Senator Barack Obama tonight declares himself the Democratic nominee for the presidency, saying in remarks prepared for delivery to a rally in St. Paul, Minn.: "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."
Speaking at the arena where Republicans will hold their national convention in September, Obama paid tribute to the Democrat he battled for the last five months, saying Senator Hillary Clinton "has made history in this campaign not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she's a leader who inspires milions of Americans with her strength, her courage and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight."
With the results expected shortly from the final two primaries of the season, in Montana and South Dakota, Obama was certain to pass the 2,118 delegates he needed to clinch the nomination. A flurry of superdelegates declared for him throughout the day. Moments after the polls closed in South Dakota, television networks said Obama had passed the threshold.
In his prepared remarks, Obama said that sixteen months after he announced his candidacy, "Tonight, after fifty-four hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end."
"At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years to come."
Referring to the hard-fought campaign, Obama said: "There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isnít just about the party in charge of Washington, itís about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation."
Obama applauded presumptive Republican nominee John McCain's long service to the nation, but added that while McCain "can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign. Itís not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year."
"America, this is our moment. This is our time," Obama added. "Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.