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Senator Barack Obama Speaks in Washington D.C. at AIPAC Conference
Aired June 4, 2008 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: She talks live this hour.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The oil surge fueling cuts at United. The airline grounding planes and slashing jobs today, Wednesday, June 4th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Well, the presidential primary season that seems to go on forever is over. One candidate making history and another making decisions. We are watching all of the players in the presidential race this morning. Barack Obama speaking to a pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington this morning. Obama claimed the democratic nomination last night after winning more than the required number of delegates. He is said to become the first African-American candidate to lead a major party ticket. Hillary Clinton still not conceding. She speaks to that same pro-Israel group this hour. Clinton says she will huddle with her advisers to decide her next move. Many supporters are pushing for her to be Obama's running mate and republican John McCain taking aim at Obama. In a speech last night, McCain said Obama represents the wrong kind of change. Let's get to the White House now and reaction from the White House to Senator Obama claiming the nomination. Clinching it last night. There is Elaine Quijano. Elaine, good morning.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Tony. Well, I can tell you just a few minutes ago in the off- camera briefing known as the morning gaggle, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said that President Bush congratulates Senator Obama for clinching the democratic nomination. She said that President Bush certainly knows full well from experience just how grueling a process this can be, of course, President Bush has been through not one but two campaigns himself. She says that Senator Obama came a long way and the president notes this a historic achievement showing that the United States has come a long way as well. We should also tell you that the president also through his spokeswoman again, not in a phone call, but through his spokeswoman offering congratulations to Senator Clinton for a "spirited campaign." But there you have it, Tony. The reaction from the current occupant of the White House. Of course, keep in mind this is a politician who pays close attention to what happens out on the campaign trail. A fascinating contest. Of course, it was. Congratulations to Senator Obama from President Bush through his spokeswoman. Tony.
HARRIS: And not in a phone call.
QUIJANO: Not in a phone call.
HARRIS: All right. Let's leave it there. Elaine Quijano at the White House. Elaine, thank you.
COLLINS: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton split the final two primaries. He won Montana. She took South Dakota. And a surge of superdelegates helps put Obama over the top. Details now from Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The long, grueling battle for the democratic nomination is over.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMED PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America.
ACOSTA: Barack Obama secured enough delegates to lay claim to the nomination making history as the first African-American to head a major party ticket. In front of a packed arena in Minnesota, Obama reached out to his democratic rival.
OBAMA: Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign. She has made history not just because she is a woman who has done what no woman has done before but because she is a leader who inspires millions of Americans.
ACOSTA: Clinton at a rally in New York congratulated Obama but did not concede.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight.
ACOSTA: Instead, she touted her accomplishments.
CLINTON: We won together the swing states necessary to get to 270 electoral votes.
ACOSTA: But she did acknowledge tough decisions ahead.
CLINTON: In the coming days, I will be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward.
ACOSTA: The end of the primaries also brought a taste of the battle ahead.
OBAMA: It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time as he did in the Senate last year.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You will hear from my opponent's campaign in every speech, in every interview, every press release, that I'm running for President Bush's third term. Why does Senator Obama believe that it is so important to repeat that idea over and over again? Because he knows it is very difficult to get Americans to believe something that they know is false.
ACOSTA (on-camera): John McCain is already making a play for those millions of voters supporting Hillary Clinton. Her backers say one effective way for Barack Obama to stop that from happening is to put her on the ticket. Jim Acosta, CNN, Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota.
HARRIS: You know many democrats consider in a dream ticket Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Some Clinton supporters are actively lobbying for her to be Obama's vice presidential pick. Among them, billionaire businessman and Clinton adviser Bob Johnson. He has written a letter urging the congressional black caucus to endorse Clinton for the number two spot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB JOHNSON, FOUNDER, B.E.T.: I believe Barack Obama can beat John McCain with another vice president. But I think if he wants a unified democratic party and the absolute certainty that these two dynamic leaders bring to the democratic party, we have the best chance of winning with Senator Obama at the top of the ticket and Senator Clinton as his vice president. My letter was not a pressure letter. My letter was an urge and an encouragement. As I said before, Senator Obama will make the decision based on what he thinks is in the best interest of the person who can help him win the election and most important, the person who can help them best govern when he is elected president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Johnson says Clinton knows about his campaign but didn't direct him to do it.
COLLINS: Barack Obama is still not officially the democratic nominee. Some details now on Obama's status. He is considered the presumptive nominee for the democratic party. Obama has won more than the 2,118 delegates needed to secure the nomination and will be officially nominated at the party's national convention in August.
HARRIS: Republican John McCain taking aim at Barack Obama's theme of change and McCain speaks later this morning and we will bring that to you live. In a speech last night he said the choices between the right change and the wrong change which he says Obama represents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Americans have seen me put aside partisan and personal interests to move this country forward. They haven't seen Senator Obama do the same. For all his fine words and all his promise he has never taken the hard but right course of risking his own interests for yours, of standing up against the partisan rancor on his side to stand up for our country. He is an impressive man who makes a great first impression. But he - but he hasn't been willing to make the tough calls. To challenge his party, to risk criticism from his supporters, to bring real change to Washington, I have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: McCain also says Obama lacks the experience to be a war time commander in chief. COLLINS: United Airlines grounding 100 planes. And cutting as many as 1,600 jobs, tough times for air travel.
Here with our "Energy Fix" on this morning's breaking news, Poppy Harlow. Hi there, Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you said it. Airlines are in serious trouble. United is the latest to make a major move, cutting costs. Forced to act by those record high jet fuel prices and those action that you're setting include cutting a number of planes and slashing some jobs. Let's break down these numbers. We're going to tell you what this means for you. The airline is going to cut its fleet by 100 planes. And that includes this entire fleet Boeing 737, that is 94 planes. They are also going to eliminate six Boeing 747. United said that's because those are the oldest and least fuel efficient plane.
As a result, capacity could be cut up to 18 percent by 2009. And while that may have a positive effect on the environment, United is really worried about another kind of dream. That is money. A report out yesterday from the International Air Transportation Association says rising fuel prices will cause the industry to lose more than $2 billion this year. By cutting planes, they are cutting costs, that's just part of the equation though. United is going to cut 900 to 1,100 jobs. That is on top of 500 previously announced job cuts, Heidi. So, big, big changes today.
COLLINS: Yes. Boy, no question about it. What does all of this mean for the average air travel though? We're going to see ticket prices going up. We are going to see, I'm sure, less flights to certain destinations. No question about that.
HARLOW: That's exactly right. It means fewer routes, fuller planes, more expensive tickets, most likely. The airline -- this is interesting - is also getting rid of its low-cost subsidiary. That airline is called TED. Now, United is currently the second largest airline in the world, right behind American. It is looking for new ways that says to raise sources of revenue. You will remember just a few weeks ago American said it's going to start charging $15 for everyone that wants to check just one bag. The cost goes up from there. So far united has not followed suit. But you can bet they just might because these airlines are under serious, serious pressure.
In terms of what cities could be affected, of course, you're wondering - this is where live, am I going to be affected? We are talking about pretty big planes especially the 747s. So, this is probably not going to affect the smaller cities. Some analysis from "USA Today" says that vacation destinations like Orlando, Honolulu, Las Vegas, they are going to see the biggest service cuts probably not big business centers like New York, La Guardia, Chicago's O'Hare or Dallas-Ft. Worth but that news they come out before today's announcement from United. So, we will definitely - I also want to mention something that an airline analyst told me repeatedly. And that is buy your ticket now. He says the fuel prices are going to go up from here. The ticket cost is going to go up if you are traveling the summer or the fall. We want to help you on the "Energy Fix" desk though. Their recommendation, look into buying tickets now. We are following it from every angle here at cnnmoney.com. Heidi.
COLLINS: Yes, boy when you hear that they're going to wipe out that entire fleet of 737s. That's very alarming. All right. Poppy Harlow, thank you.
HARRIS: Well, Washington, Philly, Chicago, St. Louis, stay alert for severe weather today. Storms and tornadoes on a tear in the middle of the country.
COLLINS: Welcome back everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Her opponent takes the title but Hillary Clinton stays in the race.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand that a lot of people are asking what does Hillary want? What does she want?
COLLINS: Well, we are going to take a look at that question coming up after the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Quickly happening now. The gentleman at the podium for, at the AIPAC conference is Lee Rosenberg. He is and AIPAC board member, we believe he will be introducing Barack Obama momentarily. So, we're going to keep our eyes on that picture for you and bring up the senator as soon as address the podium and the audience there.
The AIPAC conference drawing a host of political leaders. In fact, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was there yesterday. She spent most of her time talking about threats from Iran. Similar message of John McCain Monday. And from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who said Iran must be stopped by all possible means. Olmert meets with President Bush at the white house today. So, what's AIPAC? Well, it stands for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
100,000 members nationwide. Its Web site describes the organization as America's leading pro-Israel lobby, bringing both democrats and republicans together on public policy. Awaiting Senator Barack Obama. And shortly after him, we will see Senator Hillary Clinton as well. Let's go ahead and listen in for just a moment to board member Lee Rosenberg.
LEE ROSENBERG, AIPAC BOARD OF DIRECTOR: ... by Palestinian terrorists. He co-sponsored the Palestinian anti-terrorism act which cuts all but humanitarian aid to any Palestinian authority under the controlled by Hamas until the group renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and abides by past agreements with Israel. Senator Obama also offered and co-sponsored the Iran sanctions enabling act. The senators' legislation aims to use sanctions to deprive Tehran of funds it could use to advance its elicit nuclear arms program. And when a new ten-year secure assistance agreement was worked on last year to provide Israel with the resources it needs to protect itself Senator Obama was one of the first lawmakers in Congress to publicly support that plan.
In the book of Proverbs, it says "where there is no vision, the people perish." Throughout the years, our great nation and Israel shared similar dreams and common aspirations. Sadly, we have also shared common threats. But you, Barack, share our hope and Israel's hope for peace. And yet, you also understand that our nation and Israel have real and dangerous enemies who would like nothing more than to destroy that hope for peace. Senator, your schedule is one that requires the best use of every minute of the day and we are grateful to be here and thank you, Barack, for making it a point to be with us today.
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome a genuine friend of Israel and of AIPAC, steadfast supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and presumptive democratic candidate for president, Senator Barack Obama.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: Thank you so much. It is great to see so many good friends from all across the country. I want to congratulate Howard Friedman, David Victor, and Howard Kohr on an extraordinary conference and on the completion of a new headquarters just a few blocks away.
I want to thank my great friend, Lee Rosenberg, who has been just tireless in working on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
I want to make a point of acknowledging our extraordinary speaker of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spoke just before me...
... and how important her words were, particularly in remembering the three soldiers that are still held by Hezbollah. We will not forget them, and we will bring them home. That is a priority of U.S. policy and Israel policy.
I also have to note that we had an eventful night last night and...
... my staff and I may still be a little bleary-eyed. But we have a number of supporters in this room, and we're very grateful to them.
And I also want to acknowledge that, following my speech, I know that you are going to have the great pleasure of hearing from an extraordinary candidate and an extraordinary public servant. And I want to publicly acknowledge Hillary Clinton for the outstanding race that she has run.
(APPLAUSE) She is a true friend of Israel. She is a great senator from New York. She is an extraordinary leader of the Democratic Party, and she has made history alongside me over the last 16 months. So I'm very proud to have competed against her.
Now, before I begin, I also want to mention that I know some have been receiving provocative e-mails that have been circulated throughout the Jewish communities across the country. And a few of you may have gotten them. They're filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for president. And all I want to say is let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary.
But if anybody has been confused by these e-mails, I want you to know that today I will be speaking from my heart and as a true friend of Israel.
And I know that when I visit AIPAC I'm among friends, good friends...
... friends who share my strong commitment to make sure that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, unbreakable forever.
One of the many things that I admire about AIPAC is that you fight for this common cause from the bottom-up. The lifeblood of AIPAC is here in this room. Grassroots activists of all ages, from all parts of the country, who come to Washington year after year to make your voices heard.
Nothing reflects the face of AIPAC more than the 1,200 students who have traveled here to make it clear to the world that the bond between Israel and the United States...
... that the bond between Israel and the United States is rooted in more than our shared national interests. It's rooted in the shared values and shared stories of our people. And, as president, I will work with you to ensure that it is this bond that is strengthened.
You know, I first became familiar with the story of Israel when I was 11 years old. I had a camp counselor who was an American Jew but had lived in Israel for a time. And he told me stories of this extraordinary land.
And I learned of the long journey and steady determination of the Jewish people to preserve their identity through faith, family and culture. Year after year, century after century, Jews carried on their traditions and their dreams of a homeland in the face of impossible odds.
And the story made a powerful impression on me. I had grown up without a sense of roots. My father was black. He was from Kenya. He had left when I was 2.
My mother was white, and she was from Kansas, and I had moved with her to Indonesia and then back to Hawaii. And in many ways, I didn't know where I came from.
So I was drawn to the belief that you could sustain a spiritual, emotional and cultural identity. And I understood the Zionist idea, that there is always a homeland at the center of our story. And I also...
I also learned about the horror of the Holocaust and the terrible urgency it brought to the journey home to Israel.
For much of my childhood, I lived with my grandparents. And my grandfather had served in World War II and so had my great uncle. He was a Kansas boy who probably never expected to see Europe, let alone the horrors that awaited him there.
And for months after he came home from Germany, he remained in a state of shock, alone with the painful memories that wouldn't leave his head. You see, my great uncle had been part of the 89th Infantry Division, the first Americans to reach a Nazi concentration camp. They liberated Ordruf (ph), part of Buchenwald, on an April day in 1945.
The horrors of that camp go beyond our capacity to imagine. Tens of thousands died of hunger, torture, disease, or plain murder, part of the Nazi killing machine that killed 6 million people.
When the Americans marched in, they discovered huge piles of dead bodies and starving survivors. And General Eisenhower ordered Germans from the nearby towns to tour the camp so they could see what was being done in their name. He ordered American troops to tour the camp so they could see the evil they were fighting against.
He invited congressmen and journalists to bear witness. And he ordered that photographs and films be made.
Explaining his actions, Eisenhower said he wanted to produce firsthand evidence of these things, if ever in the future there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.
I saw some of those very images at Yad Vashem, and they never leave you. And those images just hint at the stories that survivors of the Shoah carry with them.
Like Eisenhower, each of us bears witness to anyone and everyone who would deny these unspeakable crimes or ever speak of repeating them. We must mean what we say when we speak the words, "Never again."
It was just a few years after the liberation of the camps that David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the Jewish state of Israel. We know that the establishment of Israel was just and necessary, rooted in centuries of struggle and decades of patient work.
But 60 years later, we know that we cannot relent, we cannot yield, and, as president, I will never compromise when it comes to Israel's security...
... not when there are still voices that deny the Holocaust, not when there are terrorist groups and political leaders committed to Israel's destruction, not when there are maps across the Middle East that don't even acknowledge Israel's existence, and government-funded textbooks filled with hatred towards Jews, not when there are rockets raining down on Sderot, and Israeli children have to take a deep breath and summon uncommon courage every time they board a bus or walk to school. I have long understood Israel's quest for peace and need for security, but never more so than during the travels that Lee referred to two years ago when I went to Israel.
Flying in an IDF helicopter, I saw a narrow, beautiful strip of land nestled against the Mediterranean. On the ground, I met a family who saw their house destroyed by a Katyusha rocket.
I spoke to Israeli troops who faced daily threats as they maintained security near the blue line. I talked to people who wanted nothing more simple or more elusive than a secure future for their children.
I have been proud to be a part of a strong bipartisan consensus that has stood by Israel in the face of all threats. That is a commitment...
That is a commitment that both John McCain and I share, because support for Israel in this country goes beyond party.
But part of our commitment -- part of our commitment must be speaking up when Israel's security is at risk. And I don't think any of us can be satisfied that America's foreign policy has made Israel more secure.
Hamas now controls Gaza. Hezbollah has tightened its grip on southern Lebanon, and it's flexing its muscles in Beirut. Because of the war in Iraq, Iran, which always posed a greater threat to Israel than Iraq, is emboldened and poses the greatest strategic challenge to the United States and Israel in the Middle East in a generation. Iraq is unstable and Al Qaida has stepped up its recruitment. Israel's quest for peace with its neighbors has stalled, despite the heavy burdens borne by the Israeli people.
And America is more isolated in the region, reducing our strength and jeopardizing Israel's safety.
The question is how to move forward. There are those who would continue and intensify this failed status quo, ignoring eight years of accumulated evidence that our foreign policy is dangerously flawed.
And then there are those that would lay all of the problems of the Middle East at the doorstep of Israel and its supporters, as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of all trouble in the region.
These voices blame the Middle East's only democracy for the region's extremism. They offer the false promise that abandoning a stalwart ally is somehow the path to strength. It is not; it has never been; and it never will be.
Our alliance is based on shared interests and shared values. Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel always faced these threats on the front lines.
And I will bring to the White House an unshakable commitment to Israel's security. That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage.
I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat from Gaza to Tehran. Defense cooperation...
Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success and it must be deepened. As president, I will implement a memorandum of understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade, investments to Israel's security that will not be tied to any other nation.
First, we must approve the foreign aid request for 2009. And I understand that Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid are ready to move on that.
Going forward, we can enhance our cooperation on missile defense. We should export military equipment to our ally, Israel, under the same guidelines as NATO. And I will always stand up for Israel's right to defend itself in the United Nations and around the world.
(APPLAUSE) Across the political spectrum, Israelis understand that real security can only come through lasting peace. And that is why we, as friends of Israel, must resolve to do all we can to help Israel and its neighbors to achieve it, because a secure, lasting peace is in Israel's national interest; it is in America's national interest; and it is in the interest of the Palestinian people and the Arab world.
As president, I will work to help Israel achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state living side- by-side in peace and security.
And I won't wait -- I won't wait until the waning days of my presidency. I will take an active role and make a personal commitment to do all I can to advance the cause of peace from the start of my administration.
Now, the long road to peace requires Palestinian partners committed to making the journey. We must isolate Hamas unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements.
There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organizations. That is why I opposed holding elections in 2006 with Hamas on the ballot.
The Israelis and the Palestinian Authority warned us at the time against holding these elections, but this administration pressed ahead, and the result is a Gaza controlled by Hamas with rockets raining down on Israel.
The Palestinian people must understand that progress will not come through the false prophets of extremism or the corrupt use of foreign aid.
The United States and the international community must stand by Palestinians who are committed to cracking down on terror and carrying the burden of peacemaking. I will...
I will strongly urge Arab governments to take steps to normalize relations with Israel and to fulfill their responsibility to pressure extremists and provide real support for President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.
Egypt must cut off the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. (APPLAUSE)
And Israel can also advance the cause of peace by taking appropriate steps consistent with its security to ease the freedom of movement for Palestinians, improve economic conditions in the West Bank, and to refrain from building new settlements, as it agreed to do with the Bush administration at Annapolis.
Now, let me be clear: Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is nonnegotiable.
The Palestinians need a state -- the Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders.
And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.
I have no illusions that any of this will be easy. It will require difficult decisions on both sides. But Israel is strong enough to achieve peace, if it has partners who are committed to the goal.
Most Israelis and Palestinians want peace, and we must strengthen their hand. The United States must be a strong and consistent partner in this process, not to force concessions, but to help committed partners avoid stalemate and the kind of vacuums that are filled by violence.
And that's what I commit to do as president of the United States.
The threats to Israel start close to home, but they do not end there. Syria continues its support for terror and meddling in Lebanon, and Syria has taken dangerous steps in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, which is why Israeli action was entirely justified to end that threat.
I also believe that the United States has a responsibility to support Israel's effort to renew peace talks with the Syrians. We must never force Israel to the negotiating table...
... but neither should we ever block negotiations when Israelis' leaders decide that they may serve Israeli interests.
As president, I will do whatever I can to help Israel succeed in these negotiations. And success will require the full enforcement of Security Council Resolution 1701 in Lebanon and a stop to Syria's support for terror. It is time for this reckless behavior to come to an end.
Now, there's no greater threat to Israel or to the peace and stability of the region than Iran. This audience is made up of both Republicans and Democrats. And the enemies of Israel should have no doubt that, regardless of party, Americans stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our commitment to Israel's security.
So while I don't want to strike too partisan a note here today, I do want to address some willful mischaracterizations of my position.
The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists.
Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.
But just as we are clear-eyed about the threat, we must be clear about the failure of today's policy. We knew in 2002 that Iran supported terrorism. We knew Iran had an illicit nuclear program. We knew Iran proposed a great threat to Israel.
But instead of pursuing a strategy to address this threat, we ignored it and instead invaded and occupied Iraq.
When I opposed the war, I warned that it would fan the flames of extremism in the Middle East. That is precisely what happened in Iran. The hard-liners tightened their grip, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005. And the United States and Israel are less secure.
I respect Senator McCain, and I look forward to a substantive debate with him these next five months. But on this point, we have differed, and we will differ.
Senator McCain refuses to understand or acknowledge the failure of the policy he would continue. He criticizes my willingness to use strong diplomacy, but offers only an alternative reality, one where the war in Iraq has somehow put Iran on its heels.
The truth is the opposite: Iran has strengthened its position. Iran is now enriching uranium, and it has reportedly stockpiled 150 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Its support for terrorism and threats towards Israel have increased.
Those are the facts. And they cannot be denied. And I refuse to continue a policy that has made the United States and Israel less secure.
Now, Senator McCain and others offers a false choice: stay the course in Iraq or cede the region to Iran.
I reject this logic, because there is a better way. Keeping all of our troops tied down indefinitely in Iraq is not the way to weaken Iran; it is precisely what has strengthened it. It is a policy for staying, not a policy for victory.
I have proposed a responsible phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq. We will get out as carefully as we were careless getting in. We will finally pressure Iraq's leaders to take meaningful responsibility for their own future.
We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything.
That starts with aggressive, principled, tough diplomacy, without self-defeating preconditions, but with a clear-eyed understanding of our interests.
We have no time to waste. We cannot unconditionally rule out an approach that could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
We have tried limited, piecemeal talks, while we outsourced the sustained work to our European allies. It has not worked. It is time for the United States to lead.
Now, there will be careful preparation. We will open up lines of communication, build an agenda, coordinate closely with our allies, especially Israel, and evaluate the potential for progress.
And contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking. But as president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing, if and only if it can advance the interests of the United States.
That is my position. I want it to be absolutely clear.
Only recently have some come to think that diplomacy by definition cannot be tough. They forget the example of Truman, and Kennedy, and Reagan. These presidents understood that diplomacy, backed by real leverage, was a fundamental tool of statecraft.
And it is time to once again make American diplomacy a tool to succeed, not just a means of containing failure.
We will pursue this diplomacy with no illusions about the Iranian regime. Instead, we will present a clear choice: If you abandon your dangerous nuclear program, your support for terror, and your threats to Israel, there will be meaningful incentives, including the lifting of sanctions and political and economic integration with the international community. If you refuse, we will ratchet up the pressure.
My presidency will strengthen our hand as we restore our standing. Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to mobilize others to join our cause.
If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States, it will be clear to the people of Iran and to the world that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation. And that will strengthen our hand with Russia and China, as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council.
And we should work with Europe, Japan, and the gulf states to find every avenue outside the United Nations to isolate the Iranian regime, from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions, to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran, to boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who Quds Forces have rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.
I was interested to see Senator McCain propose divestment as a source of leverage, not the bigoted divestment that has sought to punish Israeli scientists and academics, but divestment targeted at the Iranian regime. It's a good concept, but not a new one.
I introduced legislation over a year ago that would encourage states and the private sector to divest from companies that do business in Iran.
This bill has bipartisan support. This bill has bipartisan support. But for reasons that I'll let him explain, Senator McCain never signed on. Meanwhile, an anonymous senator is blocking the bill.
It is time to pass this into law so that we can tighten the squeeze on the Iranian regime. We should pursue also unilateral sanctions that target Iranian banks and Iranian assets.
And if we want real leverage over Iran, we must free ourselves from the tyranny of oil.
The price of a barrel of oil is one of the most dangerous weapons in the world. Petrodollars pay for weapons that kill American troops and Israeli citizens.
And the Bush administration's policies have driven up the price of oil, while its energy policy has made us more dependent on foreign oil and gas.
It is time for the United States to take real steps to end our addiction to oil. And we can join Israel, building on last year's U.S.-Israeli Energy Cooperation Act, to deepen our partnership in developing alternative sources of energy.
We should work -- we should work with Israel, increasing scientific collaboration and joint research and development. The surest way to increase our leverage in the long term is to stop bankrolling the Iranian regime.
Finally, let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally, Israel. Do not be confused.
Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation, but that only makes diplomacy more important. If we must use military force, we are more likely to succeed and will have far greater support at home and abroad if we have exhausted our diplomatic efforts.
That is the change we need in our foreign policy, change that restores American power and influence, change accompanied by a pledge that I will make known to allies and adversaries alike, that America maintains an unwavering friendship with Israel and an unshakable commitment to its security.
As members of AIPAC, you have helped advance this bipartisan consensus to support and defend our ally, Israel. And I am sure that today on Capitol Hill you will be meeting with members of Congress and spreading the word.
But we are here because of more than policy. We are here because the values we hold dear are deeply embedded in the story of Israel.
Just look at what Israel's accomplished in 60 years. From decades of struggle in the terrible wake of the Holocaust, a nation was forced to provide a home for Jews from all comers, all around the world, from Syria to Ethiopia to the Soviet Union.
In the face of constant threats, Israel has triumphed. In the face of constant peril, Israel has prospered. In a state of constant insecurity, Israel has maintained a vibrant and open discourse and a resilient commitment to the rule of law.
As any Israeli will tell you, Israel is not a perfect place. But like the United States, it sets an example for all when it seeks a more perfect future.
These same qualities can be found among American Jews. It is why so many Jewish-Americans have stood by Israel while advancing the American story, because there is a commitment embedded in the Jewish faith and tradition to freedom and fairness, to social justice and equal opportunity, to tikkun olam, the obligation to repair this world.
I will never forget that I would not be standing here today if it weren't for the commitment that was made not only in the African- American community, but also in the Jewish-American community. In the great social movements in our country's history, Jewish- and African- Americans have stood shoulder-to-shoulder.
They took buses down south together. They marched together. They bled together. And Jewish-Americans, like Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were willing to die alongside a black man, James Chaney, on behalf of freedom and on behalf of equality.
Their legacy is our inheritance. We must not allow the relationship between Jews and African-Americans to suffer. This is a bond that must be strengthened.
Together, we can rededicate ourselves to end prejudice and combat hatred in all its form. Together, we can renew our commitment to justice. Together, we can join our voices together and, in doing so, even the mightiest of walls fall down.
That work must include a shared commitment to Israel.
You and I know we must do more than stand still. Now is the time to be vigilant in facing down every foe, just as we move forward in seeking a future of peace for the children of Israel and for all children.
Now is the time to stand by Israel as it writes the next chapter in its extraordinary journey. Now is the time to join together in the work of repairing this world. And I'm looking forward to being a partner with AIPAC in making that happen.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (APPLAUSE)
COLLINS: Senator Barack Obama, in Washington, D.C., at the AIPAC conference today. Lengthy speech there, to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. As they do hold their annual policy conference. Just the morning after, becoming the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party for president of the United States. So there you have it. I wanted to show that to you as it was happening live.
And we are also going to be bringing you Hillary Clinton, when she comes to the podium a little bit later on today. Don't have an exact time on that, but we of course are watching this conference as we have been all morning long. We'll bring it to you when it happens.
For now though, a quick break. We'll be back, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM, in just a moment.
HARRIS: And good morning again, everyone. You are informed with CNN, I'm Tony Harris.
COLLINS: Hi there everybody, I'm Heidi Collins.
Developments keep coming in to the CNN NEWSROOM on Wednesday, the 4th of June. Here's what's on the rundown. Barack Obama, the morning after he clinches the Democratic nomination. Nothing but praise and accolades for Hillary Clinton.