Sun, Jun 08, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Clinton ending campaign with call for party unity

AFP , WASHINGTON

Hillary Clinton was to formally end her historic quest to be the US’ first woman president yesterday, after a nominating campaign once seen as inevitable crumbled under Barack Obama’s onslaught.

Clinton’s ordeal in Washington’s National Building Museum was closely watched for the tenor of her endorsement of the presumptive Democratic nominee, after her first post-primary effort last Tuesday struck some as ungracious.

The former first lady’s rally was to be the latest attempt to unite the Democratic Party after a divisive campaign and followed a secret meeting with Obama on Thursday nigh, and speculation about her vice presidential prospects.

Clinton’s constituency of white, working class voters, women and Hispanics could play a crucial role in boosting Obama all the way to the White House, but is also seen by Republican presidential candidate John McCain as part of his own path to power.

The New York Senator’s campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said her mission now was to rally the party to defeat McCain in November’s general election and to close ranks behind Obama in his own historic White House bid.

“She will do anything, she has made that clear, she will do anything she can to help Barack Obama,” he said, as Clinton held a party at her home in an upscale Washington neighborhood to console laid-off campaign staffers.

Clinton’s speech at noon yesterday was to be the final act in a near 17-month odyssey, which has encompassed two winters, the snows of Iowa and the dry heat of Nevada, gritty towns of Pennsylvania and swank Hollywood fundraisers.

On Friday, an exuberant Obama offered a cheeky prediction he would be president in 2016, as he tried to lend his winning streak to his home city of Chicago’s Olympics bid.

Obama joked he could put his house up for rent, to make a financial killing if Chicago wins the Summer Games.

“I have to let you know in 2016, I’ll be wrapping up my second term as president,” Obama said in a surprise appearance at a rally celebrating Chicago’s selection as a finalist for the Olympics.

“So I can’t think of a better way than to be marching into Washington park ... as president of the United States and announcing to the world, let the Games begin!” he told a surprise outdoor rally downtown.

Obama will embark tomorrow on a two-week tour focusing on economic woes facing many Americans, apparently targeting blue-collar Democrats who often favored Clinton over him.

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