Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Barack Obama Becomes First African-American Presidential Nominee; Senator Clinton Remains in Democratic Presidential Race
Aired June 3, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to break away from Senator McCain's speech in Louisiana right now because CNN has a major, major projection to make within a few seconds. Stand by for this.
CNN can now project that Senator Barack Obama has enough delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator Barack Obama goes over the threshold -- goes over 2,118 delegates. He will be the Democratic presidential nominee, based on our projected -- projections of the delegate count right now.
And let me tell you why we can make that projection right now. It's because the polls in South Dakota have closed. There are 15 pledged delegates at stake in South Dakota. And even though we cannot project a winner right now in the South Dakota Democratic presidential primary, we do know he will get at least four of those delegates and probably several more of those pledged delegates. And that will bring him over the top.
Because of the proportionate way that the Democrats divide up delegates, Senator Barack Obama, at this moment, can now be projected as the Democratic -- the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
This is an historic moment right here in the United States. Barack Obama securing the Democratic presidential nomination.
Let's walk -- actually, let's go over to Charlotte, North Carolina right now and take a look at the excitement that's going on right now. There are going to be a lot of Barack Obama supporters across the country that are going to be very excited, because this is a moment he's worked so hard to achieve. It goes back a year-and-a- half or so, since he declared his intention to run for president of the United States.
So let's listen into the excitement in Charlotte, North Carolina right now.
It's Jillian's restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina. It's only one site where I assume there is a lot of excitement going on right now. Just take a look.
A CNN projection -- Barack Obama earns enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
Let's go over to Anderson Cooper. He's got the best political team on television. You know, it is an exciting moment. This is the first time in our history, Anderson, that an African-American has secured the presidential nomination of a major party.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Also remarkable when you consider it was about a year ago that we had the first CNN debate. It's hard to believe that it was a full year ago, but what a journey it has been.
Donna Brazile, your thoughts?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is a great journey, not just for Senator Obama. And I want to congratulate him. He got over the top. And, clearly, there are still 31 pledged delegates available tonight in Montana and South Dakota.
It is a historic moment for the country, though. This is a proud moment for a country that just 47 years ago enacted the Voting Rights Act -- 42 years ago enacted the Voting Rights Act. This is a moment that clearly people will cherish for the rest of our lives. But Senator Obama tomorrow will start off his day knowing that he will have to not only unify the Democratic Party, but begin to prepare to reach out to voters to win the general election.
COOPER: A year ago, David Gergen, did anyone really take Barack Obama seriously, that first night, that first debate?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Maybe a small handful. I mean he's a remarkable candidate and this is a remarkable moment. And one thinks of a year ago, he was 30 points behind. He was running against a woman who represented almost a dynasty in American politics, whose husband was very popularly remembered within the Democratic Party. And he was given almost no chance.
And from that, he not only raised a phenomenal amount of money, but I think more importantly, created a movement behind him. It wasn't an -- he's the first candidate we've ever seen, I think, who had an organization that brought together the Internet and community organizing and between that sort of created this movement behind him, which has helped to lift him. And now to become the first African- American to win the nomination, you have to say whatever else happens from here on out, he has changed the course of American history. He has now opened the door to other people -- other young African- Americans and people of other ethnicities who can say if he can do it, I can do it. And that's an historic moment.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Watching him develop over the campaign you really got a sense of how his message developed. And he talked about change, but he didn't really define change initially. And then he started to talk about and address people's fears -- the fear of rejection, the fear of being too optimistic, the fear that perhaps they get their hopes up high and then they're dashed. And he talked about being able to overcome that.
And I think when he started to tweak his message and change his message to if you vote for me, if you support me, you will become a better person, this country will become a better place, that better things can happen if you're a part of this movement, I think that's when people really started to respond.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What's interesting about the Democratic Party is that they don't always nominate someone whose turn it is. The Republican Party tends to nominate someone in the establishment whose turn it is. It was, in a way, John McCain's turn, although he's had a -- he's had a rough time of it.
It was not Barack Obama's turn. It was Hillary Clinton's turn. She was going to run on Bill Clinton's legacy. She was the anointed candidate. And the voters decided, you know what, it was somebody else's turn and decided to make a generational shift.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I think the generational fact is a big deal here.
TOOBIN: You know, we've spent a lot of time talking to politicians about, well, what did you do in Vietnam -- Dan Quayle, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton -- what did you do during Vietnam?
Barack Obama was a kid during Vietnam. He is not a baby boomer. He is after the baby boomers. And a lot of those issues have fallen by the wayside with his dominance of the Democratic Party.
COOPER: Roland Martin, you're from Chicago. You followed Barack Obama long before, probably, the national media knew of him.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what's amazing is that he remained calm, cool and calculated. You oftentimes talk to folks who campaign, whether he talked about debate performances, talked about black voters not supporting him, down 30 or 40 points. All he kept saying is once they get to know me, then they'll have a better understanding of who I am.
He kept saying that in states where people said they had no clue who he was. That was the thing he kept driving home, even to his campaign staff. That was amazing.
You know, earlier, Anderson, our fronts on the front row talked about this whole historical nature. And I've sort of been holding this for three months. And that is when the Democrats hold their convention on August 28, that's when Senator Barack Obama is going to accept the nomination for president. Forty-five years ago on that actual date, a young man stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave a speech that Soledad O'Brien now knows as "Normalcy No More," but we know as the "I Have A Dream" speech.
On that very day, August 28, 1963, I think we can say now that America, normalcy is no more. An African-American man nominated for the Democratic Party. That tells us America has, indeed, changed.
COOPER: And, Jamal, you're a supporter of Barack Obama. Obviously, this is something you have hoped for for a long time.
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Yes. This is a very big deal. But it's a big deal for America. This is a uniquely American story. You know, I've traveled all over the world. And in no other place than the United States can someone whose father came here from another country, who married a woman from the United States, who started out with humble beginnings, who worked his way to get into the best schools the country had to offer, who became the president of Harvard Law -- the editor of "The Harvard Law Review" and then went back to give back to his community.
This is a story -- and then becomes a state senator -- a senator and United States president. This is a story like Bill Clinton's story, like Ronald Reagan's story, like Harry Truman's story. This is a story about Americans who started off with humble beginnings and make it all the way to the nominee, to be one of the two people who could become president of the United States. I think it's a phenomenal moment for the country.
COOPER: We are just a few minutes away from an anticipated speech by Hillary Clinton. We, of course, are going to bring that to you live. You can also follow along at CNNPolitics.com, John McCain's speech, and all the latest developments -- Wolf, let's go back to you in New York.
BLITZER: All right, Anderson.
Thanks very much.
A historic night here in the United States. Barack Obama effectively securing the Democratic presidential nomination. And as Anderson Cooper just said, we're going to be getting Hillary Clinton's reaction. Her speech coming up. We expect her to start speaking here in New York shortly. We'll go there live when she does.
Barack Obama earns enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination.
In South Dakota, the polls have now closed and about 11 percent of the precincts have actually reported so far. Hillary Clinton is ahead, with 56 percent to Barack Obama's 44 percent. We cannot yet project a winner in this race because we don't have enough information, based on our exit polls or the actual numbers. We're going to wait a little bit and see what happens.
But remember, Barack Obama effectively has already secured -- clinched the nomination. So whatever happens in South Dakota tonight and an hour -- or less than an hour from now in Montana -- really won't make a whole lot of difference because the bottom line is Barack Obama is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee.
Once again, Hillary Clinton getting ready to speak.
Later, Barack Obama will be speaking in St. Paul, Minnesota. We'll go there live once he starts speaking. History unfolding in the United States.
We'll continue the coverage of this historic moment right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: For the first time in American history, an African- American has secured the nomination -- the presidential nomination of a major party. That would be Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. We have now projected he has enough delegates to be the party's Democratic presidential nominee.
We projected -- at least right now -- he has 2,119. The number he needed to cross was 2,118. As a result of the polls closing in South Dakota, the way they divide up delegates there and in other states, he's going to get at least five -- and we project probably more. And that has brought him over the top. And he is now, based on our projection, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Let's look at South Dakota, though, first right now. About 14 percent of the precincts have closed. We're not in a position yet to project a winner in South Dakota. But Hillary Clinton is maintaining her lead, 55 percent to 45 percent. She has about 8,349 votes to 6,704 for Barack Obama. We're going to count more votes before we can project a winner there.
Look at this map of the United States. You can see the light blue. Those are the states that Hillary Clinton carried. The dark blue, those are the states that Barack Obama carried. You see two yellow states, Montana and South Dakota. Those are the final two primaries in the 61 contests -- 50 states, 11 other contests and territories of the United States that have occurred so far. We're waiting for the results from these two yellow states, South Dakota and Montana, and that will be it.
Texas, they divided up the wins. She won the primary there, he won the caucus. That's why you see that different color -- light blue and dark blue -- for Texas.
But look at this, up in the Northeast, she did really well in her home state of New York and Pennsylvania, in Ohio and Indiana and Michigan, in West Virginia, Kentucky. You see she did really well there.
In the South -- he did very well in the South, with the exception of Florida. And then you go to the Midwest -- all of those states in the Midwest -- and we're waiting to see what happens in those two yellow states of Montana and South Dakota. We'll see who wins tonight in those two states. But Barack Obama has done very well there. She did better, obviously, in California and out in the West, although he managed to carry both Oregon and Washington State up in the Pacific Northwest.
So you see the country pretty much divided geographically and in terms of the popular vote and the pledged and super-delegates this country, based on all these Democratic contests, pretty evenly split. But Barack Obama does manage to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.
David Axelrod, who has been a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, he's stand by in St. Paul, where Barack Obama is getting ready to address a huge crowd there. We expect about 18,000 or 20,000 people there. And it's not unusual for him to attract a big crowd like that. So, David, first of all congratulations.
CNN has projected that your candidate has secured the Democratic presidential nomination.
How does that feel?
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Well, it feels great, Wolf. I mean nobody -- no candidate, no campaign has ever gone this deep into a primary season -- 54 contests. And it's been very hard- fought. Obviously, Senator Clinton is a really formidable opponent. And they've got a great political history, a great organization. So, you know, this is a hugely gratifying evening for us.
BLITZER: So will Senator Obama formally declare victory tonight?
AXELROD: We believe that when he steps on that stage tonight, Wolf, he'll be the putative nominee -- the presumptive nominee of the party. He'll have the delegates that he needs to claim victory. So that will be a big moment.
BLITZER: We've been making a major point of the historic nature of this achievement, the fact that he is now the first African- American in American history to secure the nomination of a major political party. I assume that means a great deal to you and everyone else in the Obama campaign.
AXELROD: Well, Wolf, it should mean a great deal to the country. I think we -- you know, the fact that an African-American candidate could get nominated, the fact that a woman did so well, I think, are both enormously important. It shows the progress that we've made. Ultimately, we are all Americans. And we share common interests and concerns and a love for this country. And I think people express that with their votes. And I think it's a great milestone, not just for Barack Obama or this campaign, but it's a great milestone for this country.
BLITZER: I know you've got to run, but how does he unify the Democratic Party right now?
AXELROD: Well, Wolf, I think the Democratic Party will be unified. And I think we are unified in a conviction that we need to change the direction of policies out of Washington, that we need to challenge the politics that have broken down there and begin to address the problems that people are feeling every day in their lives at the gas pumps, grocery stores, when they try and pay their health care bills, on the job. And change our foreign policy and get away from a failed policy in Iraq and do things that will make our country genuinely safer.
And I think most Americans are -- and certainly most Democrats agree that that's necessary. And we're all going to be together in the fall. Remember, we've added millions and millions of new voters, many of them who were Independents or disaffected Republicans, all committed to the notion that we need to change, that four more years of these Bush policies are not acceptable. And the
That's really what John McCain is offering.
BLITZER: All right, we'll be listening to Senator Obama's speech later tonight in St. Paul.
David Axelrod, congratulations. Once again, thanks very much for joining us.
And the news, just to recap, for those of you who might just be tuning in, CNN projects Barack Obama has now enough delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.
An historic night here at the CNN Election Center and in the country -- Anderson Cooper.
BLITZER: You heard the excitement there in that crowd. And it's only just beginning over there.
COOPER: It's remarkable when you see that crowd behind him gathered to witness this night. You compare that to the John McCain crowd. Those are the kind of comparisons, no doubt, we're going to be seeing a lot over the next couple of months.
But, again, Jeff Toobin brought it up, the notion of a generational shift and the importance of the different generations in this victory for Barack Obama tonight. Were it not for this new generation of young people, which he brought into the process, he would not be at the place he is tonight.
TOOBIN: Oh, well, but I'm sorry...
BORGER: Speaking as a young person.
TOOBIN: I'm sorry.
What about that McCain speech?
TOOBIN: That was awful.
BORGER: Oh my god.
TOOBIN: That was pathetic.
COOPER: Hey, no (INAUDIBLE) here.
TOOBIN: I mean that was...
TOOBIN: I mean that was -- he looked awful. He was cata -- I mean that audience that was this handful of people. You've got 20,000 people in Minnesota and like a couple hundred in Louisiana, where he's struggling to read the teleprompter. I mean I thought that was one of the worst speeches that I've seen him give?
GERGEN: Whoa. Well...
COOPER: David Gergen, (INAUDIBLE)?
GERGEN: Well, I guess we're not going to have long to savor this historic moment...
GERGEN: We're getting right into it.
TOOBIN: That's why we're here, man.
GERGEN: OK. Well, up to a point, yes. I didn't...
BORGER: You didn't think it was (INAUDIBLE).
GERGEN: I -- listen, I thought he did some very clever things tonight, John McCain did. I thought he was very smart about reaching out to Hillary Clinton and reaching out and saying he was a friend. He did that well. You know, he's -- Barack Obama has had that slogan up behind him -- "a change you can believe in".
Now here comes John McCain. He's got "a leader you can believe in". And there's no question that many people look at John McCain and see a leader. Some don't, but many do...
GERGEN: But wait a second. And I thought he started to make the argument that he was the candidate -- real candidate of change. He's not arguing about what Hillary Clinton did and went down over. She argued experience. He's not saying that. He's saying there is right change and wrong change, I represent right change. And he's -- it's a more clever argument than what she put up.
I agree in the sense, you know, I thought the backdrop -- the green backdrop was pretty awful. But the rest of it, I thought, as a speech, was pretty interesting.
BORGER: Well, I think it's...
COOPER: We are waiting for Hillary Clinton to speak. We have to take a short break right before we do, because we want to, of course, bring her comments to you live.
We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back. Stay tuned.
BLITZER: CNN can now project that Hillary Clinton will win the South Dakota presidential primary. We can project that based on the actual votes that have already been counted, as well as our exit polls. Right now, 19 percent of the precincts in South Dakota have reported, Hillary Clinton with 57 percent to Barack Obama's 43 percent.
If we zoom in on the actual numbers that have been counted so far, she has 11,021 to Barack Obama's 8,338.
Hillary Clinton the winner of the South Dakota Democratic presidential primary -- but too little, too late. Barack Obama the winner of the Democratic presidential nomination. And here's why. He went into these final two contests with a lot more of those pledged and super-delegates. He only needed four -- four more delegates to win the nomination tonight. Just before the polls closed in South Dakota -- South Dakota has 15. South Dakota has 15 delegates -- pledged delegates at stake.
Because of the way the Democratic Party divides up delegates in the state, he's going to get at least four or five -- maybe more. And that has brought him over the 2,118. And, as a result, he is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee.
Actually, here's our delegate estimate right now. We project that -- well, I guess there -- there are some super-delegates. That's why he has 11 right now and she has eight. But she has won eight of those pledged delegates tonight. He's won five. And those five that he won are enough to bring him over the 2,118 needed.
That number, by the way, went up over the weekend, after the Democratic National Committee decided that the Michigan and Florida primaries would be counted, albeit that only half of their delegates -- that each of their delegates would be seated, but they would only have half a vote each.
So once again, Barack Obama the winner of the Democratic presidential nomination. Hillary Clinton, ironically, does win South Dakota. We'll see what happens in Montana. The polls will be closing there at the top of the hour.
By the way, these are pictures of Hillary Clinton's rally at Baruch College here in New York City, where she's getting ready to speak to her supporters.
And, Anderson, we expect that to begin fairly soon.
COOPER: Yes. Of course, we're going to bring that to our viewers live.
Jeff Toobin was very unhappy with John McCain's speech earlier.
I want to bring in Alan Castellanos, a Republican strategist. He's a supporter of John McCain.
Your take on his speech?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, last I checked, this was not a speech making contest, thank God...
CASTELLANOS: ...because Barack Obama is the secretariat of speech making. And if that's what this election is going to be about, it's going to be tough for Republicans.
However, I think you saw John McCain make the point tonight -- I think he understands that this election, first, since it's about change, voters are going to look at the other party first. They're going to look at Barack Obama first and that's what this election is going to be about. And he went out of his way tonight to put the spotlight on Barack Obama and said make the case against him.
Barack Obama has not been willing to make the tough calls, to challenge his party and to risk criticism from his supporters to bring real change to Washington. That's going to be the litmus test for Barack Obama.
COOPER: As a supporter, though, of John McCain, do you worry that when compared to Barack Obama, just in public events -- I mean having him stand in front of this green backdrop, no people behind him, a relatively small crowd, occasionally people kind of hooting and hollering. It's hard to stack that up against Barack Obama.
Does he need help in sort of presenting a case (INAUDIBLE)?
CASTELLANOS: We're just trying to lower expectations right now...
CASTELLANOS: ...and keep him where we want him. It could have been a little more vibrant, let's face facts, tonight.
COOPER: A little more?
CASTELLANOS: But there's not much you're going to do to compete with 20,000 people in an arena. Barack Obama does not have a campaign...
COOPER: Could John McCain...
CASTELLANOS: ...he has a cause.
COOPER: Could John McCain fill an arena?
COOPER: Could John McCain fill an arena?
CASTELLANOS: Right now, it's going to be tough for a lot of Republicans to fill an arena. Look, this election is really not about Republicans -- so far -- and not about John McCain. It is about Barack Obama and whether he is an acceptable alternative -- whether he's an acceptable change. That's the first test in this election.
CASTELLANOS: And people are hungry for that and are looking for it.
COOPER: ... George Bush.
CASTELLANOS: No. This is not about George Bush's third term. This is about...
CASTELLANOS: This is about...
COOPER: That was -- I mean John McCain was trying to do that tonight...
COOPER: John McCain was very much trying to spell out, look, I'm very different than George Bush and it's disingenuous of Barack Obama to repeatedly -- to link us together.
Did he sell that message well?
COOPER: Leslie, do you...
CASTELLANOS: He could have been more effective in selling it.
COOPER: Did he sell it?
LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. No, I think the Democrats are going to try to say it's a George Bush -- it's a third term of George Bush. But I would say it's the second term of Jimmy Carter, 1976 all over again. You're going to see the foreign affairs gaffes.
I mean -- and, also, as much as race has been talked about, and very much in this primary, two things to think about. It is -- Gloria -- and Gloria mentioned it earlier, this is going to be more generational change. There's exactly 25 years between them. And I think that's going to be the bigger mantra. And that actually can have an affect on some of these...
COOPER: But does that work in John McCain's favor...
SANCHEZ: It is the...
COOPER: ...if this is about generational change?
SANCHEZ: It is the nature of the campaign. There is truly a movement with the Barack Obama folks. I've been doing a lot of work with these millenials, you know, these younger voters. They like the authenticity. They're mobilized and there's a lot of surveys out right now to see if this can be sustained through November, like, you know, back in 1972, or is it just something that's -- that's a flash in the pan?
That is, I believe, what the fight is going to be.
CASTELLANOS: By the way...
CASTELLANOS: ...one of the largest crowds in American history, in politics, up to now, have been for George McGovern and Barry Goldwater. Neither one of them was very successful. One thing is having a crowd, the other thing is translating that into a vote.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, CLINTON SUPPORTER: I want to give credit to the McCain people. They put a room together where John McCain was the youngest person in the room.
CARVILLE: That was (INAUDIBLE).
CARVILLE: Now, listen, I love Louisiana. I'm moving there, man.
CARVILLE: And, by the way, just for the record, Kenner, Louisiana, where the speech was given, is the hometown of one Donna Brazile. And that Pontchartrain arena -- I mean that thing must hold -- it holds quite a few.It's a pretty good sized place.
MARTIN: He goes to Kenner, Louisiana. He talks about how the government failed when it came to New Orleans. But he allows the Democrats to say, OK, Senator McCain, where were you on helping the Gulf coast. So, it was interesting that he would give a speech there. It's not like he has a serious track record when it comes to that region. SIMMONS: Anderson, here's one thing that's very curious for the Republicans to watch out for. I'll give them a little piece of advice. Very early on last year, Barack Obama decided to announce for his candidacy for president. Within days, Hillary Clinton came out and announced hers by video. Barack Obama came up with "Change You Can Believe In. Hillary Clinton changed her slogan to try to get "Change You Can Believe In."
John McCain right now is letting Obama dictate the phrase of this campaign. That entire speech was a reaction to Barack Obama. I think he has to be very careful they don't let that keep going throughout the rest of this year.
BORGER: I think the argument McCain was making that really could affect some people, which is it's not just change. It's risk versus change. It's we live in a dangerous world. And I believe in change and he believes in change. But who is the fellow do you think that's going to make you safer? I am not as risky, he's telling voters, as Barack Obama.
He said, Americans ought to be concerned about someone who is willing to talk to tyrants, for example. You need to be concerned about him. You shouldn't trust him.
COOPER: I just want to remind our viewers, we're expecting Hillary Clinton to speak any minute. We'll keep showing you that live shot of the crowd. Terry McAuliffe is firing up the crowd. She's just been introduced, entering the room. David Gergen, as you see her come in with her husband, the former president, your thoughts?
GERGEN: We'll come back to this issue. You want to stay with McCain?
COOPER: No, let's table that.
GERGEN: Exactly. I think we're all waiting to see what she's going to say tonight. There's a lot of drama awaiting this because she is going to acknowledge his victory, but how much farther is she going to be? She'll be gracious toward him but is she going to withhold her endorsement tonight? Is she looking for something more from him? Is she going to enter into some sort of negotiation for him?
There is pressure in this hall tonight, where she is in New York, to have her on the ticket as vice president. Today, apparently, in a phone call with the New York congressional delegation, she said if he offered it to her, according to two sources on the phone call, that she would take it. That's going to stir a lot of conversation tonight and in the days ahead about the vice presidency. So there is a lot hanging on this speech tonight.
COOPER: James Carville, you've watched her give a lot of speeches. Your thoughts on what she is or should say tonight.
CARVILLE: Obviously, she's disappointed. She's worked her heart out. This is something she wanted. She's had, as David Gergen put out, an incredible second half. My heart goes out for her. I'm not exactly delighted by the facts. But she's a strong woman and she'll do fine.
COOPER: Let's listen in.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you all so much. Thank you, and thanks so much to South Dakota. You had the last word in this primary season, and it was worth the wait.
CLINTON: I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run.
Senator Obama has inspired so many Americans to care about politics and empowered so many more to get involved. And our party and our democracy is stronger and more vibrant as a result. So we are grateful.
CLINTON: And it has been an honor to contest these primaries with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend. And, tonight, I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize him and his supporters for all they have accomplished.
CLINTON: Now, 16 months ago, you and I began a journey to make history and to remake America. And from the hills of New Hampshire to the hollows of West Virginia and Kentucky, from the fields of California to the factories of Ohio, from the Alleghenies to the Ozarks to the Everglades, to right here in the great state of New York, we --
CLINTON: We saw millions of Americans registering to vote for the first time, raising money for the first time, knocking on doors, making calls, talking to their friends and neighbors, mothers and fathers lifting their little girls and their little boys onto their shoulders and whispering, "See, you can be anything you want to be."
AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
CLINTON: And I think, too, of all those --
AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
CLINTON: -- all those wonderful women in their 90s who came out to see me, because they were born before women could vote, and they wanted to be part of making history, and the people who drove for miles, who waved their handmade signs, who went to all the events that we held, who came to HillaryClinton.com and showed the tangible support that they felt in their hearts.
And I am just enormously grateful, because, in the millions of quiet moments, in thousands of places, you asked yourself a simple question: Who will be the strongest candidate and the strongest --
CLINTON: Who will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as commander-in-chief and lead our country to better tomorrows?
People in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the territories, all had a chance to make your voices heard. And on election day after election day, you came out in record numbers to cast your ballots. Nearly 18 million of you cast your votes --
CLINTON: -- for our campaign, carrying the popular vote with more votes than any primary candidate in history.
CLINTON: Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week that this race was over, you kept on voting. You're the nurse on the second shift, the worker on the line, the waitress on her feet, the small business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the miner, the trucker, the soldier, the veteran, the student, the hard-working men and women who don't always make the headlines, but have always written America's story.
You have voted because you wanted to take back the White House. And because of you --
CLINTON: -- we won, together, the swing states necessary to get to 270 electoral votes.
CLINTON: And you know --
AUDIENCE: Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will!
CLINTON: In all of the states, you voted because you wanted a leader who will stand up for the deepest values of our party, a party that believes everyone should have a fair shot at the American dream, a party that cherishes every child, values every family, and counts every single vote.
CLINTON: I often felt that each of your votes was a prayer for our nation, a declaration of your dreams for your children, a reflection of your desire to chart a new course in this new century. And, in the end, while this primary was long, I am so proud we stayed the course together.
CLINTON: Because we stood our ground, it meant that every single United States citizen had a chance to make his or her voice heard. A record 35 million people voted in this primary from every state, red, blue, purple, people of every age, faith, color, and walk of life. And we have brought so many people into the Democratic Party and created enthusiasm among those we seek to serve.
And I am committed to uniting our party so we move forward stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White House this November.
CLINTON: You know, for the past seven years, so many people in this country have felt invisible, like your president didn't even really see you. I have seen the shuttered factories, the jobs shipped overseas, the families struggling to afford gas and groceries.
But I've also seen unions re-training workers to build energy- efficient buildings, innovators designing cars that run on fuel cells and biofuels and electricity, cars that get more miles per gallon than ever before, cars that will cut the cost of driving, reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and fight global warming.
CLINTON: I have met too many people without health care, just a diagnosis away from financial ruin. But I've also seen the scientists and researchers solving the medical mysteries and finding the treatments and cures that are transforming lives.
I've seen the struggling schools with the crumbling classrooms and the unfair burdens imposed by No Child Left Behind. But I have also met dedicated and caring teachers who use their own savings to buy supplies and students passionately engaged in the issues of our time, from ending the genocide in Darfur to once again making the environment a central issue of our day.
CLINTON: None of you, none of you is invisible to me. You never have been.
CLINTON: I see you, and I know how hard-working you are. I've been fighting for you my whole adult life, and I will keep standing for you and working for you every single day.
Because in your courage and character, your energy and ingenuity, your compassion and faith, I see the promise of America every day. The challenges we face are great, but our determination is greater.
You know, I understand that a lot of people are asking, "What does Hillary want? What does she want?"
Well, I want what I have always fought for in this whole campaign. I want to end the war in Iraq.
CLINTON: I want to turn this economy around. I want health care for every American. I want every child to live up to his or her God- given potential. And I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard, and no longer to be invisible.
CLINTON: You see, I have an old-fashioned notion, one that's been the basis of my candidacy and my life's work, that public service is about helping people solve their problems and live their own dreams. This nation has given me every opportunity, and that's what I want for every single American.
CLINTON: That's why I want universal health care. It is wrong that Americans pay 50 percent more for health care than the people of any other wealthy nation, with costs doubling this decade, and nearly 50 million people without any health insurance at all.
It is wrong for parents to have to choose between care for themselves or their children, to be stuck in dead-end jobs just to keep their insurance, or to give up working altogether so their kids will qualify for Medicaid.
I've been working on this issue not just for the past 16 months, but for 16 years. And it is a fight --
CLINTON: It is a fight I will continue until every single American has health insurance, no exceptions and no excuses.
I want an economy that works for all families. That's why I've been fighting to create millions of new jobs in clean energy and rebuilding our infrastructure, jobs to come to all of our states, and urban and rural areas, and suburban communities and small towns.
And that's why I sounded the alarm on the home mortgage crisis well over a year ago because these are the issues that will determine whether we will once again grow together as a nation or continue to grow apart.
And I want to restore America's leadership in the world. I want us to be led once again by the power of our values, to have a foreign policy that is both strong and smart, to join with our allies and confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to global terrorism and global warming.
These are the issues that brought me into this race. They are the lifeblood of my campaign. And they have been and will continue to be the causes of my life. And your spirit has inspired me every day in this race. While I traveled our country, talking about how I wanted to help you, time and again you reached out to help me, to grab my hand or grip my arm, to look into my eyes and tell me, "Don't quit; keep fighting; stay in this race."
CLINTON: Now, there were days --
CLINTON: -- when I had the strength -- there were the days when I had the strength enough to fight for all of us. And on the days that I didn't, I leaned on you, the soldier on his third tour of duty in Iraq who told his wife, an Iraqi veteran herself, to take his spending money and donate it to our campaign instead --
CLINTON: -- the 11-year-old boy in Kentucky, who sold his bike and video games to raise money for our campaign, the woman who came to a rally hours early, waited and waited to give me a rosary, and all those who whispered to me, simply to say, "I am praying for you."
So many people said this race was over five months ago in Iowa, but we had faith in each other. And you brought me back in New Hampshire, and on Super Tuesday, and in Ohio, and in Pennsylvania, and Texas, and Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and South Dakota.
CLINTON: I will carry your stories and your dreams with me every day for the rest of my life.
Now, the question is: Where do we go from here? And given how far we've come and where we need to go as a party, it's a question I don't take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.
CLINTON: But this has always been your campaign. So, to the 18 million people who voted for me, and to our many other supporters out there of all ages, I want to hear from you. I hope you'll go to my Web site at HillaryClinton.com and share your thoughts with me and help in any way that you can.
And in the coming days, I'll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way. And I want to conclude tonight by saying, thank you. Thank you to the people across America for welcoming me and my family into your homes and your hearts.
Thanks to all of you in every corner of this country who cast your votes for our campaign. I am honored and humbled by your support and your trust.
Thanks to my staff and volunteers for all those long hours and late nights.
CLINTON: And I thank your families and your loved ones, as well, because your sacrifice was theirs.
And I especially want to thank all of the leadership of my campaign, our chairman, Terry McAuliffe, and everyone who worked so hard.
CLINTON: And, of course, my family, for their incredible love, support, and work, Bill and Chelsea --
CLINTON: -- Hugh and Maria, Tony and Megan, Zach and Fiona, and my mother, who turns 89 tomorrow.
CLINTON: And, finally, I want to thank all of the people who had the courage to share your stories with me out on the campaign trail.
Tonight, I am thinking of a woman I met just yesterday in Rapid City, South Dakota. We were outside Tally's Restaurant. There was a crowd there as I was walking into the restaurant, and she was standing right up against the barrier.
She grabbed my hand, and she said, "What are you going to do to make sure I have health care?" And as she was talking, she began to cry. She told me she works three jobs; she has suffered from seizures since childhood; she hasn't been able to afford insurance ever since she left her parents' home.
It is shameful that anyone in this country could tell that story to me.
CLINTON: And whatever path I travel next, I promise I will keep faith with her and with everyone I met across this great and good country. You know, tonight, we stand just a few miles from the Statue of Liberty and from the site where the Twin Towers fell and where America rose again. Lady Liberty's presence and the towers' absence are a constant reminder that here in America we are resilient, we are courageous, we embrace all of our people, and that, when we face our challenges together, there is no barrier we can't overcome, no dream we can't realize, nothing we can't do if we just start acting like Americans again.
Thank you all very much. God bless you, and God bless America.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton showing no signs of conceding this Democratic presidential nomination. She delivered a speech tonight in which she says she wants to spend some time now deciding where to go from here. No decisions tonight, she says. She will eventually do what's in the best interest of her party, she says, and the country. But no concession tonight, simply suggesting she still is the most electable of the Democrats, pointing out that she secured some 18 million votes in all of these contests, which are wrapping up tonight.
We have projected she will win in South Dakota tonight. Right now, she's ahead with almost 40 percent of the precincts reporting, with 56 percent to Barack Obama's 44 percent. Montana, the polls close in a few minutes, less than five minutes there. We'll see what the results are there.
But this is a night that Hillary Clinton is saying she's going forward, deciding what to do next. She is not yet ready to concede defeat, even though -- even though we have projected that Barack Obama now has enough delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.
We've heard John McCain. We've heard Hillary Clinton. Now we're standing by. We'll go to St. Paul, Minnesota, where Barack Obama is getting ready to speak to a huge rally out there. Much more of our coverage coming up from the CNN Election Center. Remember, go to CNN.politics.com to get a lot more information on the vote tally as they are coming in.
Hillary Clinton continuing her campaign, at least for now.
BLITZER: Barack Obama gets enough delegates to become the Democratic presidential nominee, although you wouldn't know that from Hillary Clinton's speech, which she just delivered here in New York City. She says this is a time for her to reflect and make some decisions soon in the best interest of her party and in the best interest of the nation.
She showed no signs tonight she's ready to concede, despite our projection, the projection of other news organizations as well, that Barack Obama has gone over the number necessary to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.
An historic night, this the first time an African-American has become the party's presidential nominee.
CNN can now also project that Barack Obama will win the Montana Democratic presidential contest.