M A I N   N E W S

I’ll back Obama, says Hillary
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday suspended her historic 16-month-long presidential campaign and endorsed one-time rival senator Barack Obama on a hot and steamy Washington afternoon.

She urged her supporters, packed into the National Building Museum, to join her in working "as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me”. Obama has made history by becoming the first African-American presidential nominee of a major US party. Clinton congratulated him on his “extraordinary victory” and said she would “endorse him and throw my full support behind him”.

“As we join forces with senator Obama and his campaign we will make history together,” she said to the shouts of “we love you” from the crowd.

Clinton noted that she had served in the senate with Obama for four years and gone toe to toe with him in 22 presidential debates. “I have seen his grace and his grit… In his own life, Barack Obama has lived the American dream. In this campaign, he has inspired so many to become involved in the democratic process,” she said. She added that she would now “work my heart out” for Obama.

She said she started her campaign with the intention of winning back the White House from the Republicans, adding it was essential to have a President who puts the US back on the path of peace and prosperity “and that is what we are going to do when Barack Obama walks through the doors of the White House”.

Clinton's speech was aimed at rallying her supporters — 18 million voters — behind Obama after a hard-fought campaign that created bitterness between supporters of the two candidates.

According to a CNN poll taken after Obama won the nomination, 60 per cent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for Obama, but 17 per cent said they would vote for senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee and Obama's rival, in the general election in November. Nearly one-quarter, 22 per cent, said they would not vote at all if Clinton were not the Democratic nominee.

Clinton insisted that the “Democratic Party is a family... We may have started on separate journeys but today our paths have merged”. She contended the journey ahead would not be easy, but echoed Obama's campaign slogan “Yes we can!”

“This isn't exactly the party I had planned,” an emotional Clinton joked before a crowd of raucous supporters at the start of her speech, and thanked them, “18 million of you from all walks of life have stood with me… The dreams we share are worth fighting for."

By suspending her campaign and not ending it altogether Clinton can continue raising funds to pay off her campaign debts of $11 million.

By running for the presidency, both Clinton and Obama set off to make history, the former as the first female presidential nominee and the latter as the first African-American presidential nominee of a major US political party. As expected, only one of them would make history. “Together senator Obama and I achieved milestones, essential to the progress of our nation,” Clinton said.

Clinton angered supporters within the Democratic Party by declaring at the end of the primaries on Tuesday that she would not be conceding even as Obama gathered the required number of delegates to secure the nomination.

As it became clearer that Obama would wrest the party's nomination from Clinton, the former first lady's supporters mounted a campaign to urge Obama to pick her as his running mate.

Clinton and Obama held a clandestine meeting at fellow senator Dianne Feinstein's D.C. residence on Thursday night. Few details emerged from the private meeting.

“She called yesterday afternoon and said, “Could we use your house?” And I said, “Sure”. I received them, put them in the living room in two comfortable chairs facing one another,” Feinstein said. Both candidates brought one staffer each who were sent to Feinstein's study as the two candidates talked separately.

Feinstein said an hour later the two candidates indicated they were done talking. “I came down, and I said, “Good night, everybody. I hope you had a good meeting. And they were laughing, and that was it," Feinstein said.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |