Skip to comments.Obama makes history; Clinton refuses to concede Democratic nomination
Posted on 06/03/2008 10:02:07 PM PDT by Red Steel
20 minutes ago
WASHINGTON Barack Obama became the first black presidential nominee in U.S. history on Tuesday, declaring victory over Hillary Clinton and lifting the curtain on an epic struggle for the White House against Republican John McCain.
Clinton, credited by Obama as an inspiration to millions, refused to concede defeat and sparked a buzz early in the day about the possibility of a dream team by saying she's open to joining the ticket as his running mate.
"Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another," Obama told nearly 20,000 cheering supporters in a soaring speech that capped an amazing political ascendancy.
"America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past," said Obama, who depicted McCain as the antithesis of change.
"We must again have the courage and conviction to lead the free world. That's what Americans demand. That's what change is."
Obama reached the winning delegate figure of 2,118 from the final two primaries and new support from party officials and legislators.
He won Montana and Clinton took South Dakota on the closing day of a spellbinding, see-saw race that drew record turnouts and divided Democrats into intensely emotional camps.
Obama now has five months to make his case in what promises to be a tumultuous election in a war-weary country with a fragile economy where Americans are deeply unhappy about the status quo.
His first job will be dealing with Clinton, who didn't acknowledge Obama had reached the delegate milestone and said she'd consult party leaders and supporters before deciding what's next.
"I am committed to uniting our party so we move forward stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White House in November," Clinton said in New York.
But she defiantly continued to emphasize her widespread appeal during 54 contests in five months of voting.
And supporters chanted "Denver, Denver, Denver" as she spoke, signalling she should contest the nomination all the way to the party's national convention in August.
"I want the 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer be invisible," she said.
"The question is where to do we go from here - and given how far we've come and where we need to go as a party, it is a question I do not take lightly."
"This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight."
Yet she also praised Obama and his ability to pull in so many young voters.
"Our party and our democracy is stronger and more vibrant as a result. And we are grateful."
The 46-year-old first-term Illinois senator couldn't be more different from his rival for the presidency, a Vietnam War hero who's 71 and ardently supports the Iraq war.
McCain was quick off the mark in laying out his own battle plan, painting Obama as a naive, free-spending newcomer and accusing him of denying funds to U.S. soldiers who've done a "brilliant and brave" job.
"This is, indeed, a change election," McCain said in New Orleans. "No matter who wins this election, the direction of this country is going to change dramatically. But, the choice is between the right change and the wrong change; between going forward and going backward.
Obama swung back hard in his victory speech, delivered at an evening rally in St. Paul, Minn. in the same hall where McCain will accept the Republican nomination at his party's national convention in September
"It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 per cent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year," said Obama, who suggested his rival should spend more time visiting small-town Americans and less time in Iraq.
Obama was just 30-odd delegates short of the nomination as the day began, and aides scrambled to bring superdelegates on board to meet the quota so he could celebrate his remarkable breakthrough.
Clinton's camp, meantime, tried to convince them to hold off.
His campaign was already gearing up to recruit many of Clinton's top fundraisers, a move that could add $75 million to the record totals he's getting from small donors over the Internet.
Important endorsements for Obama flooded in throughout the day, including former president Jimmy Carter and Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, who urged Clinton to bow out.
Even ardent Clinton supporters said there should be an end to the bitter, bruising battle for the good of the party.
"It is, in fact, a moment of truth," said California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Obama didn't need victories in both final primaries to take the nomination.
But he had hoped to avoid ending on a bad note that might reinforce concerns about the trouble he's had attracting white working-class voters in the second half of the primaries dominated by Clinton.
She told New York legislators on a conference call early Tuesday that she's "open" to becoming Obama's vice-presidential running mate if it would help the party's prospects in the general election.
Some party luminaries have backed the ticket as an unbeatable union blending his popularity among blacks, the young and well-educated, affluent Americans with Clinton's draw among women, Hispanics seniors and average, white, male Joes.
Obama has already asked Clinton for a meeting on her terms "when the dust settles."
Joining the ticket would make sense for Clinton, setting her up for a run in 2012 if Obama loses to McCain, as long as the party doesn't blame her, and making her the heir apparent in 2016 if Obama serves two terms.
But it's an open question whether he would ask her and if the two could possibly make a good match. Clinton also carries a lot of baggage.
Some in the party are ardently opposed, and analysts say the identity of the vice-president holds little sway for voters anyway.
During the nomination race, Obama repeatedly pegged Clinton as part of the old school of divisive politics who will say anything to get elected - the opposite of his message of hope and changing the way politics are conducted.
And her husband Bill, after some inflammatory, hurtful comments on the campaign trail, is a wild card. Just this week he accused Obama of getting "other people to slime her."
Uncertainty about Clinton's next steps and what Obama will do to placate her provided the backdrop to his stunning achievement as the next part of the presidential race began to unfold.
Obama is facing some tough terrain in his fight against McCain, despite the unprecedented unpopularity of President George W. Bush, the tanking economy and widespread antipathy toward the Iraq war.
The 17-month Democratic battle has given McCain a lot of breathing room even as it revealed a host of difficult problems Obama will have to address to marshall a winning coalition, overcome his inexperience and cope with lingering bigotry.
And signs are pointing to a presidential race perhaps as close as the last two.
The latest Gallup poll released Tuesday had Obama only narrowly beating McCain in a November matchup at 47 per cent to 44 per cent. The lead is within the poll's four-point margin of error.
The poll also indicated that 58 per cent of Americans have a positive image of Obama, while 56 view McCain favourably.
McCain's compelling personal story - the longtime Arizona senator spent more than five years in captivity in Vietnam - and his reputation at a maverick who's repudiated some top party policies could help him blunt some of Obama's criticism that he's running for a third Bush term.
Despite his fresh appeal, rhetorical skills that have attracted crowds as large as 75,000 and his historic candidacy, Obama has been losing key constituencies to Clinton by alarming amounts in big battleground states this spring.
It was a strong start for Obama, with a surprise win in Iowa on Jan. 3 that launched his political fortunes into the stratosphere, followed by successive victories in February.
But she's been thumping him among white, blue-collar voters in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia where many think the White House race will be won.
Obama also needs to win back women who are angry that Clinton won't fulfil their cherished dream of breaking the glass ceiling in the Oval Office.
A substantial number of those Democrats are threatening to penalize Obama by voting for McCain, who's been trying to sway them to the Republican side by effusively praising Clinton.
Obama has also faced his share of trouble coping with racial issues that have dented his popularity among more conservative Democrats and independents.
He needs to address doubts about his personal beliefs and patriotism, sparked by incendiary comments from his longtime relationship with ex-pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Obama recently announced he had left the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago that Wright once led - a move that could help him change the perceptions of some who view him with suspicion.
A visiting Roman Catholic clergyman who spoke at the church added to the controversy last week after he said he intended to expose "white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head" and mimicked Clinton weeping over "a black man stealing my show."
i heard him thank michelle and his brothers and sisters, did anyone hear him thank his grandma (the one who raised him, not step-grandma in africa)?
He won with the manufactured delegates from Michigan. If Clinton cannot fight that one in court, they have really lost their touch. She actually ended up with more elected delegates than he did. There is no way I would quit in her position. Super Delegates have shown how fickle they are.
Reminds me of the freak shows in England...Obama and Clinton could have been circus freaks...maybe their current popularity is because our young people never learned anything about history because their liberal professors were more interested in promoting liberalism instead of substance. Snake oil politics never delivers positive change. I wonder if Obama’s ego is so stroked that he doesn’t have a clue to the fact that he could not deliver a millionth of what he has said.
When those tapes are released tomorrow morning, well.. oh wait, I meant when those polling numbers are released... oh never mind. I have to return to the bunker.
Lenora Fulani. In 1988, Fulania psychologistran as an independent and was the first black woman to appear on presidential ballots in all 50 states. She also ran in 1992.
First black Democrat presidential nominee. An amazing turn of events for the party that gave us the KKK, has a Klansman third in line of ascendency for the presidency, and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in greater numbers than the GOP.
None of the delegates were even supposed to count. Michagan was not supposed to count and Clinton herself said that. If the DNC had stuck by their guns, then neither candidate would have one any delegates from Michigan.
one should be won - too late to type.
I thought she was the one who could make a decision when the phone rang in the middle of the night.
Hillary’s speech tonight was pathetic. She gave some honor to Obama in general terms about how he had run a good campaign, but did not address the fact that he’s over the number of delegates needed for nomination. Nor did she concede, instead, saying she was making no decisions tonight. What the heck decision is there for her to make? She lost the nomination (barring unforeseen circumstances).
She’s going to meet with party leaders and check her e-mail as she asked people to e-mail her with suggestions going forward. Is she really going to read her e-mail where people suggest she shoot for the VP job, or run as a 3rd party candidate in the general election? I can’t believe some of the nonsense out of her mouth.
Obama stole half of Hillary's votes in Michigan, and the black racist never received a vote from the people.
It's really disgusting how the Democrats treat their own: No loyalty or fairness at all.
Heaven help us all if they run everything.
I saw a tiny bit of Obama’s speech, talking about a war that never should have been authorized (talk to your pals in the senate, mate!) and saying that the gas prices keep the unemployed from finding work, and to solve this, we need more caps on energy and pollution! Is this the kind of ignorant change that his voters support? Such appalling ignorance couldn’t possibly be serious!
Keep posting it, only bigger and bolder !
Even if it is just for our sake (LOL) she should take it all the way to the convention. There is no way I would give up now especially with the amount of stuff that’s come out about obama after many of the primaries were already done. I think the race is not necessarily over for her and that also she is still after VP if she can’t get POTUS.
Give the superdelegates a chance to have their say and rip the democrats to apart!
One week from now: OBAMA BECOMES FIRST MIXED RACE CANDIDATE TO MAKE THE COVER OF NEWSWEEK THREE TIMES OVER.
“...Clinton refuses to concede Democratic nomination”
Clinton tells entire nation...”Not tonight, I have a headache!”
A year ago I did not think such a headline was possible. Politics is indeed very strange.