Obama makes history with Democratic nomination (Lead)

August 28th, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 28 (IANS) Completing a stage in an incredible journey, Barack Obama made history as the Democratic party named him as its candidate in the November US presidential election, making him the first African American to lead a major political party ticket.Obama, 47, won the historic nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, Wednesday by acclamation after his tenacious former rival Hillary Clinton released her delegates before the roll call to announce that she was voting for Obama and his running mate, Joseph Biden.

“With eyes firmly fixed on the future, and in the spirit of unity with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and our country, let’s declare together with one voice right here, right now that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president,” she said, asking the roll call to be cut short when time came for the New York delegation to vote.

“Is there a second?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the crowd of more than 4,400 delegates. She pounded a gavel to declare the motion adopted when they affirmed with cheers Obama, the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas, as their choice to take on Republican John McCain.

The delegates held hands together up high, danced and swayed back and forth to the song “Love Train” in celebration of the moment as Pelosi announced a little later that Obama had accepted the nomination and would tell them so himself in his acceptance speech Thursday night. “Yes we can,” the crowd chanted. “Obama!”

Hours later, the convention confirmed Biden as the party’s vice-presidential nominee, and as he finished his acceptance speech, Obama made a surprise visit to the Pepsi Centre convention venue.

He praised his running mate; his wife Michelle, Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, who had delivered a powerful speech on behalf of Obama earlier in the night.

“I think the convention’s gone pretty well so far, don’t you think?” Obama said. He cited his wife’s speech Monday, and then, referring to Hillary Clinton’s speech Tuesday, said, “If I’m not mistaken, Hillary Clinton rocked the house last night.”

In his acceptance speech, Biden, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hammered McCain saying he promised a continuation of the Bush administration’s foreign policy that had “failed” to address issues like the emergence of India and China as “great powers”.

Labelling Washington’s policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan as an “abysmal failure”, he said those responsible for the 9/11 attacks in the US have regrouped in mountains between the two countries and plotting new attacks.

“For last seven years, the administration has failed to face the biggest forces shaping this century, the emergence of Russia, China and India as great powers; the spread of lethal weapons; and resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.

On domestic issues too, he said, McCain would continue the policies of President George Bush rather than embrace changes that he said the country desperately needs.

Biden was preceded on the podium by Bill Clinton, who too endorsed Obama’s candidature, saying he was “ready to be president” after months of attacks from Hillary Clinton supporters on the Democratic nominee’s lack of experience.

“Last night Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she is going to do everything in her power to elect Barack Obama,” said Clinton.

“That makes two of us - actually that makes 18 million of us,” he said, referring to the number of Democratic primary voters who backed Hillary Clinton.

In honour of Clinton’s historic primary battle as a female candidate that caused 18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling as she called it, the former first lady’s name had been put on the ballot along with Obama in a symbolic gesture.

As Obama arrived in Denver, Clinton released her delegates Wednesday afternoon, allowing those who had been pledged to her to vote for whomever they choose in a roll call vote later in the day.

“This was such a competitive primary season,” Clinton told her delegates in a packed ballroom at the Denver Convention Centre. “I want you to know this has been a joy. Boy did we have a good time trying.”

Clinton has strongly urged her backers to support Obama, but some appear to be backing Republican John McCain in growing numbers.

A CNN poll taken at the end of June indicated that 16 percent of Clinton’s supporters intended to vote for McCain.

A new CNN poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, showed that 27 percent of her voters now said they supported the Republican candidate.

It also found that 60 percent of voters said they believe McCain would better handle the issue of terrorism, whereas 36 percent have more faith in Obama. A majority also said it believes McCain is more likely than Obama to be a strong and decisive leader.

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