Following 17 months of a hard-fought contest that may go down in the history books as one of the longest and most competitive presidential primary battles between two truly formidable politicians, Sen. Barack Obama became the headline of an even more momentous chapter in the nation’s history by becoming its first African American nominee for the U.S. presidency. His win came down to the wire, but he has given new meaning to the idea that in America anything is possible.
In the final two primaries that took place Tuesday night in Montana and South Dakota, Obama won Montana by a margin of 57 to 40. And in a surprise victory, Sen. Hillary Clinton won South Dakota by 55 to 45.
Obama won at least 13 delegates in South Dakota and Montana, while Clinton won at least eight. There were still two delegates still to be allocated in South Dakota and eight in Montana, according to the Associated Press. Overall, Obama has 2,144 delegates, including endorsements from party and elected officials known as superdelegates. Clinton has 1,919.5, according to the AP tally.
Obama for weeks had been presumed to be the Democratic nominee, but up until Tuesday’s primaries, he still had one major hurdle to conquer– gaining the endorsements of enough pledged and unpledged, or super, delegates — that would bring him to the magic number of 2118, which seemingly changed from month to month, depending on who was making the calculation. Throughout the day, his campaign Web site maintained a delegate countdown.
Obama chose to celebrate his win in St. Paul, MN., the city where the Republican Party will hold its national convention this summer. “It’s clear he wants to signal his determination to take the fight to [the Republican nominee] Sen. John McCain, not simply to defend traditional Democratic states and areas, but to compete with McCain across the country,” explains William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Minnesota in recent elections has also been a very closely contested state. I think it’s a good tactical move on Obama’s part and sends a signal to the upper Midwest that it really matters.”
But for this one night, he chose to be more like the diplomat he hopes to present to the world’s stage. “At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years to come,” said Obama.
“That is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further on this journey than anyone else. Sen. Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she’s a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she’s