Analysis: Obama makes history, pivots to general election – By Mark Preston and Alan Silverleib, CNN Washington Bureau

June 4th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

NEW YORK (CNN) — Barack Obama made history Tuesday night when he became the first African-American in U.S. history to clinch a major party’s presidential nomination. But the Illinois senator faces several challenges as the campaign now turns to the general election — notwithstanding a first order of business of helping to heal the wounds of a deeply divided Democratic Party. (more…)

NEW YORK (CNN) — Barack Obama made history Tuesday night when he became the first African-American in U.S. history to clinch a major party’s presidential nomination. But the Illinois senator faces several challenges as the campaign now turns to the general election — notwithstanding a first order of business of helping to heal the wounds of a deeply divided Democratic Party.

Obama offered an olive branch to rival Hillary Clinton on Tuesday evening, telling supporters at his victory rally in St. Paul, Minnesota that the country and the party “are better off because of her.” He added that Clinton has “an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be.”

Obama and Clinton rounded out the 2008 Democratic primary season by splitting the final two states: Montana and South Dakota. And despite his loss in South Dakota, Obama gained enough delegates to cross the finish line an hour before the Montana polls closed.

As the campaign shifts to the general election, Obama would certainly prefer to commit all of his energy to presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. But the final exit polls, however, indicate he still has work to do to unify his fellow Democrats.

In both South Dakota and Montana, roughly one-third of Clinton’s supporters said they would either vote for McCain or stay home in November. Over half of Clinton’s voters said they would not be satisfied with an Obama nomination. Her voters were evenly split on the question of whether Obama is honest and trustworthy.

The presumptive Democratic nominee is also still struggling to win over the support of Democrats at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder. Specifically, white Democrats without college degrees have not yet fully embraced his candidacy. In South Dakota, non-college educated white voters backed Clinton by 22 points (61 to 39 percent). In Montana, Obama’s performance was better, as he edged out Clinton by five points (48 to 43 percent).

If, however, Obama does not to find a way to significantly strengthen his support with this critical Democratic constituency, he will likely need to compensate by dominating the Independent vote or attracting large swaths of traditionally Republican voters in November.

To do so, Obama is likely to need the strong support of Clinton in the months ahead. The question of how these two bitter rivals come together to help unify the party has not yet been answered. Some of Clinton’s supporters are calling on Obama to tap her as his running mate, but it’s unclear whether these two rivals can overcome the deep divisions of a divisive primary season.


Video Watch the twists and turns of the Democratic primary season »

Clinton, in her speech to supporters Tuesday night in New York, said she was “committed to uniting our party so we move forward stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White House this November.”

But the one-time Democratic front-runner neither conceded the nomination nor offered specifics about what steps she would take to follow through on her declaration.

“In the coming days, I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way,” she said.

Two of Clinton’s top supporters, though, signaled they are ready to close ranks and help Obama take back the White House, which has been under Republican control ever since her husband, Bill Clinton, left office in January 2001.

James Carville said he is ready to open up his wallet to help Obama build a political war chest to take on John McCain in November.

“As soon as she gets out I am going to write him a check,” said Carville, who is a CNN contributor.

Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said late Tuesday afternoon — prior to CNN projecting that Obama clinched the nomination — that he too would help out the Illinois senator.

“If he is the nominee, listen, I will help,” McAuliffe said. “I have helped Democrats now for 30 years, and I will continue to do so.”

While Carville and McAuliffe agreed that the two Democratic rivals would join together to help unify the party, Carville noted that there needs to be time for a healing process as the party prepares for the general election.

“I think the easiest Democrat to win over is Sen. Clinton,” Carville said. “She will be as helpful as she can be.”

But Carville also said that the burden to bring the party together needs to be a joint effort, noting that feelings from this competitive primary are “still kind of raw.”

“She is going to do her part, and he is going to have to do his part too,” Carville said.

McAuliffe predicted that Clinton and Obama “are going to work very close together,” adding that “They both need each other.”

  1. one ethiopia
    | #1

    Wow I can’t believe this; you Ethiopians real going to vote for OBAMA? The obama who doesn’t understand what kind dangers world we liven. What can I say sham on you.
    All Ethiopians supporters of OBAMA (I know there is a lot of stupid and ignorant
    Ethiopians ready to vote for OBAMA but I am not one of them). Don’t be fool. Fascist meles and He’s supporters like to see OBAMA in white house since obama doesn’t know or doesn’t care about what fascist Dictator and terrorist. How many of you stupid Ethiopians know that OBAMA was voted against the removing of fascist dictator sadam Hussein. Obama was said that there is no enough reason to remove sadam from power. But this (stupid ignorant) so called obama did not even know that sadam jailed and kill more than 1 million Iraq’s. What kind of reason obama went more than that? Late me tale you at that time the people of Iraq doesn’t need a reason or doesn’t care sadam has WMD or not they gust went to be free from his fascist rule for 35 years. Because Iraq is in bad ship right now doesn’t mean removing sadam from power is wrong. You Think obama will say the same if one of his family member killed by sadam? I don’t think so. Some one even here tailing me I have to vote for obama because he is a Blackman. Look all of you (stupid and ignorant obama supporters) I know I am black but I will never vote for OBAMA. The obama I know who voted against the removing of killer Sadam. The obama I know who like to set down unconditionally with fascist killer like meles zanawe. The obama I know who like to set down with terrorist and talk. Anyway why he likes to set down with those (shetam arbes the father of shabiy) I think he went to have some camel milk. Fascist leader and terrorist don’t understand peace full negotiation their only language is gun.turest me if you set down with them you will loss. If you don’t believe me ask the kingit (cud) lieder who tray to set down and talk with fascist meles zanawe end up 10,000 their supporters killed and 100,000 thrown in to jail. So gust because obama is a black man you went me to vote for him? I don’t think so I am not ignorant like you. You hypocrite attacking bush the war in Iraq but you never say anything about OBAMA who tray to save sadame. Anyway what is the deferens between fascist lieder and the person who like to see them stay in power?
    Finally I gust went to ask those ignorant obama supporters some simple question
    1, what kinds of reason sadam or meles have when they kill and jailed civilians? If they don’t what kind of reason you need to have to remove those fascist lieder from power?
    2, how many innocent civilians have to be killed by fascist lieder tile stupid OBAMA say enough is enough?
    3, do the fascist have to kill one of your family’s to change your stupid mind?
    4, OBAMA stand for YES WE CAN, HOPE, CHANG, what the f**** it mean
    Anyway? since you are stupid you are not going to give me the right answer.
    And you will say obama this obama that then bla bla bla.by the way what happen to my Ethiopian people you use to be the most conservative almost on everything when did you became supporter of loser democrat you most start believing gay married

  2. London
    | #2

    Hi one Ethiopia

    That is way I vote for him you can solve your family problem by talk so obama like you said
    ‘The obama I know who like to set down with terrorist and talk’
    I think you are real weyane who don’t like talk

  3. one ethiopia
    | #3

    London my breather how did you compare the terrorist with your family? Trust me I am real Ethiopian that’s why I hate fascist meles zanawe. The way I see obama will be easily misled by fascist meles zanawe like he is doing the bush administration. Gust gave few month from now you will start crying by saying obama this obama that. But I will accept your apologia in advance.

    Thank you and god bless you.

  4. | #4

    Hello ‘hello ethiopia’! You may have some good points in your argument but why the use of this intolerant and insulting language in the first place? Why the need to call those who differ with your views ‘ignorant and stupid’?
    And even more uncomfortably why the use of a racist language as’shintam Arabs’?

    Do you seriously believe that all those millions of anti-war protesters around the world who opposed the Iraqi invasion were ‘ignorant and stupid’? Was that opposition equal to supporting the late Sadam Hussein ?

    Is the cost of removing Sadam Hussein interms of the susbequent death and destruction in Iraq justifiable?

    What has done for those who tragically lost their lives in the twin-towers terror attack?

    How did that affect the relationship between the Islamic world and the rest of us?

    One may go on and on asking many more similar questions which can not be answered satisfactorily.

    On the other hand, I largely share your views about Obama.I suspect he may be just onother president,if he is of course elected to be one,doing the usual thing despite those promises of ‘change’ and ‘hope’.

    I don’t think the conservative American political establishment will allow him to bring about any radical changes either domestically or in foreign policy.

    The signs are the establishment is ready to accept him into the white house after ensuring that he is not a ‘subversive’guy and or even serves to better to improve its image both at home and abroad.

    The furore that Omaba has created among African-Americans is understandable although the euphoria seen elsewhere in the world rather misplaced and naive.

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