In a speech filled with promises of generational change and a better America, Barack Obama has accepted the Democratic nomination for president.
Obama, speaking to more than 84,000 cheering people in a crowded football stadium, called for a renewal of the American spirit.
"We meet at one of those defining moments – a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more," Obama will say, according to an advance copy of his speech released by his campaign.
"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," he said.
"America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this."
The first African American to win a major party's presidential nomination, Obama spoke on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The election "is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive — because next week in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third," Obama said.
In the address, Obama promised to cut taxes for most Americans — not mentioning that he wants to raise them on a small percentage of high-income taxpayers. He also promised to end the war in Iraq, overhaul the nation's energy policy and "restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom."
"Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves," he said.
"Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work."
His fall rival, presumptive GOP nominee John McCain, was a regular target of criticism.
"John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time. Sen. 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% of the time?" Obama asked.
"Now, I don?t believe that Sen. McCain doesn?t care what?s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn?t know," Obama said.
"It?s not because John McCain doesn?t care. It?s because John McCain doesn?t get it."
In a bit of counter-programming, McCain's campaign put out word Thursday that he had chosen his vice presidential nominee. The pick's identity was not disclosed, but one favorite — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — has canceled all public appearances for the next two days, the Associated Press reported.
Obama also covered defense issues.
"As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's 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." he said.
Obama promised to "end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan."
Earlier in Thursday's convention session, former vice president Al Gore said the Bush administration has "led our nation into one calamity after another" and said a McCain administration will do the same.
"If you like the Bush/Cheney approach, John McCain's your man. If you want change, then vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden," Gore said.
Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, the slain civil rights leader's daughter and son, both spoke. Bernice King, a minister, said the Democrats had picked a nominee "not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. This is one of our nation's greatest defining moments."
"On this 45th anniversary of the march on Washington, and in honor of the legacies of my father and Bobby Kennedy, let us elect a leader who has heard the clarion call," Martin Luther King III said.
Supporters at the stadium earlier Thursday anxiously looked forward to Obama's address.
"I would sit in the bathroom here and listen to him over the radio," said Rosa Maria Chavez, 26, an alternate delegate from Lakewood, Colo. who was seated four rows from the top of the stadium. "Just knowing I'm this close is a thrill."
Meanwhile, McCain's spokesman said the presumptive Republican nominee would appear Friday with his yet-to-be-named running mate in Dayton, Ohio. McCain also released a commercial in which he congratulates Obama.
"Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed, so I wanted to stop and say congratulations," McCain says in the ad. "How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day.
"Tomorrow, we'll be back at it. But tonight, senator, job well done."
Contributing: Associated Press