain, an Arizona senator, was out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of Americans and had been anything but independent on key issues like the economy, health care and education.

Now, I dont believe that Senator McCain doesnt care whats going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesnt know, said Obama, who had been urged by some Democrats to take a tougher line against McCain.

Senator 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 percent of the time Obama asked, citing McCains voting record in the U.S. Senate.

I dont know about you, but Im not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change, he said.

The televised acceptance speech by Obama gave the first-term Illinois senator his biggest national audience until he meets McCain in late September in the first of three debates. The two are running neck-and-neck in polls.

After the speech, the McCain campaign fought back.

Tonight, Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Senator Obama, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement. The fact remains, Obama is still not ready to be president.

The speech included some of the most direct attacks on McCain by Obama since the general election campaign started. Obama, whose patriotism has been the subject of Internet attacks, said the candidates should be able to disagree without destroying each others character.

Ive got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first, Obama said.

Obama, an early opponent of the Iraq war, promised to end this war in Iraq responsibly but said he would finish the fight against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and would be willing to use U.S. military power when necessary.

As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harms way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home, Obama said.

He chided McCain, a staunch advocate of the Iraq war, for saying he would pursue Osama bin Laden to the Gates of Hell. Obama said McCains focus on Iraq had let al Qaeda and bin Laden escape in Afghanistan.

John McCain likes to say that hell follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell but he wont even go to the cave where he lives, he said.

Reuters