2008 Obama VS. McCain

"Yes We Can (Web)"


Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate
"Yes We Can," Will.i.am and Jesse Dylan, 2008

(Acoustic guitar)

OBAMA (speaking) and WILL.I.AM (singing): It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes we can.


With KAREEM ABDUL-JABAR and COMMON: It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists, as they blazed the trails towards freedom: Yes we can. Yes we can.

With JOHN LEGEND (singing): It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.

With TATIANA ALI and KATE WALSH: It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier...

With JOHN LEGEND: ...and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.

OBAMA: Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can.

AISHA TYLER: Yes we can.

SAM PAGE: Yes we can.

KATE WALSH: Yes we can.



OBAMA with SAM PAGE, SCARLETT JOHANNSEN, and JOHN LEGEND: Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world.

CROWD (cheering): Yes we can.

GROUP: Yes we can, yes we can...

OBAMA with WILL.I.AM: We must remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

GROUP: Yes we can, oh, yes we can. I want change.

OBAMA (joined by members of GROUP, singing): We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come.

We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

AISHA TYLER: I want change...

CROWD (cheering): We want change, we want change.

OBAMA with WILL.I.AM: That the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are
the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA

With COMMON: We will remember that there is something happening in America

With members of GROUP (singing): That we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in America's story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea - Yes. We. Can.

GROUP (singing): Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can.

For when we have faced down impossible
odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't
try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a
simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.

Yes we can.


"Yes We Can (Web)," Will.i.am and Jesse Dylan, 2008

Video courtesy of Jesse Dylan and FORM.

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012.
www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/2008/yes-we-can-web (accessed June 22, 2024).


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2008 Obama Results

The 2008 election, which resulted in the selection of the first African-American president in the nation's history, was about change. Polls indicated that more than 80 percent of likely voters felt that the country was on the wrong track or moving in the wrong direction. For the first time since 1952, there were no candidates on either major-party ticket who have served as president or vice president.

As in 2004, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were important issues, yet foreign policy was strongly overshadowed by the economy when the credit and mortgage crisis hit full force in September. Other economic concerns included health-care costs, energy policy, gas prices, and rising unemployment. From the primary campaigns into the general-election contest, candidates positioned themselves as agents of change. Normally it is the party out of power in the White House that calls for change. In 2008, both parties claimed to offer “change,” as opposed to “more of the same.”

The candidates made these claims in an ad war that was unprecedented in its quantity and cost. Ads were created in rapid-response fashion, timed for the increasingly fast-paced news cycle. Also, as a reflection of the shift in popular culture toward the provocative tone of the Internet, which relies on bold statements and humor to inspire “forwardability,” the 2008 ads were noticeably sharper and more aggressive than that of previous elections.

Barack Obama for president
Joseph Biden for vice president

"Change We Can Believe In."

Barack Obama’s campaign created a number of positive ads that emphasize such words as “values” and “work,” portraying him as someone whom working-class voters can feel comfortable with. While Obama’s ads tended to be more positive in tone than McCain’s, there were also a large number of attack ads. Just as President Clinton’s 1996 ads linked Bob Dole with Newt Gingrich, nearly all of Obama’s attack ads linked John McCain with President Bush, whose approval ratings are extremely low. By linking McCain to Bush, the Obama campaign successfully undercut McCain’s image as an independent maverick.