Senator Barack Obama, besides giving specifics of the change he wants to bring to Washington, went right after Republican rival John McCain in his acceptance speech tonight.
To McCain's solutions for the faltering economy, Obama retorted: "Itís not because John McCain doesnít care. Itís because John McCain doesnít get it."
"Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year?" Obama explained. "How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100million Americans? How else could he offer a healthcare plan that would actually tax peopleís benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?"
To McCain's jibes at him as a celebrity, Obama hit back: "I donít know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine."
"When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed," Obama recounted. "And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. Sheís the one who taught me about hard work. Sheís the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that sheís watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well."
On the debate over the Iraq war, Obama said: "If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, thatís a debate Iím ready to have."
"For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face," Obama added. "When John McCain said we could just 'muddle through' in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. You know, John McCain likes to say that heíll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell -- but he wonít even follow him to the cave where he lives."
To criticism of his national security credentials, Obama argued: "We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past."
"You donít defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq," Obama said. "You donít protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You canít truly stand up for Georgia when youíve strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice -- but that is not the change America needs."
And to attacks on his patriotism, Obama replied: "Iíve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first."
"So let us agree that patriotism has no party," Obama added. "I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America -- they have served the United States of America."
The McCain campaign issued this response: "Tonight, Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barack Obama. When the temple comes down, the fireworks end, and the words are over, the facts remain: Senator Obama still has no record of bipartisanship, still opposes offshore drilling, still voted to raise taxes on those making just $42,000 per year, and still voted against funds for American troops in harm's way. The fact remains: Barack Obama is still not ready to be President."
UPDATE: Obama's former rival, Hillary Clinton, also weighed in, issuing a statement: "Barack Obamaís speech tonight laid out his specific, bold solutions and optimistic vision for our nation and our children's future. ďHis speech crystallized the clear choice between he and Senator McCain. Four more years of the same failed policies or a leader who can tackle the great challenges we face: revitalizing our economy and restoring our standing in the world. I am proud to support Senator Obama, our next President of the United States and Joe Biden, our next Vice President of the United States."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.