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Obama Clinches Nomination; Clinton Plots Next Step

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination will go down in the history books. Barack Obama added another chapter Tuesday by securing enough delegates to claim the party's presidential nomination. Still, Hillary Clinton hasn't conceded defeat.

Host Renee Montagne talks with NPR's Don Gonyea, who has been covering Obama, and NPR's David Greene, who has followed Clinton.

Gonyea recounts the scene at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., where Obama gave a speech Tuesday night. The event had a different feel from Obama's usual big campaign events, he says. "It had that extra bit of energy, we had that extra dose of history mixed in — the first ever African-American claiming such a prize. He clearly took a moment to reflect."

Obama's thank-you to his grandmother in Hawaii, who helped raise him, was an emotional moment for the senator and for the crowd, Gonyea says.

Meantime, a thousand miles away at Baruch College in New York City, Greene says, there was a real sense of closure and of reality setting in among Clinton supporters. "People were just trying to find something to smile and cheer about," he says.

But is Clinton out of the race or not?

"She's not as of now," Greene says. "And there was no mention last night of a magic number, not even a recognition that Barack Obama had crossed some sort of threshold, and it gave the night this feeling of almost an alternate universe."

While headlines were coming out saying Obama is ready to go up against McCain in a general election, Clinton's campaign was putting out new schedules, "going through all the motions that you would expect from a campaign that's just going into another day." Greene says he's hearing that Clinton is going to reach out to some of the superdelegates and try to keep making her case.

"In the coming days," Clinton said in her speech Tuesday night, "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."

She didn't address the vice presidency in that speech, but she has said she'd be open to an Obama-Clinton ticket if it would help unite the party — "but that's assuming that Obama would even make such an offer," Greene says.

The Obama camp was talking about that, too, Gonyea says. The campaign said there had been no talks with Clinton, and "there's no long list, there's not a short list at this point, as to who Sen. Obama will consider" for the vice presidency.

Obama did go after presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in his speech Tuesday night, showing that he's ready to put the primaries behind him and join the fall fight.

Reflecting on the past five months of primary contests, Gonyea says he was impressed by the huge crowds that Obama drew and Obama's March speech on race. As for Greene, after witnessing the passion of Clinton's supporters at campaign events, he says, "it's going to be hard for some people to say goodbye" if she isn't going to be on the fall ticket.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Morning Edition
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.