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Obama Is the Presumptive Dem. Nominee

After 152 days of voting and more than 18 months of campaigning, Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama waves to supporters as he arrives Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Reuters)

"Tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States," Obama declared in a speech to a raucous crowd at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Obama went on to praise his Democratic opponents as "the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office" and saved special plaudits for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

He referred to Clinton as "a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight."

Obama was just getting started. "Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton," he said.

Obama also made a direct appeal to those who may be unhappy about the tenor and the results of the Democratic primary campaign. "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," said Obama. "You didn't do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else."

Despite the seeming conclusiveness of the delegate math, Clinton was clearly not in the mood to concede tonight. In a speech to a cheering crowd at Baruch University in New York, she congratulated Obama for the "extraordinary race" he ran, although she did not acknowledge the fact that he had effectively won the nomination. "I will be making no decisions tonight," she said.

Clinton repeatedly touted her popular vote strength, noting that she had received nearly 18 million total votes. "Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week that this race was over, you kept on voting," she said to roars from the assembled crowd. She said her campaign won the swing states "necessary to get to 270 electoral votes."

The speech was widely seen as attempt by Clinton to keep her political leverage as she sorts out what she wants (and what she can reasonably hope to get) in her political future.

What do you think she wants? And will she get it?

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 3, 2008; 10:54 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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