Hillary Clinton backs ‘my candidate’ Obama (Lead)

August 27th, 2008 - 10:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 27 (IANS) Hillary Clinton put the bitterness of a long, hard campaign behind her to endorse Barack Obama as a “proud supporter” in asking Democrats to unite to win back the White House in November.”Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose,” she said at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday as she called on her party to rally behind her former rival.

“We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines. This is a fight for the future. And it’s a fight we must win together,” said the former first lady, who had stuck on tenaciously till the very end in the primaries for the Democratic nomination.

“No way. No how. No McCain. Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president,” Clinton said, asking her disappointed supporters not to switch sides to the Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

Thanking her voters for supporting her historic campaign as a female candidate, she told those still wary of Obama that they weren’t in this for her, but for her cause. “That cause is the same thing that Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party are fighting for.”

Hiding her disappointment at not being picked up for the number two spot, Clinton also praised Obama’s newly tapped vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden, calling him “pragmatic, tough and wise.”

Clinton was met with a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience. Only a few pockets of the standing-room only convention centre weren’t on their feet cheering for her in what was described as the biggest reception of the evening.

Obama called Clinton after the speech and thanked her for her support and said she could not have done a better job.

Before Clinton spoke, there was widespread speculation about what she would say and how far she would go in endorsing Obama. But the speech, and Clinton’s delivery of it, received extremely positive reviews in Wednesday’s newspapers.

Clinton accepted “defeat with grace and generosity,” and “moved to close the divide among fellow Democrats on Tuesday night by offering a forceful and unequivocal endorsement of her fierce rival,” said the Los Angeles Times.

Clinton “deferred her own dreams,” said the New York Times, “and delivered an emphatic plea… to unite behind her rival, Senator Barack Obama, no matter what ill will lingers.”

She “betrayed none of the anger and disappointment that she still feels and that, friends say, has especially haunted her husband,” former President Bill Clinton, it said.

Even the conservative Washington Times called it a “rousing speech” that laid “rest to a bitter primary battle that left many of her supporters- especially women-seething months later.”

But some also suggested that Obama has not yet won over all Clinton backers. The Washington Post, for one noted that “the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that only 42 percent of Clinton voters classify themselves as ’solidly behind’ Obama, and 20 percent plan to vote for McCain.

“But in Denver, Clinton supporters sometimes classified themselves as belonging to one of two categories: the sad and the angry.”

A “significant number” of Clinton’s top fund-raisers “remain on the sidelines and unwilling to work for” Obama, said the New York Times describing it as “a nettlesome problem that appears to be contributing to the campaign’s failure to keep pace with ambitious fund-raising goals it set for the general election.”

Meanwhile, Democratic officials were concerned at the results of the latest Gallup daily presidential tracking poll showing Republican rival John McCain creeping ahead of Obama 46 percent-44 percent. The race had been tied at 45 percent for the previous two days.

Noting that Obama “has led McCain in the head to head surveys most of the summer but things at the moment appear to be changing,” the Fox News said, “if Barack Obama gets the traditional post-convention bounce in the polls it can’t come soon enough.”

The Rasmussen Reports automated daily presidential tracking poll of 3,000 likely voters for August 26 too shows Obama and McCain tied at 44 percent, and at 46 percent-46 percent including leaners.

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