Democrats Nominate Obama
Thursday, August 28, 2008
DENVER, Aug. 27 -- Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois completed an improbable and historic journey here Wednesday when he was nominated by acclamation as the Democratic candidate for president, becoming the first African American to lead a major political party into a general-election campaign.
Obama, who just eight years ago attended his first Democratic National Convention and who four years later shot to national prominence with an electrifying keynote address at the gathering in Boston, was given a final symbolic boost Wednesday by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who moved from the convention floor to suspend the roll call of the states and formalize her former rival's nomination by acclamation.
The gesture of conciliation brought to a conclusion the closest and hardest-fought nomination battle Democrats have waged in the modern era of presidential politics, pitting two historic candidacies in a contest that divided the party and left lingering bitter feelings among Clinton loyalists.
But after days of nervous speculation about how the long and often contentious competition would end here in Denver, the nomination-by-acclamation set off a joyous scene on the convention floor, as delegates danced to the strains of "Love Train" and then broke out in chants of "Yes, we can! Yes, we can!"
Hours later, the convention confirmed Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) as the party's vice presidential nominee, and as he finished his acceptance speech, Obama made a surprise visit to the Pepsi Center to praise his running mate; his wife, Michelle; his erstwhile rival 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 on Monday, and then, referring to Hillary Clinton's speech on Tuesday, said, "If I'm not mistaken, Hillary Clinton rocked the house last night."
In his acceptance speech, Biden, the fiery chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cast himself as a champion of working-class families -- a key target group Obama has struggled to win over -- and laid out a sustained critique of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who will accept the GOP nomination next week.
"I am here for everyone I grew up with in Scranton and Wilmington," he said. "I am here for the cops and firefighters, the teachers and assembly-line workers -- the folks whose lives are the very measure of whether the American dream endures."
Time and again, Biden charged, Obama's judgment on foreign policy issues has been superior to McCain's. On domestic issues, he said, McCain would continue the policies of President Bush rather than embrace changes he said the country desperately needs.
"Again and again, on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was proven right," Biden argued. "Folks, remember when the world used to trust us? When they looked to us for leadership? With Barack Obama as our president, they'll look to us again, they'll trust us again, and we'll be able to lead again."
In its response to the night's proceedings, McCain's campaign sought to turn Biden's words against Obama.
"Joe Biden is right: We need more than a good soldier. We need a leader with the experience and judgment to serve as commander in chief from Day One," said spokesman Ben Porritt. "That leader is John McCain."