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Clinton to urge party unity behind Obama

Latest update : 2008-08-27

Hillary Clinton gives a keynote speech Tuesday night at the Denver Democratic convention, rallying her ardent supporters to unite behind Barack Obama, who is due to be nominated as the party's presidential candidate.

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Hillary Clinton takes center stage Tuesday vowing to unite Democrats after her primary battle with Barack Obama, on the second day of the convention that will crown him as White House nominee.

The former first lady will make a closely watched primetime speech, at an event which she had hoped would mark the moment when she made her own piece of history, by becoming the first woman presidential nominee.

But instead, as rumors of discord between the two camps still circulate, she will urge her disgruntled followers to back Obama, who will become the first black nominee of a major US political party.

"Let there be no mistake about it, we are united," Clinton said on the eve of her appearance.

The Obama campaign hopes to use Clinton's appearance to wrench the focus onto the economic worries rattling many Americans, including her legions of blue collar supporters who the party needs to beat Republican John McCain.

"Tonight, when Hillary Clinton speaks, she will be an articulate voice for the working men and women, the middle class families that have been squeezed and she will make the case -- as she uniquely can -- for why Barack Obama is the right choice for the presidency," said Obama campaign spokeswoman Anita Dunn.

On Monday, Obama's wife Michelle was the star of the show, and she pledged allegiance to the "blessing" of the American dream.

On an emotional night, cancer-stricken liberal icon Edward Kennedy also spoke to pass his dynasty's torch of idealism to Obama, who will be give his acceptance speech on Thursday night.

Michelle Obama, who some conservatives claim lacks the values of heartland America, portrayed her husband as a crusader for justice and said his showdown with Republican John McCain came at a pivotal moment in US history.

"I stand here today at the cross-currents of that history, knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me," said the aspiring first lady.

And she paid a pointed tribute to Clinton as rumors rumbled of discord between the two camps at the start of the convention.

She lauded "people like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters and sons can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher."

Later, Obama's daughters Sasha and Malia blew kisses from the stage over a satellite link to their dad, in a moment laden with political imagery, as Obama's campaign attempted to flesh out his life story.

"I love you Daddy," seven-year-old Sasha said at the climax of the convention's first night, watched by thousands of Democratic activists in a Denver arena, and a target audience of millions of television viewers at home.

Michele, 44, said she and her husband, were driven by a "simple belief" that the "world as it is just won't do."

"That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack's journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope," she said.

"That is why I love this country."

Local media, meanwhile, reported that police had arrested four men in connection with a possible plot to assassinate Obama at the stadium, but a federal prosecutor said there was no credible threat.

Kennedy, 76, made a surprise appearance at the political extravaganza, barely three months after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

"This November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama, and for you, and me, our country will be committed to his cause," roared the Massachusetts senator.

"The work will begin anew, the hope will rise again, and the dream lives on," said Kennedy, elder statesman of America's most fabled political dynasty.

Polls still show that despite Clinton's repeated public shows of support for Obama, many of her voters are still not reconciled to voting for her former rival.

Republicans made new attempts to spoil the party, with new advertisements featuring Clinton's pointed criticisms over Obama's experience and capacity to lead from the Oval Office.

Date created : 2008-08-26