Excerpts of Democrat Barack Obama's speech after winning Saturday's South Carolina primary, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions.
Over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country's desire for something new, who said Iowa was a fluke, not to be repeated again.
Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.
After four — after four great contests, in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates and the most diverse coalition of Americans that we've seen in a long, long time.
You can see it in the faces here tonight. There are young and old, rich and poor. They are black and white, Latino and Asian and Native American.
They are Democrats from Des Moines and independents from Concord and, yes, some Republicans from rural Nevada. And we've got young people all across this country who have never had a reason to participate until now.
And in nine days, in nine short days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business as usual in Washington. We are hungry for change and we are ready to believe again.
Make no mistake about what we're up against. We're up against the belief that it's all right for lobbyists to dominate our government, that they are just part of the system in Washington.
But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem and this election is our chance to say that we are not going to let them stand in our way anymore.
We're up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor and judgment and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose, a higher purpose.
We're up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner. It's the kind of partisanship where you're not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea, even if it's one you never agreed with.
That's the kind of politics that is bad for our party, it is bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.
We're up against the idea that it's acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. But we know that this is exactly what's wrong with our politics. This is why people don't believe what their leaders say anymore. This is why they tune out.
And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.
The change we seek has always required great struggle and great sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we're willing to work for it.
So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. Change will take time. There will be setbacks and false starts and sometimes we'll make mistakes.
But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope, because there are people all across this great nation who are counting on us, who can't afford another four years without health care, that can't afford another four years without good schools, that can't afford another four years without decent wages because our leaders couldn't come together and get it done.
The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It's not about rich versus poor, young versus old. And it is not about black versus white.
This election is about the past versus the future. It's about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today or whether we reach for a politics of common sense and innovation, a politics of shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.
There are those who will continue to tell us that we can't do this, that we can't have what we're looking for, that we can't have what we want, that we're peddling false hopes.
Don't tell me we can't change.
Yes, we can. Yes, we can change. Yes, we can.
Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can seize our future. And as we leave this great state with a new wind at our backs and we take this journey across this great country, a country we love, with the message we carry from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire, from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast, the same message we had when we were up and when we were down, that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we will hope.
And where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words: Yes, we can.
Thank you, South Carolina. I love you.