CNN's Gergen: Obama Speech Echoes Martin Luther King, Abe Lincoln

"Change We Can Believe In" is the new "I Have a Dream," that is, if you ask the crew at CNN.

During Tuesday’s live election coverage, CNN reporters and analysts gushed over Barack Obama’s speech, comparing it to those of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln as well as praising Obama for his graciousness towards Hillary Clinton.

Leading up to Obama’s speech, Anderson Cooper announced: "An extraordinary moment for Barack Obama, for his wife, Michelle Obama, for all of those supporters, not only gathered in that, in that stadium tonight, but people watching around the country, even those who may not support Barack Obama certainly taking this moment to reflect on the historic nature of what is happening on this evening."

After Obama’s speech, Cooper gushed:

"For Barack Obama and his family, truly a remarkable evening. In the hall in St. Paul, Minnesota, where a few months from now the Republicans will gather, Barack Obama surrounded by a crowd of some 20,000 people, listening in rapt attention to his words, cheering him on throughout. 'This is the moment, this is our time,' he repeatedly said. Earlier, talking about John McCain's comments earlier, he said, 'I respect his accomplishments,' talking about John McCain, 'even if he chooses to deny mine.'"

CNN political analyst and former Bill Clinton staffer David Gergen praised Obama’s public speaking abilities and compared this speech to those of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln:

"We haven't had a speaker publicly speak this well since Reagan. There are echoes, obviously, of Martin Luther King in this speech. There are echoes of Lincoln in this speech. Bill Clinton could give a heck of a speech. I think Barack Obama may be even a better speaker.” Gergen also said, “[T]his was a night, the last night until September, when the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate are going to be on national television on the same night, being seen by everybody. And I think there's no question that Barack Obama gave a better speech."

CNN reporters also praised Obama for his "graciousness" towards Hillary Clinton. Cooper claimed Obama went "beyond just boilerplate thanking [Clinton], really making a huge effort to, to praise her, her role in this campaign, her role in history." Gloria Borger, another CNN political analyst, continued this theme by saying, "And I just want to make a point about what he said about Hillary Clinton. I mean, he was incredibly gracious to Hillary Clinton, talking about her strength and her courage and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight." Later, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux added, "He really gave and recognized that it was Hillary Clinton that was breaking a barrier for women."

Finally, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin relished Obama’s supposed selflessness:

"I was struck by the fact that this was not a speech about Barack Obama. He did not talk about himself very much. He paid tribute to his grandmother, and it was all about other people. We're talking about the historic nature of this. We're talking about the first African-American nominee of a party. He didn't say a word about it."

The transcript of the segment, which occurred at 10:40 PM on June 3, 2008, follows:

ANDERSON COOPER: For Barack Obama and his family, truly a remarkable evening. In the hall in St. Paul, Minnesota, where a few months from now the Republicans will gather, Barack Obama surrounded by a crowd of some 20,000 people, listening in rapt attention to his words, cheering him on throughout.“This is the moment, this is our time,” he repeatedly said. Earlier, talking about John McCain's comments earlier, he said, "I respect his accomplishments," talking about John McCain, "even if he chooses to deny mine." And again, we heard him repeating over and over, "We are always Americans first, whether we are Republicans or Democrats." David Gergen, as you -- as you watch Barack Obama work this crowd, a remarkable speech whether you support him or not as a candidate, whether you want him or not as president, this is a man who certainly knows how to speak to a crowd.

DAVID GERGEN: We haven't had a speaker publicly speak this well since Reagan. There are echoes, obviously, of Martin Luther King in this speech. There are echoes of Lincoln in this speech. Bill Clinton could give a heck of a speech. I think Barack Obama may be even a better speaker. And you have to think tonight -- I keep coming back to the Hillary speech and what we saw earlier tonight. This -- the one sort of cloud over this, Anderson, this was a night, the last night until September, when the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate are going to be on national television on the same night, being seen by everybody. And I think there's no question that Barack Obama gave a better speech. At the same time, think how much more of a lift he would have had if she had endorsed him tonight and he had gone and given that speech, how Democrats might have come together. And the fact that she did not, I think, leaves this with a terrific speech, but there is, over this, still the cloud of can they heal the party?

COOPER: If there was a cloud over him, though, he certainly did not give any hint of that tonight in his comments about Hillary Clinton. Clearly going beyond just boilerplate thanking her, really making a huge effort to -- to praise her, her role in this campaign, her role in history, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: The thing that struck me about this is really the kind of universal appeal about this speech. He started off thanking his grandmother. I think everybody can kind of relate to that, that he said that tonight is for her. What was striking is that he didn't talk about the historic nature of being the first African-American to hold this position, to open the door for others. He really gave and recognized that it was Hillary Clinton that was breaking a barrier for women. He has never really wanted to focus on race. He was forced really into that kind of discussion to address the issue. But he has always tried to reach out to people, all kinds of people. And that was something that he did this evening.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: I was struck by the fact that this was not a speech about Barack Obama. He did not talk about himself very much. He paid tribute to his grandmother, and it was all about other people. We're talking about the historic nature of this. We're talking about the first African-American nominee of a party. He didn't say a word about it.

GLORIA BORGER: In fact, he's saying that this is -- America, this is our moment. Not that it was his moment as an African-American. And I just want to make a point about what he said about Hillary Clinton. I mean, he was incredibly gracious to Hillary Clinton, talking about her strength and her courage and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight. He went on at some length about her and then went right to John McCain.

COOPER: Seventeen thousand people, I'm told, inside this hall. Fifteen thousand people, according to the fire marshal, outside of the hall, listening to the comments of Barack Obama tonight. Our coverage on AC 360 continues. We have to take a short break. There’s also online discussion on our blog, CNN.com/360. Bill Schneider is live blogging there as well, joining in on the conversation. You can join that conversation. CNN.com/360. We’ll be right back.