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Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Fargo Forum Alternative: Obama claims Democratic nomination
Clinton refuses to concede; aides, colleagues say she’s considering No. 2
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois claimed the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night, NBC News projected based on its tally of convention delegates.
By doing so, he shattered a barrier more than two centuries old to become the first black candidate ever nominated by a major political party for the nation’s highest office.
“After 54 hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end,” Obama told cheering supporters in a victory celebration in St. Paul, Minn., at the site of the convention that will nominate his Republican opponent in the fall, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
“Tonight, I can stand here before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America.”
Obama, 46, of Illinois, hailed his Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, for having “made history in this campaign, not just because she is a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she’s a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.”
“Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Obama said.
But after splitting the last two primaries of the election campaign with Obama, Clinton refused to give him the unalloyed victory he sought.
In a speech to supporters in New York, Clinton said it had been “an honor to contest these primaries with him” and declared that she was “committed to uniting our party so we move forward stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White House this November.”
But she emphasized that she had won more votes in primaries and caucuses than Obama, and she pointedly said she would “be making no decisions tonight.” Instead, she said she would consult with party leaders in the next few days to determine her next step.
Aides said that was a strategic decision to preserve her leverage to negotiate over policy disagreements and the possibility that she would join Obama’s ticket as the vice presidential nominee.
Superdelegates put Obama over the top
In a speech Tuesday night in New Orleans, meanwhile, McCain welcomed Obama to the general election campaign as a “formidable” opponent, but accused Obama of unfairly trying to tie him to the policies of President Bush. "But the American people didn't get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama,” McCain said.
McCain said Obama “hasn't been willing to make the tough calls, to challenge his party ... I have.”
In his speech, Obama fired back that McCain has regularly backed President Bush in the Senate and would offer four more years of failed policies on Iraq and the economy.
“There are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's polices as bipartisan and new,” Obama said. “But change is not one of them.”
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