AP, June 3, 2008
Barack Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, becoming the first black candidate to lead a major party into a campaign for the White House.
Vanquished rival Hillary Rodham Clinton swiftly signaled an interest in joining the ticket as his running mate.
Obama arranged a victory celebration in St. Paul, Minn., at the site of this summer’s Republican National Convention—an in-your-face gesture to Sen. John McCain, who will be his opponent in the race to become the nation’s 44th president.
The 46-year-old Obama outlasted Clinton in a historic campaign that sparked record turnouts in primary after primary, yet exposed deep racial and gender divisions within the party.
According to one participant in an afternoon conference call among Clinton and members of the New York congressional delegation, Rep. Nydia Velazquez said she believed the best way for Obama to win over Hispanics and members of other key voting blocs would be to take the former first lady as his running mate.
“I am open to it,” Clinton replied, if it would help the party’s prospects in November, said the participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the call was a private matter.
Obama sealed his victory based on primary elections, state Democratic caucuses and delegates’ public declarations as well as support from 22 delegates and “superdelegates” who privately confirmed their intentions to The Associated Press. It takes 2,118 delegates to clinch the nomination.
Clinton stood ready to concede that her rival had amassed the delegates needed to triumph, according to officials in her campaign. They stressed that the New York senator did not intend to suspend or end her candidacy in a speech Tuesday night in New York. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been authorized to divulge her plans.
Obama’s triumph was fashioned on prodigious fundraising, meticulous organizing and his theme of change aimed at an electorate opposed to the Iraq war and worried about the economy—all harnessed to his own innate gifts as a campaigner.
With her husband’s two-White House terms as a backdrop, Clinton campaigned for months as the candidate of experience, a former first lady and second-term senator ready, she said, to take over on Day One.
But after a year on the campaign trail, Obama won the kickoff Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, and the freshman senator became something of an overnight political phenomenon.
“We came together as Democrats, as Republicans and independents, to stand up and say we are one nation, we are one people and our time for change has come,” he said that night in Des Moines.
A video produced by Will I. Am and built around Obama’s “Yes, we can” rallying cry quickly went viral. It drew its one millionth hit within a few days of being posted.