Saturday, June 07, 2008

Clinton Urges Her Supporters to Work for Obama

Hillary Clinton ended her campaign for the presidency today and asked her supporters to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

From Newsweek:

Everyone knew it would be a loaded speech—especially Hillary Clinton. Almost 16 months after launching her bid for the presidency, she brought it to a close in Washington on Saturday, thanking her supporters and throwing her "full support" behind the party's presumptive nominee. "I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me," she said.

Hillary approached the podium in Washington's National Building Museum with an air of melancholy, in spite of the large crowd of cheering supporters. She started her speech acknowledging that circumstances were less than ideal. "Well, this isn't exactly the party I planned but I sure like the company."

Clinton was acutely aware that her words and facial expressions would be closely magnified, but at times it seemed she couldn't hide her disappointment. "She's obviously really bummed," a junior campaign staffer told NEWSWEEK. Prior to the campaign's widely publicized endgame, Clinton invited about 150 staffers over the night before for a small get together at her home, where she looked "upbeat" and "happy." "She's always in a really fun mood, so it's tough to tell how she's really feeling," said the same staffer, who was not authorized, even at the campaign's end, to discuss the inner workings of the campaign.

Read the rest.

You can read the whole speech here, but this is the crucial section:

The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States.

Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him.

And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.

I have served in the Senate with him for four years. I have been in this campaign with him for 16 months. I have stood on the stage and gone toe-to-toe with him in 22 debates. I've had a front-row seat to his candidacy, and I have seen his strength and determination, his grace and his grit.

In his own life, Barack Obama has lived the American dream, as a community organizer, in the state senate, as a United States senator. He has dedicated himself to ensuring the dream is realized. And in this campaign, he has inspired so many to become involved in the democratic process and invested in our common future.

Now, when I started this race, I intended to win back the White House and make sure we have a president who puts our country back on the path to peace, prosperity and progress. And that's exactly what we're going to do, by ensuring that Barack Obama walks through the doors of the Oval Office on January 20, 2009.

Now, I understand — I understand that we all know this has been a tough fight, but the Democratic Party is a family. And now it's time to restore the ties that bind us together and to come together around the ideals we share, the values we cherish, and the country we love.

We may have started on separate journeys, but today our paths have merged. And we're all heading toward the same destination, united and more ready than ever to win in November and to turn our country around, because so much is at stake.

This is exactly the tone she needed today, and that the party needed to hear. It remains to be seen what percentage of her supporters will get behind Obama, but most people suspect that he will get the majority of them.

What seemed clear to me in this speech was the subtext of her running as a woman more than as a Democrat. Good old fashioned identity politics. Andrew Sullivan thought the same thing:
One theme stuck out to me: she essentially said that even though she was careful to avoid ever saying that she was running because she was a woman and that people should vote for her because she is a woman, that's what she believes in private. That's the theme she spoke of most compellingly. She is Ellen Malcolm's spiritual sister. In the end, Clinton remains wedded to the identity politics of her generation and her time. It's a powerful message after so many long decades and centuries in which women have been denied full equality in law and society. It's a necessary message and a moral message. But it becomes circular and self-defeating when it becomes its own rationale.
Hopefully, Clinton's highly successful campaign this year will make it easier for a woman to run and win in the future. There are many women with her political skill -- and without the burden of being married to Bill, who I think really damaged her campaign by urging her to go negative.

Obama isn't the perfect candidate some think he is, nor is he the pseudo-Messiah Jonah Goldberg makes him out to be. Is he better for America than John McCain? I think so.

Some people worry about Obama's support of universal health care, but I doubt that it will ever happen, even if he pushes for it. On the issue of Iran, even Pat Buchanan believes he is correct to suggest we talk to Iran.

No matter what anyone thinks of his policy positions, I think that Obama represents a more thoughtful, multilateral, compassionate politics.

Don't vote for him because he will be the first black president -- vote for him because he will be the first truly 21st century president.

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