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Barack Obama claims historic win

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Barack Obama claims historic win

BY MICHAEL SAUL

DAILY NEWS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT

June 4th 2008

 

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Dunand/Getty

Barack Obama claimed the Democratic nomination for President Tuesday night.

 

ST. PAUL - "Tonight, I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States."

 

With those words, Barack Obama made history Tuesday night.

 

Sixteen months after launching his brash, long-shot quest for the White House, Barack Obama claimed victory as the Democrats' standard-bearer - the first African-American candidate anointed by either major party for the White House.

 

The backdrop chosen for Obama's declaration of victory was an in-your-face message to GOP opponent John McCain - the arena in St. Paul that will be the site of this summer's Republican National Convention. "Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America," Obama said to 17,000 cheering, joyous supporters. Another 15,000 crowded the streets outside.

 

Obama and his wife, Michelle, who wore a violet dress, ascended the stage amid thunderous applause. Obama kissed her on the cheek before she left the stage and he began to speak.

 

The senator thanked his family and staff but reserved his most heartfelt thanks to his grandmother, who lives in Hawaii and can't travel. "Tonight is for her," he said.

 

The nomination prize became Obama's as scores more superdelegates rallied to his side Tuesday. His delegate share from the last two primaries in South Dakota and Montana sealed his win over Hillary Clinton. Obama's bold and successful challenge to Clinton, a former First Lady with worldwide fame and unmatched political machines, ranks with the biggest political upsets in modern American history.

 

Obama, with his fans cheering their approval, offered generous tribute to the vanquished New York senator even as she held off from conceding defeat.

 

"As someone who's shared a stage with her many times, I can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning" is "an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be," Obama said.

 

And then Obama launched right into the fall campaign, blistering McCain as wrong on the Iraq war, the economy and understanding what Americans need. Despite McCain's past reputation as an independent thinker, Obama said, the Arizona senator in the past year "decided to stand with George Bush 95% of the time."

 

Most of all, Obama reached to inspire.

 

"I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people," Obama said.

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