DON GONYEA: This is Don Gonyea with the Obama campaign in Des Moines, where he was greeted last night by a raucous crowd of 7,500 at an outdoor rally not far from the State Capitol building.
(Soundbite of song, "Beautiful Day")
BONO (Lead Singer, U2): (Singing) You know I'm not a hopeless case. What you don't have…
GONYEA: This is where Obama won his first big victory this year in the Iowa caucuses back on January 3rd, and he came back to celebrate and to remember.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): It is good to be back in Iowa.
(Soundbite of applause)
GONYEA: And while yesterday's primaries may have been a split decision for Obama, he easily strode past another milestone in the race. With last night's results, the Obama campaign has guaranteed that the primary season will end with him holding a majority of the delegates won in primaries and caucuses.
Sen. OBAMA: We have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people…
(Soundbite of applause)
Sen. OBAMA: …and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for president of the United States of America.
GONYEA: But Obama did stop just short of claiming the nomination itself. It's not that he doubts the trend. For months, he led among pledged delegates but trailed among superdelegates. And earlier this month, he passed Hillary Clinton in that category as well, opening a lead that continues to widen almost daily. But he also has to be careful not to anger Clinton supporters by prematurely declaring her candidacy over before she does so herself, hence this language at the Des Moines rally last night.
Sen. OBAMA: Senator Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and your daughters will come of age. And for that, we are grateful to her.
GONYEA: But for the Iowa-based Obama supporters standing outside on this relatively balmy evening, Obama was back in their town to mark the spot where his ascent began while they, these voters, say they are ready for the next big test. Jason Belding is a 38-year-old Des Moines banker.
Mr. JASON BELDING (Banker): I think most of the people kind of realize that it's his nomination. I mean, all you hear him talking about is McCain, McCain, McCain. And when this is all done, all the Democrats are going to come together and get it going.
GONYEA: Obama is in Florida today and is, indeed, campaigning full time against John McCain, a strategy he'll continue over the next two weeks, while the last three primaries add their votes to the national tally.
Don Gonyea, NPR News, Des Moines.
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