Obama banks on Clinton to propel White House bid

June 8th, 2008 - 11:23 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 7 (IANS) With his once formidable rival Hillary Clinton finally endorsing him, Democratic nominee Barack Obama quickly harnessed her full support, calling it “invaluable” in his historic run for the White House to take on Republican John McCain. “Senator Clinton will be invaluable to our efforts to win in November,” Obama said in an email to supporters Saturday afternoon, “and I look forward to campaigning alongside her to bring this country the change it so desperately needs.

“Hillary and her supporters are joining us at an urgent moment,” he said shortly after Clinton endorsed Obama’s bid to become the first black president of the United States, finally ending her own quest for the White House.

“I endorse him and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me,” the former first lady told a cheering crowd in Washington four days after she lost the party nomination to Obama.

Clinton ended her own history making run to be the first woman chief executive shortly after noon Saturday at a rally in the historic National Museum Building, where she and her husband Bill Clinton celebrated his presidentiial victories in 1992 and 1996. If Hillary Clinton was “very generous” in her concession speech, Obama was equally fulsome in his praise for the doughty rival with whom he had battled for the last five months and 57 contests for the Democratic party nomination.

“Senator Clinton made history over the past 16 months-not just because she has broken barriers, but because she has inspired millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to causes like universal health care that make a difference in the lives of hardworking Americans,” Obama said.

“Our party and our country are stronger because of the work she has done throughout her life, and I’m a better candidate for having had the privilege of competing with her,” he said in a statement just over an hour after Clinton completed her speech.

“No one knows better than Senator Clinton how desperately America and the American people need change, and I know she will continue to be in the forefront of that battle this fall and for years to come,” said Obama who watched her speech over the Internet while relaxing with his family in Chicago.

He put in a call to Clinton afterward, but was told by a Clinton assistant that she was speaking with supporters.

The way for Clinton’s endorsement of Obama was apparently paved at a secretive meeting between the two Thursday night ostensibly to discuss how to begin unifying the party behind the Democratic nominee. The meeting itself came shortly after Clinton disavowed a campaign by her supporters to make her his vice presidential mate.

The Clinton camp has made it widely known that she would accept the No. 2 slot if it was offered, but the push was viewed as putting undue pressure on Obama to pick his former rival.

Despite her wholehearted endorsement of Obama, critics still detected some ambiguity in her speech announcing a suspension of her presidential campaign rather than ending. But it was explained it was essentially a legal thing.

By suspending the campaign, technically Clinton still remains a candidate and can raise money to retire the millions in debt that she has accumulated. It would also allow the delegates elected in her name at the primaries to be seated at the party convention in August, which would formally choose the party nominee.

In her speech, Clinton left little doubt about her transformation. She encouraged party unity, acknowledging that the fight has been hard, but saying “the Democratic Party is a family, and now it’s time to restore the ties that bind us together.”

“To all those who voted for me, my commitment to you is unyielding. You have inspired and touched me. You have humbled me with your commitment,” she said.

“Eighteen million of you from all walks of life - women, and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-American and Caucasian, rich and poor, middle-class, gay and straight … you have stood with me,” she said.

“When I was asked what it means to be a woman running for president, I always gave the same answer: I was proud to be running as a women, but I was running because I thought I’d be the best president,” said Clinton.

“But I am a woman, and like millions of women, I know that there are still barriers and biases out there, often unconscious. And I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us.”

Clinton said that as she spoke, America’s 50th woman in space was orbiting Earth in the space shuttle Discovery. If the nation can put 50 women in space, it can launch a woman into the White House, she said to loud cheers.

“Although we weren’t able to shatter this highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before,” she said turning her electoral battle to the feminist cause.

“It is this belief and optimism that Senator Obama and I share,” Clinton said, “that has inspired so many millions of supporters to make their voices heard.”

So today, I am standing with Sen. Obama to say, ‘Yes, we can,’” she said borrowing her onetime opponent’s catch phrase.

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