Obama Clinches Democratic Nomination for President
(APN) ATLANTA — US Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) now has enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, while US Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has dropped out of the race. Obama will become the first Black presidential nominee of a major political party in US history.
Due to a win in Montana, a handful of pledged delegates in South Dakota, and a flood of extra superdelegate support, Obama surpassed the 2,118-delegate mark needed to secure the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, June 03, 2008.
This 2,118 mark included only half delegates for the states of Florida and Michigan, however, after a rules committee of the Democratic National Committee adopted a plan to seat the state’s delegation at half-strength on May 31, 2008.
Florida’s half-delegates were seated proportionally; Michigan’s were seated according to a compromise between Clinton and Obama’s proposals, which, respectively, were to seat proportionally or to split the delegates 50-50.
“Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another, a journey that will bring a new and better day to America,” Obama told supporters in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“Because of you, I can stand here tonight and say I will be the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States of America,” he added.
“I want to thank every American who stood with us, through the good days and the bad,” Obama said.
“You know in your hearts at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, we can’t afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say, let us begin to work together, let us unite to chart a new course for America,” Obama said.
The day of June 03 started with a host of undecided and former Clinton superdelegates announcing their support for Obama, which continued to pile up as the afternoon and evening progressed.
Key endorsements included US House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Tina Abbott, Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Former President Jimmy Carter all but announced his intention to endorse Obama when he said it is time for Clinton to step aside Tuesday.
After the polls closed in South Dakota and by the time he took the stage on June 3, Obama had all the delegates he needed.
Obama chose the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, site of the Republican National Convention in September, to claim the nomination.
Obama reached out to Clinton and her supporters. “Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign,” Obama said.
Obama praised her “unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be.”
“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,” he added.
Clinton expressed interest in the Vice Presidential nomination earlier on June 3 and praised Obama, when she spoke to supporters in New York.
Clinton–who won more votes than Obama when including Florida and Michigan and excluding states which hold caucuses, not primaries–did not drop out of the race until Saturday, June 07, 2008.
“This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight,” Clinton said on June 3. “I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way.”
“I understand that a lot of people are asking, what does Hillary want? What does she want?” Clinton said. “Well I want what I have always fought for in this whole campaign. I want to end the war in Iraq. I want to turn this economy around. I want health care for every American. I want every child to live up to her God-given potential. And I want the 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard, and to be no longer invisible.”
Clinton finished strong, wrapping up the nominating season with big wins in Puerto Rico on Sunday, June 1, 2008, and on South Dakota Tuesday, June 03, but she did not get the break she needed on Florida and Michigan to close the deal.
Clinton wanted to seat the full delegation of both states with full voting rights in order to close her delegate gap with Obama.
Clinton won the Michigan primary on January 15, 2008, with 55 percent of the vote but Obama’s name did not appear on the ballot. Forty percent voted “uncommitted.”
Clinton won the Florida primary on January 29, 2008, with 50 percent of the vote. Obama received 33 percent.
The rules committee decision left Clinton with 105 pledged half-delegates from Florida and 69 from Michigan with a total of 87 votes. Obama will receive 67 pledged half-delegates from Florida and 59 from Michigan with a total of 63 votes.
The Clinton campaign applauded the Florida decision but not the Michigan decision, arguing it is a misrepresentation of voters’ intent because Obama will be assigned Michigan half-delegates in a proportion greater than all of the Michigan voters who voted “uncommitted.”
“In the end, while this primary was long, I am so proud we stayed the course together,” Clinton said June 03. “Because we stood our ground, it meant that every single U.S. citizen had a chance to have his or her voice heard. We have brought so many people into the Democratic Party and created enthusiasm among those people we serve.”
“I am committed to uniting our party so we move forward stronger and more ready to take back the White House this November,” Clinton added.
Obama also signaled he is ready to bring together a united front.
Obama and Clinton had a one-on-one meeting that lasted about an hour at the Washington D.C. home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a Clinton backer, on June 05, 2008. What was said during that meeting is likely to remain a mystery.
Many pundits have speculated that Clinton is trying to position herself to be Obama’s running mate. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday shows 54 percent of registered Democrats polled believe Obama should choose Clinton for the vice presidency. Forty-three percent disagreed.
Several other names have been floated as possible Vice Presidential choices for Obama, including former Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), a 2008 presidential candidate; Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH); US Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), who, like Obama, is only in his first term as US Senator; Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-NE); US Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), a Clinton supporter; and former US Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA).
The General Election race now is tight. Obama is leading US Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 46.9 percent to 44.4 percent, according to an average of eight national polls conducted May 21 through June 5 compiled by realclearpolitics.com.
Democrats will nominate Obama during the Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, from August 25 through August 28, 2008.
From September 01 through September 04, 2008, Republicans will nominate McCain during the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
McCain sent a letter to Obama this week proposing the two hold 10 town-hall style debates this summer before the conventions. It is unclear at this point if Obama will accept.
Also running for President are former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), who has clinched the Green Party’s nomination; former US Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), who is the Libertarian nominee; and Ralph Nader, who is running as an Independent.
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