USA - VOTE 2008

'Obama must be our president': Hillary Clinton

The defeated presidential candidate urged Democrats to support Barack Obama, calling herself his "proud supporter". She asked them to "unite ... with a single purpose," at the party's convention in Denver.


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Hillary Clinton on Tuesday called on Democrats to unite as one party behind White House nominee Barack Obama, saying that despite an acrimonious primary duel they were on the "same team."

"Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose," said Clinton, who got a euphoric welcome at her prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention. 

"We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines," said Clinton in an emotional final act in a presidential bid that reached for history but was thwarted by the man who will become America's first black presidential nominee.

Clinton vowed "this is a fight for the future. And it is a fight we must win together," as a raucous crowd in the 18,000 capacity arena chanted "Hillary" and held up white signs bearing a stylized version of her signature.

The former first lady said she had not spent the past "35 years in the trenches" to suffer more "failed leadership" from Republicans.

"No way, no how, no McCain," she said, referring to Republican White House candidate John McCain.

"Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president."

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 McCain has tightened to a dead heat, and the rivals are slugging out a desperate battle for swing states like Ohio.

New York Senator Hillary Clinton acknowledges a 3-minute ovation during at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, August 26. AFP

The former first lady's speech was 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.


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