Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead!
Obama in St. Paul: “Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.”
by Bonney Kapp
In the arena that will be filled with GOP faithful in just a few months at the Republican Convention, Barack Obama will tell several thousand on hand an significantly more watching on television that after 54 contests, the primary season has come to an end. “Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States,” he is expected to say according to prepared remarks sent out to reporters.
On the hour-long flight from Chicago to St. Paul, Minnesota, Senior Advisor David Axelrod told the press that while the historic nomination has yet to sink in for him, Barack Obama is already thinking about what’s next. “He’s already thinking about where we go from here. But he’s obviously very happy.” Axelrod noted that while tonight’s a time to celebrate their hard-fought win, “We’re gonna wake up tomorrow and we’re gonna start all over again because we’re not in this you know simply to break a barrier, we’re in this to try and change a country.”
Staffers refused to talk about Hillary Clinton as a potential running mate - the line repeated to reporters on the campaign plane: “We don’t have a short list or a long list. We’re coming here tonight to finish the process of winning this nomination, then we’ll turn our attention to the notion of who the running mate will be,” Axelrod explained.
But Barack Obama will heap praise on his soon to be former rival at his victory rally. “Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she’s a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she’s a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight….You can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory. When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen. Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton,” he will say according to prepared remarks.
Party unity, after all, will be needed to beat John McCain this fall. “At the end of the day, we aren’t the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn’t do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.”
June 4th, 2008 12:13 AM Eastern
All But Defeated, Clinton Not Going Anywhere - For Now
by Aaron Bruns
Hillary Clinton conceded nothing tonight at Baruch College in New York - not the delegate count, where her rival Barack Obama passed the threshold of 2,118 delegates required to win the nomination, and certainly not the Democratic primary.
Instead, Clinton thanked the voters of South Dakota for delivering a final win in her 2008 campaign, and told supporters she’d continue fighting for her beliefs and for theirs — from instituting universal health care to ending the war in Iraq.
To that end, she said she’s going ahead with her campaign — but with an eye toward party unity. “In the coming days, I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way,” she said.
With Obama clinching the requisite number of delegates tonight, moving forward for Clinton would mean convincing delegates currently pledged to him to switch sides at the convention — which some Democrats say would be a blow to the Party. But Clinton said she has Democrats’ interests at heart. “I am committed to uniting our Party, so we move forward, stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White House this November,” she said.
“Now the question is, where do we go from here, and given how far we’ve come and where we need to go as a party, it’s a question I don’t take lightly,” Clinton told the crowd. “This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.”
She asked supporters to help her decide by submitting suggestions on her website — where, conveniently, they can donate to the campaign. Those in the room seemed to be in agreement on where to go next — chanting “Denver! Denver!” to urge the New York Senator to take her fight to the convention in August.
But first, Clinton congratulated Obama for running what she called an extraordinary race. “It has been an honor to contest these primaries with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend. And tonight, I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize him and his supporters for all they have accomplished,” she said.
Clinton seemed to acknowledge that many Americans are wondering what’s keeping her from dropping out now that all the votes are cast and her opponent has clinched the delegate count — but she had no good answers. “I understand that a lot of people are asking, what does Hillary want? What does she want? Well, I want what I have always fought for in this whole campaign,” Clinton said. “I want to end the war in Iraq. I want to turn this economy around. I want health care for every American. I want every child to live up to his or her God-given potential, and I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible.”
The New York Senator leveled no attacks on Obama, but spent a significant amount of time discussing the need for universal health care, a frequent contrast point over the course of the campaign. “I have been working on this issue not just for the past 16 months, but for 16 years. And it is a fight I will continue until every single American has health insurance. No exceptions and no excuses,” she said.
In doing so, Clinton hinted at one possible reason she’s still around — leverage. When she inevitably sits down with Obama, she can use her delegates and her constituency to try to convince Obama to adopt her mandated coverage plan, which she’s argued is the only way to get to universal coverage.
Obama mentioned that inevitable sit-down when the two Democrats finally spoke on this final election night (poor cell phone reception in the gym where Clinton held her event led to a few voice mail messages being exchanged, and one aborted conversation that was cut off due to lack of service). While Clinton did not set a time for the meeting, both candidates are in Washington on Wednesday.
In the end, Clinton said that even though the primary contest was a grueling one, democracy and the Democrats won by her staying in the race. “A record thirty-five million people voted in this primary, from every state, red, blue, purple, people of every age, faith, color and walk of life. And we have brought so many people into the Democratic Party and created enthusiasm among those we seek to serve.”
“While this primary was long, I am so proud we stayed the course together because we stood our ground, it meant that every single United States citizen had a chance to make his or her voice heard.” In wrapping up the first long phase of the primary campaign, Clinton made it clear it’s not the last time we’ve heard her voice; most immediately, we’ll hear it on Wednesday morning as she addresses an AIPAC conference in Washington just minutes after Obama. And superdelegates will hear a lot of it tomorrow, as Clinton is set to hole up in her Washington home making phone calls all day long.