Barack Obama received the formal nomination for president on August 27, at the Democratic National Convention. The first African-American presidential nominee of a major party got to that point with the help of Hillary Clinton.
This year’s Democratic National Convention, chaired by Howard Dean was held in Denver, Colorado. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, oversaw the voting.
There are more than 4,400 delegates charged with nominating the party’s presidential candidate. Most of those state-based delegates are pledged to vote for one candidate, based on the primary results in their state. Depending on the state, it is as a result of either the primary election or the caucus afterwards.
Florida and Michigan delegates were a special case at the convention. Both states held their primaries prior to February 5, the date set by the DNC. Michigan held its primary on January 15 and Florida followed on January 29. The DNC ruled that both states violated party rules and sanctioned all their delegates, voiding their right to vote.
When the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee met at the end of May, they relented, after hearing various arguments, including from Hillary Clinton, who wanted all the delegates seated and Obama who wanted none seated. The Rules Committee compromised, allowing all of the delegates to be seated, but reducing the value of their votes by 50%. That meant the 210 delegates effectively had the power of 105 votes at the convention. The same thing happened to Michigan and their 156 delegates were effectively worth 78 votes.
Neither Clinton nor Obama campaigned in Florida and Michigan, but Clinton remained on the ballot, and easily won the primaries in both states.
Hillary Clinton “released” her delegates, to allow them to vote for the candidate of their choice. This is a procedure that complies with DNC rules.
Once Obama’s nomination was secure, it was reported the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee met and discreetly restored full voting rights to both states.
A roll call vote at the convention saw delegates from each state verbally casting their ballots, and many, but not all, switched from Clinton to Obama.
Clinton, Delegates Nominate Barack Obama
When it was New York delegation’s turn to cast their votes, Hillary Clinton turned on a piece of theatre, calling for the suspension of the roll call. She said, “With eyes firmly fixed on the future in the spirit of unity … let’s declare together in one voice, right here and right now, that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president.”
The motion was approved on a voice vote, and the Illinois senator was duly nominated as the 2008 Democratic presidential candidate.
Nancy Pelosi said, “It is with great pride that I announce that Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for the United States of America.”
At that point, everyone the convention hall celebrated, and the delegates danced and cheered for the nominee.
Normally, the presidential nominee does not appear at the convention until after the acceptance speech. Obama surprised delegates by appearing on stage at the end of the day’s events.
Obama is scheduled to accept the Democratic nomination on August 28 at Invesco Field football stadium. A crowd of about 75,000 is expected.
Joe Biden Endorsed as Vice Presidential Nominee
Soon after, delegates endorsed Senator Joe Biden as their vice presidential nominee on a voice vote.
Biden accepted and said, “The choice in this election is clear.”
Then, talking up Obama, and against McCain, Biden said, “These times require more than a good soldier; they require a wise leader, a leader who can deliver change, the change everybody knows we need. Barack Obama will deliver that change.”
Speaking of Obama’s platform, Biden said Obama would revitalize the American dream by
- cutting taxes
- increasing sources of alternative energy
- making college more affordable
- reducing health care costs
- achieving equal pay for women
Biden also took shots at their Republican opponents. He said McCain’s policy goals were like Bush’s, and McCain would be “more of the same.” On national security, Biden said Obama “correctly assessed the political and security situations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” but McCain’s analysis “was wrong.”
The Delaware senator was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. He becomes the first person from his state to appear on a major party ticket. *
Editor’s Note: * from a State Department release by Michelle Austein.