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."
“He won with the manufactured delegates from Michigan. If Clinton cannot fight that one in court, they have really lost”
Bingo. The wheels are probably already in motion. No, never sell the Clinton machine short.
“I thought she was the one who could make a decision when the phone rang in the middle of the night.”
Not so much....all we saw is her ANSWERING the phone (after how many rings???) :-)))
I was VERY surprised at her speech tonight, what I could stand to listen to, anyway. Many of the ratz over at the DU are going nuts over it.
The woman just won’t quit. Not that I mind the turmoil she’s causing!
“She lost the nomination (barring unforeseen circumstances).”
The last three words are KEY.
“It’s really disgusting how the Democrats treat their own: No loyalty or fairness at all.”
DUH - that’s why they’re Democrats.
“Heaven help us all if they run everything. “
yes, look at the horrendous disaster of them (already) running Congress!!!!!
“Is this the kind of ignorant change that his voters support? Such appalling ignorance couldnt possibly be serious!”
to your first question - they’re in love with the face and the voice; to your second statement - yes, it IS serious.
Think about how much destruction the media will bring to McCain once Hillary is gone.
It will be like the arctic battle scene in the Empire Strikes Back.
Obama's media will concentrate all their efforts on destroying McCain just like the Empire focused their big guns on the ill-fated power generator.
"Target sighted! Maximum firepower!"
They can’t do this to Hillary. Don’t they know who she is?
I am still astonished at Pelosi's abandonment of Hillary.
You would think that these old democrat folks would stick together, but there is clearly no room for loyalty in that sick bunch.
Yes, he thanked her and gave her credit for raising him.
I was wondering how he help contain the spread of nuclear weapons as a street activivist in Chicago as he said in his sermon tonight!
I thought she was the one who could make a decision when the phone rang in the middle of the night."This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight."
Yeah . . .
You’re quite right. Obama is a dark mulatto and he took Clinton’s BLACK base....something she took for granted. So much for being the wife of the “first black president”.
The primaries have pointed out that there is no lie too small or too big for Hillary. Only a fool would trust her.
How very Presidential of her.