Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver this evening brought delegates at the Democratic National Convention to their feet with an impassioned 15-minute oration that paid tribute to hope and offered a prayer for a more unified country.
Speaking outside the prime-time window, Cleaver nonetheless stirred passions among delegates who clearly were hungry for it.
"Hope on!" he said over and over again, encouraging President Obama to continue his crusade of hope. "Hope on!"
Later, the United Methodist minister and head of the Congressional Black Caucus urged a more united nation.
"Poor, rich, we are one!" Cleaver exhorted. "Together, we must move the United States of America forward. There is more power in unity than division.
"Let's do more than say the Pledge of Allegiance. Let us live it! Let us embody, `One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.'
"And that means every one of our nation's citizens. Together, we must build a country where we live up to our nation's motto: `E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.' We are one."
Not only did Cleaver have delegates standing and cheering, he had them marching in place at one point as he talked of hope.
It was classic Cleaver delivering an address in cadences and a pitch familiar to many Kansas Citians, but new to many delegates, some of whom asked mid-speech, "Who is that?"
Earlier in his address, the Kansas City Democrat talked of the need for civility in Congress, saying the House and Senate had broken down because "too many politicians believe that compromise means capitulation."
"This must change, because just as bees cannot sting and make honey at the same time, members of Congress cannot simultaneously make passionate enemies and expect political progress," he said.
A long-time advocate of better relations between members of Congress, Cleaver didn't take on Republicans by name. But there was little doubt who he was talking about in bemoaning the lack of compromise in his chamber. Democrats have long blamed the GOP for frustrating the president at every turn.
At other times, he appeared to speak to members of both parties
"Tonight, I cannot speak to you without acknowledging that the bickering and brinksmanship we see too often in our politics is advantaging no party, but weakening our nation," he said. "We can be fervent in our disagreements without being factitious with our beliefs."
He said in his 5th District, members of both parties tell him that they would like to look at the country's political leaders and see "more warm hearts and fewer hot heads, more facts and fewer falsehoods."
Cleaver spoke to a convention hall that was about two-thirds full on the same night that former President Bill Clinton was to speak to delegates. Cleaver urged Obama to continue to push his 2008 campaign theme of hope.
"Continue to speak of hope to the American people, because it is impossible for hope to overdraw its account in God's bank," he said.
"The tough days our nation faced may have caused us great pain, but they must not and will not cause us to lose our hope. Hope fills the holes of my frustration in my heart. Hope inspires me to believe that any day now, we will catch up to the ideals put forth by our nation's founding fathers.
"Hope is the motivation that empowers the unemployed, enabling them to get out of bed every single morning with unbounded enthusiasm as they look for work.
"It is our hope and faith that move us to action. It is our hope and faith that reminds us to pray and also affirms that we must move our feet. It is our hope that tells us our latter days will be greater than the former.
"It is our hope that instructs us to march on!"