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Clinton Urges Backers to Look to November
She noted that, even as she spoke, the 50th female astronaut was headed into outer space on a mission.
"If we can blast 50 women into space, we will someday launch a woman into the White House," said Clinton, who throughout the campaign often mentioned her own thwarted desire to be an astronaut at a time when women were not allowed to apply.
"And although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it," she said.
Clinton, 60, said that her own journey will make it easier for other women in the future. "You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories, unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the president of the United States," she said. "And that is truly remarkable, my friends."
She continued: "To those who are disappointed that we couldn't go all the way . . . it would break my heart if, in falling short of my goal, I in any way discouraged any of you from pursuing yours. Always aim high, work hard and care deeply about what you believe in."
It was, in essence, a description of the Clinton credo, a summary of the path she has followed over the course of a career as lawyer, first lady and U.S. senator. Her hard work had earned her a political role in her own right, after eight years in the White House with her husband; her characteristic resilience had carried her through personal crises again and again, from her husband's impeachment to her own defeat in the first Iowa caucuses in January.
In the end, her determination led her to stay in the race, even after Obama's victory looked certain. On Tuesday, she won the primary in South Dakota and, despite network projections and Obama's own claim that he had gained enough delegates to capture the nomination, refused to concede. Instead, she restated what her candidacy had achieved and said she would be "making no decisions tonight."
For days, her intentions were unclear. But on Thursday night, she met privately with Obama at the Washington home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and on Friday signaled she would endorse him at yesterday's event.
Yesterday, she devoted part of her remarks to remembering her campaign, but that trademark defiance gave way to urging support for Obama.
On Friday, in one of the first visible steps toward party unity, Chelsea Clinton flew to Texas to appear at the Democratic state party convention to thank her mother's supporters -- becoming the first family member to publicly encourage backing Obama.
After Clinton's speech, Obama issued a statement thanking her and praising her "valiant and historic campaign."
"She shattered barriers on behalf of my daughters and women everywhere, who now know that there are no limits to their dreams," he said. "And she inspired millions with her strength, courage and unyielding commitment to the cause of working Americans. 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 in this campaign.