Obama Seals Democratic Nomination
A defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton maneuvered for the vice presidential spot on his fall ticket.
Obama's victory set up a five-month campaign with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a race between a 46-year-old opponent of the Iraq War and a 71-year-old former Vietnam prisoner of war and staunch supporter of the current U.S. military mission.
McCain was plainly eager for the race to begin, and accused his younger rival of voting "to deny funds to the soldiers who have done a brilliant and brave job" in Iraq.
In remarks prepared for delivery in New Orleans, McCain agreed with Obama that the presidential race would focus on change. "But the choice is between the right change and the wrong change, between going forward and going backward," he added.
The newly minted Democratic nominee-in-waiting arranged an evening appearance in St. Paul, Minn., sending McCain an unmistakable message by claiming his victory in the very hall where the Arizonan will accept his party's nomination in early September.
Obama sealed his nomination, according to The Associated Press tally, based on primary elections, state Democratic caucuses and delegates' public declarations as well as support from 19 delegates and "superdelegates" who privately confirmed their intentions t/o the AP. It takes 2,118 delegates to clinch the nomination at the convention in Denver this summer, and Obama had 2,128 by the AP count.
Obama, a first-term senator who was virtually unknown on the national stage four years ago, defeated Clinton, the former first lady and one-time campaign front-runner, in a 17-month marathon for the Democratic nomination.
His victory had been widely assumed for weeks. But Clinton's declaration of interest in becoming his ticketmate was wholly unexpected.
She expressed it in a conference call with her state's congressional delegation after Rep. Nydia Velazquez, predicted Obama would have great difficulty winning the support of Hispanics and other voting blocs unless the former first lady was on the ticket.
"I am open to it" if it would help the party's prospects in November, Clinton replied, according to a participant who spoke on condition of anonymity because the call was private.
Obama's campaign had no public reaction to Clinton's comments, which raised anew the prospect of what many Democrats have called a "Dream Ticket" that would put a black man and a woman on the same ballot.
McCain's criticism of Obama referred to a vote last year in which the Illinois senator came out against legislation paying for the Iraq war because it did not include a timetable for withdrawing troops. At the time, Obama said the funding would give President Bush "a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path."
Obama previously had opposed a deadline for troop withdrawal, but shifted position under pressure from the Democratic Party's liberal wing as he maneuvered for support in advance of the primaries.
Tuesday's fast-paced developments unfolded as the long democratic nominating struggle ended with primaries in Montana and South Dakota.
Only 31 delegates were at stake, the final few among the thousands that once drew Obama, Clinton and six other Democratic candidates into the campaign to replace Bush and become the nation's 44th president.
Clinton was in New York for an appearance before home-state supporters. Officials said she would concede Obama had the delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, effectively ending her bid to be the nation's first female president.
The young Illinois senator's success amounted to a victory of hope over experience, earned across an enervating 56 primaries and caucuses that tested the political skills and human endurance of all involved.Â Â
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