Hillary Rodham Clinton summoned millions of voters who supported her in the primaries to sendto the White House Tuesday night, declaring in a Democratic National Convention speech that the man who defeated her "is my candidate and he must be our president."
"We don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare," the former first lady added in her prime time address. (
The packed convention floor became a sea of white "Hillary" signs as the New York senator strode to the podium.
While her remarks included a full-throated endorsement of Obama, she did not indicate whether she would have her name placed in nomination or seek a formal roll call of the states when the nomination is awarded by delegates on Wednesday night.
Calling herself a "proud supporter of Barack Obama, she dismissed Republicanwith a few choice words.
"No way. No how. No McCain," she said, prompting the hall to erupt in cheers. "We don't need four more years... of the last eight years."
"Hillary Clinton did just about everything she needed to do in this speech to help heal what divisions remain in this party," said CBSNews.com senior poltical editor Vaughn Ververs. "She was unequivocal in her support for Obama and critical in her assessment of John McCain and the Republican Party. Barack Obama couldn't have wanted much more." ()
Like other failed candidates at conventions past, Clinton recalled her own quest for the White House.
"You taught me so much, you made me laugh and... you even made me cry," she said to supporters in the Pepsi Center and millions more watching on nationwide television.
"You allowed me to become part of your lives, and you became part of mine."
Clinton attempted to reach out to those voters who supported her in the primaries but are not sold on Obama. In a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted earlier this month, more than 40 percent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for McCain or were undecided.
"I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?" she said. She urged them instead to remember Marines who have served their country, single mothers, families barely getting by on minimum wage and other struggling Americans.
"You haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership,"
Despite some delegates' lingering resentment over Clinton's loss, party chairman Howard Dean said earlier the convention was determined to make Obama the nation's 44th president. "There is not a unity problem. If anyone doubts that, wait till you see Hillary Clinton's speech," he said earlier Tuesday.
Meanwhile, fellow Democrats who spoke to the convention delegates ripped into McCain as indifferent to the working class and cozy with big oil.
"If he's the answer, then the question must be ridiculous," New York Gov. David Paterson said of the Republican presidential candidate.
By contrast, Obama will "appeal to us not as Republicans or Democrats, but first and foremost as Americans," former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner said in the convention's keynote address. "We need leaders who see our common ground as sacred ground." (
"Call the roll!" urged Ted Sorensen, a party elder eager to propel Obama toward the White House as the first black president.
Not yet. Obama's formal nomination was set for Wednesday night.
In contrast to many of Tuesday's earlier speeches delivered out of prime time, Warner's remarks dwelt more on a vision of the post-partisan possibilities of an Obama administration than on criticism of McCain and President Bush.
"I know we're at the Democratic National Convention, but if an idea works, it really doesn't matter if it has an 'R' or 'D' next to it," he said.
As keynoter, Warner's task was the same one that Obama - then an Illinois state lawmaker running for the U.S. Senate - used four years ago to launch his astonishing ascent in national politics.
"I just don't think he gets it. He is out of touch. I don't think he realizes what ordinary American families are going through," Obama said at an overhaul base for American Airlines in Kansas City, Mo. (Read more on Obama's remarks)
It was more of that sentiment - much more - as a parade of speakers criticized McCain at the convention several hundred miles away.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the Republican has voted against "real sex education, voted against affordable family planning. And if elected, John McCain has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade," she said, referring to the landmark 1973 case that affirmed women's right to abortion.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland focused on economic issues. "While families are losing sleep tonight trying to figure out some way to make their paycheck stretch through one more day, John McCain is sleeping better than ever," he said, recalling that McCain had recently said Americans were better off because of President Bush's policies.
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said oil companies were "placing their bets on John McCain, bankrolling his campaign and gambling with our future."
"John McCain offers four more years of the same Bush-Cheney policies that have failed us," summed up Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Sorensen was a link to some of the party's glory years, John F. Kennedy's closest aide. As was the case with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's emotional appearance on the convention's opening night Monday, Sorensen's presence on the podium was designed to strengthen the image of Obama as Kennedy's worthy heir.
It was a recurrent theme.
"This is our time to revive the spirit of Kennedy," said Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.
Obama delivers his acceptance speech Thursday night at a football stadium. An estimated 75,000 tickets have been distributed for the event, meant to stir additional comparisons with Kennedy's appearance at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1960.
CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield reported that there had been a high level of anxiety at the convention among Democrats so far.
"It's the mile-high city," Greenfield said. "Maybe a little high anxiety is not expected, but I'm not surprised because a lot of Democrats thought at this point they would be well ahead of the Republicans, given the unpopularity of the president and the economic conditions… there is this kind of impatience. 'When are we going to go after John McCain?' Especially, since four years ago at the Kerry convention in Boston they said, 'no negativity' and they thought it hurt."
Tuesday's rhetorical attacks on McCain, however, seemed likely to put a stop to unusual convention week sniping from two well-known aides to former President Clinton, who'd complained the earlier speeches were too timid.
Paul Begala had spoken dismissively of Warner's plans to go easy on McCain. "This isn't the Richmond Chamber of Commerce," he said.
"If this party has a message, it's done a hell of a job hiding it," James Carville told CNN as he reviewed Monday's opening night program.
If Obama's advisers had any reaction to the sniping, they kept it to themselves. The Illinois senator has cast himself as a different kind of politician, a "post-partisan" whose stock in trade is to forge a change in the way campaigns are conducted. Still, Obama has gone after Clinton and McCain sharply when aides thought it necessary.
The Republican National Convention meets in St. Paul, Minn., next week to nominate McCain and his still-unnamed running mate. That will set the stage for a final sprint to Election Day in a race that is remarkably close.
"My inclination is you have to be careful about attacking McCain" because his life's story buys him deference, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said in an Associated Press interview. The Republican presidential hopeful was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years.
Dean, the Democratic party chairman, added there were other imperatives for a week of convention speechmaking, principally "to make sure people know who Barack Obama is, whois."
Whatever tone the Democrats took, there was no mistaking McCain's intentions.
For the second time in three days, his campaign sought to use Clinton to wound Obama. This time it was a television commercial that made use of a memorable ad she ran in the primaries.
It shows sleeping children and a 3 a.m. phone call into the White House portending a crisis. In the new ad Clinton is shown saying: "I know Sen. McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And, Sen. Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."
A narrator adds: "Hillary's right. John McCain for president."
Some Democrats expressed concern about the potential for at least the appearance of disunity on television later in the week.
Don Fowler, a former party chairman, said there was more of a problem than he had anticipated. "All you need is 200 people in the crowd to boo and stuff like that and it will be replayed 900 times. And that's not what you want out of this."