by Reinout van Wagtendonk
Barack Obama is officially the Democratic Party’s candidate for the US presidency. On the third day of the Democratic convention in Denver his defeated rival, Hillary Clinton, submitted a motion to elect Obama the winner by acclamation, and in his speech her husband Bill Clinton expressed his unconditional support for Obama. Later in the day, Joe Biden was officially elected as Barack Obama’s running mate for the vice-presidency.
A roll call like this, coming forward state by state to vote for the presidential candidate, is largely just a tradition. The result is known in advance. This time too Barack Obama had for months been the unofficial Democratic candidate. But the long and bitter battle with Hillary Clinton for that nomination had left wounds. That’s why the tradition had to take a dramatic turn. Orchestrated drama, of course, since it had been negotiated in advance and arranged precisely so it could be shown live in the half-hour around mealtime when the big three TV networks have their evening news.
Hillary Clinton interrupted the voting ritual with a motion calling for Obama to be elected by acclamation as a united party’s candidate to face the final battle against John McCain:
“I move Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected of this Convention by acclamation as the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.”
With a rapid blow of her gavel, convention chairwoman Nancy Pelosi ensured that whatever opposition remained would not be heard. The convention now belonged to Barack Obama. Most of Hillary’s supporters resigned themselves to the situation.
Ovation for Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton showed no trace of disappointment or resentment whatever. The former president’s speech was received by the Democrats with a lengthy ovation. Until recently Clinton seemed inclined to undermine Obama’s campaign. But on Wednesday evening he said he was convinced that Obama has what it takes to be the leader of the United States:
“My fellow democrats, I say to you, Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world.”Clinton referred to his own presidential campaign in 1992, when the Republicans tried to write him off as an inexperienced lightweight, just as they are doing with Obama today. Clinton didn’t do too badly, as he modestly pointed out. So that should work again in 2008. The speech was the perfect launching pad for vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden and for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech which will round off the convention on Thursday evening.
Obama appears briefly
Obama appeared briefly in the convention hall on Wednesday night, following Joe Biden’s speech. He explained that he would be holding his speech in a huge stadium, before an audience of 80.000 people, because they are the people who will help him to bring about change in America:
“Change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things, and so we want to open up this Convention to make sure that everybody who wants to come can join in the party and join in the effort to take America back.”