USA - VOTE 2008

Clinton urges supporters to back Obama

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 grabs center stage at Barack Obama's White House nominating party Tuesday, under pressure to deliver her millions of grieving voters to the man who crushed her presidential dreams.

In a fresh gesture of unity, despite lingering rumors of tension between the two Democratic giants, Clinton warmly praised Monday's speech by Barack Obama's wife Michelle, who hopes to follow her as first lady in the White House.

"Wasn't Michelle Obama terrific last night?" Clinton asked 2,500 women in a Denver hotel.

"I know a little bit about how the White House works, and you know if the president isn't exactly on our side, call the first lady and with Michelle Obama and we're going to somebody who answers that phone."

The New York Senator's speech was the first of a one-two-punch from the Clintons -- former president Bill Clinton will address the convention on Wednesday after fighting a barely disguised feud with the Obama campaign.

Hillary Clinton's 18 million primary voters are vital to Obama, as his White House race with Republican John McCain has tightened to a dead-heat, and the rivals are slugging out a desperate battle in swing states like Ohio.

The former first lady's speech was set to be a bittersweet moment, as she had hoped the Democratic National Convention in Denver would be the scene of her own coronation, as the first woman presidential nominee in US history.

On Wednesday, Clinton's name will be placed alongside Obama's in the official nominating ballot, in an attempt to placate her supporters, many of whom believe she was deprived of the nomination unfairly.

Obama 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.

But more than 1,000 Clinton supporters did not get the message, marching through Denver to vent their anger at the former first lady's treatment.

Andrea Biggs, 19, said she could not make up her mind who to vote for.

"I want to be able to forgive Barack Obama, but what happened to Hillary bugs me," she said.

In Missouri, on the day before he rolls into the convention to be anointed the first black presidential nominee, Obama lashed Republican rival John McCain and tied him to unpopular President George W. Bush.

"Just remember this: over the last eight years, you've been falling behind," he told American Airlines maintenance workers in a giant hangar.

"Over the last eight years, your lives are less secure," he said, citing rising numbers of people lacking health insurance, or seeing their homes seized during a mortgage crunch, or being unable to save.

Authorities meanwhile said they had found no evidence of a plot to assassinate Obama following the arrest of three men and seizure of a haul of weapons on Sunday.

US Attorney Troy Eid said officials were satisfied that the arrested men were all drug abusers who did not pose a credible threat to Obama.

"It is a very serious federal crime to threaten a presidential candidate. In this case, however, there is insufficient evidence at this time to indicate a true threat, plot or conspiracy against Senator Obama."

The men were arrested after a traffic stop uncovered wigs, two hunting rifles, body armor and drug-making equipment Sunday.

But the incident underlined fears for the safety of Obama, who was under Secret Service protection earlier than any presidential candidate in history.

Republicans meanwhile 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.

Mitt Romney, a former presidential candidate, who is a possible vice presidential pick for McCain, said here that Obama was simply unqualified for the White House.

"John McCain has lifelong experience of serving his country ... he is without question qualified to be president of the United States," Romney said, in a Republican 'war room' set up here to counter the Democrats.

"The policies of Barack Obama would make America a weaker nation."

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