From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
BERLIN, Germany -- In the most anticipated public event of his five-country swing through Europe and the Middle East, Obama today addressed a crowd of more than 200,000 people at Tiergarten Park here, calling upon Americans and Europeans to work together to fight terrorism, poverty, genocide, climate change and to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.
He also touched on the need for peace in the Middle East, a strong European Union, and a free and fair trade system.
VIDEO: Speaking before an enormous crowd in Berlin, Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama warned against 'walls' between 'allies,...races and trives, natives and immigrants, Christian and Muslim and Jew.'
The presumptive Democratic nominee -- who was greeted with several chants of "Yes we Can" and was frequently interrupted by cheers and applause -- returned to his common campaign themes of unity, hope, and the need to seize the moment. He also repeated a favorite phrase, "This is our moment," several times throughout his roughly half-hour speech, which acknowledged about the need to repair the relationship between America and its allies.
"In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world -- rather than a force to help make it right -- has become all too common," he told a crowd that stretched about a mile from his stage in front of the Victory Column to the Brandenburg Gate. "In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth."
Obama stressed at the beginning of his speech that he was speaking as a citizen of the world, not as a candidate for president. He touched on Berlin's Cold War past and of the aid America provided the city and the continent through the Marshall Plan. He said the city's people "kept the flame of hope burning" and that "this city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom."
The campaign said last week it had chosen Berlin, the city where John F. Kennedy gave his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in 1963, because of its unique place in the history of the 20th century and because of Obama's desire to highlight the need to cooperate as closely with America's European allies in the 21st century as it did in the last.
Obama called the speech "A World that Stands as One," and he told the crowd it was important to remember that while there would be differences between the United States and its allies, no country could stand alone in fighting modern challenges. He drew applause when he said that true partnership and progress required constant work, as well as the will to listen to each other and to trust each other.
"That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe," he said. "Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that binds us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation and strong institutions and shared sacrifice and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century."
This was one of the most closely-watched speeches of Obama's campaign, and his advisers seemed particularly concerned about stressing that it would not be "political" -- with the senator telling reporters on the flight from Tel Aviv this morning that it would not be a "wonky" policy address. It came smack dab in the middle of a general election campaign against his Republican opponent, John McCain, with whom at least one recent poll showed voters feel more comfortable with on foreign policy issues.
Some controversy surrounded the event in its planning stages when reports came out that Obama had sought to hold it at the Brandenburg Gate, an 18th-century monument that became a symbol of the Cold War and is now a symbol of a reunified Germany. Ronald Reagan delivered his famous "tear down this wall" speech at the gate in 1987.
Obama made reference to the Berlin Wall, saying the walls that still exist today between old allies on either side of the Atlantic -- between rich and poor countries; between "races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christian and Muslim and Jew" must be torn down.
And he acknowledged America's imperfections. "I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people," he said. "We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions. But I also know how much I love America."
"People of Berlin -- people of the world -- this is our moment. This is our time," Obama said in closing.
The McCain campaign responded by calling the speech premature. "While Barack Obama took a premature victory lap today in the heart of Berlin, proclaiming himself a 'citizen of the world,' John McCain continued to make his case to the American citizens who will decide this election," spokesman Tucker Bounds said in an emailed statement. "Barack Obama offered eloquent praise for this country, but the contrast is clear. John McCain has dedicated his life to serving, improving and protecting America. Barack Obama spent an afternoon talking about it."