Obama Rewrites History, Clinches Nomination Sen. Barack Obama made history last night as the first black man to lead a major party's bid for the White House. An emotional day included speeches by former President Bill Clinton, vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and a relinquishing of delegates by former candidate Hillary Clinton. Host Michel Martin gives an update from Denver.
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Obama Rewrites History, Clinches Nomination

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Obama Rewrites History, Clinches Nomination

Obama Rewrites History, Clinches Nomination

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I'm Cheryl Corley and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Michel Martin is in Denver this week covering the Democratic National Convention. Coming up, our international briefing. We'll talk with journalists from Kenya and Mexico to get their take on the convention and their perspective about the impact of Senator Barack Obama's presidential bid in their own countries. That's in a bit. But first...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is now my honor to begin with the great state of Alabama.

CORLEY: History was made last night when the Democratic Party nominated Senator Barack Obama as its candidate for president of the United States. He's the first African-American presidential nominee of a major party, and both vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton delivered the major speeches of the night. But perhaps the emotional high point of the day came earlier as Senator Hillary Clinton set aside months of political rivalry and moved to have Obama declare the Democratic nominee by affirmation. Tell Me More host Michel Martin is covering the Democratic convention in Denver and is here now with an update. Hi, Michel.


CORLEY: Quite an emotional evening. Let's start of with that roll call. Typically it's pretty perfunctory, but not so last night, was it?

MARTIN: Emotional is absolutely the word, Cheryl. It's a lesson to all of us that just because something is scripted it doesn't mean it can't be very heavy with meaning. We went to the normal procedure of the states sort of being called up and that's normally a very celebratory event and then all of a sudden you saw Senator Hillary Clinton accompanied by Senator Chuck Schumer making her way to the front of the delegation. It was something that had been talked about and sort of word had been passed around among reporters that they're probably going to cut off the roll call at some point, but when that moment came it just - I can't describe what it was like in the hall. We were only a few feet away and tears, faces flushed, people just jumping to their feet, people just looking at each other and it would burst into tears. It was quite an amazing thing, and I must tell you it's very complicated. It was almost like being at a wake and a wedding on the same day.


MARTIN: Because for some people it was the end of something very, very important, for other people it's the beginning of something very, very important.

CORLEY: Hmm. Well, President Clinton received a thunderous welcome and started by paying tribute to his wife, but then he moved on to assure voters that he is on board with Obama as well. So, let's listen to him.

Former President BILL CLINTON (United States of America): Everything I learned in my eight years as president and in the work I have done since in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job.

CORLEY: So how did the president do and the delegates respond?

MARTIN: There was some concern, I have to say, I think on the part of some of the folks in the Obama campaign about whether President Clinton would stay on the reservation as it were. But after his speech it was just - there was just sort of joy all around because he did something that he only, and as he pointed out, only he and Jimmy Carter have the standing to do, which is to validate Barack Obama as having the credentials, the experience, and the ability to do the job based on their personal knowledge of what it takes to do that job. So I can tell you that there was a lot of happiness on the part of the Obama supporters that President Clinton did such a rousing job of embracing the candidate.

CORLEY: Mm hmm. Well, we're trying to pack a lot in so I want to move quickly to Senator Biden, who is obviously well on board accepting the party's nomination last night, and then he went to work selling the ticket, and here is some tape of him.

Senator JOE BIDEN (Democrat, Virginia): The choice in this election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader, a leader who can change the change that everybody knows we need. Barack Obama's going to deliver that change.

CORLEY: Again, Democratic vice president nominee Joe Biden. Got about a minute left, Michel. How effective was he?

MARTIN: Well, that was clearly the key point that Joe Biden was asked to make, which is that this is not just about the military credentials. This is not just about a certain kind of experience because if the selection is about experience, a certain kind of Washington experience then clearly, John McCain has the edge. Joe Biden was there to make the point that it isn't just about a certain kind of experience. It's about world view and it's about ability and what he said is a wise leader, is the point that you're going to be hearing over and over again.

CORLEY: And the buzz about Obama's speech tonight - I can't imagine the pressure. What kind of message do you think it will be?

MARTIN: I think that this is obviously Barack Obama's moment. Remember part of the reason he's here tonight is because of the speech that he gave in 2004 and that is a speech that rocketed him to sort of national attention. So much anticipation for this speech. I can tell you that there are people all over the country who've come in for this. They brought parents, they brought children trying to be part of this historic moment. I think that the pressure is there but I also think this is - it's something that they've been working on for quite some time and I think that we'll be very interested to see what Senator Obama has to say tonight.

CORLEY: Mm hmm. Tell Me More host Michel Martin joining us from Denver where she is reporting this week from the national convention. Thank you so much.

MARTIN: Oh, thank you, Cheryl.

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