Obama: 'Old Politics Just Won't Do'

Democratic contender frames two-person race as "past versus the future."

ByABC News
January 30, 2008, 10:51 AM

Jan. 30, 2008— -- In the city that will play host to the Democratic National Convention this summer, Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, today issued a clarion call for a new majority "of not just Democrats but Independents and Republicans to win in November."

In some of his strongest language to date, Obama used his speech before an estimated crowd of 18,000 at the University of Denver's Magness Arena, including two overflow areas, to make the case against his only remaining rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.

At times the applause was deafening.

Obama argued that the Democratic race is a contest of "the past versus the future," and he challenged Democrats to redefine the way politics is practiced not out of altruism but practicality. "Not by nominating a candidate who will unite the other party against us, but by choosing one who can unite this country around a movement for change."

"We can be a party that tries to beat the other side by practicing the same do-anything, say-anything, divisive politics that has stood in the way of progress, or we can be a party that puts an end to it," he said.

"I know it is tempting after another presidency by a man named George Bush to simply turn back the clock, and to build a bridge back to the 20th century," Obama said, paraphrasing an old slogan of President Bill Clinton.

"There are those who will tell us that our party should nominate someone who is more practiced in the art of pursuing power, that's it's not yet our turn, or our time." But, Obama said, "It is time for a new generation of leadership, because the old politics just won't do."

Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer took issue with the Illinois Senator's remarks. "Senator Obama doesn't sound like he's ready to practice the new politics he so often talks about."

"Today's speech was a greatest hits collection of all of the attacks Senator Obama has advanced against Senator Clinton throughout the campaign," Singer said.

Obama tried to shape a vision for the future today while also reaching back to a more idealistic past. Joining the candidate on the stage was Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the former president.

Introducing Obama, Kennedy said: "It's rare to find a leader who can inspire us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals, and to imagine that together we can do great things. And when that kind of leader comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible."