US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama makes a surprise visit to thank Illinois delegates in Denver, Colorado. [Agencies]
Barack Obama became the first black to be nominated by a major US party as its presidential candidate on Wednesday night.
Democrats formally named Obama as their presidential nominee, putting their hopes of ending eight years of Republican control of the White House in his hands.
The Democratic National Convention saw some real-life drama as former rival Hillary Clinton interrupted a state-by-state roll call vote to ask delegates to make Obama's selection unanimous "in the spirit of unity, with the goal of victory". They agreed, with a roar.
Hours later, her husband and former US president Bill Clinton added his backing.
He told delegates and a national television audience that Obama "is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world".
Obama, who was across town as the delegates he won in months of primaries sealed his victory, visited the convention to thank his supporters. His formal acceptance speech on Thursday night (Friday morning Beijing time) was expected to draw a crowd of 75,000 at an outdoor stadium.
Though the convention vote offered no surprises, its historical importance was undeniable. It capped the longest, closest US primary race in memory as Obama, a 47-year-old political newcomer, defeated Clinton, the former first lady whose victory once seemed all but assured. It also meant that Obama, the son of a black Kenyan father and a white American mother, is now one victory from becoming president of a nation where just more than four decades ago many blacks were denied the vote.
But Obama's prospects in the Nov 4 election are still uncertain.
He is in a tight race with Republican John McCain, a veteran senator and former prisoner of war in Vietnam, who has attacked him for his lack of experience.
Obama has had to fend off questions about his patriotism and rumors that he is a Muslim. And then, no one knows how many Americans would simply not vote for a black candidate.
The first-term Illinois senator also needs to unite a party fractured by the long and bitter primary campaign. That process received a boost on Tuesday with an enthusiastic speech by Hillary Clinton, who said Obama is "my candidate, and he must be our president".
Bill Clinton echoed his wife's words. Saying she had told the convention that she would do everything possible to get Obama elected, he roared: "That makes two of us."
He was greeted with a long, huge ovation and interrupted with applause as he lauded Obama.
"Everything I've learned in my eight years as president and the work I've done since, in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job," he said.
Obama decided to name Senator Joe Biden instead of Hillary Clinton as his vice-presidential running mate. Biden too received the nomination through acclamation. In his acceptance speech, he praised Obama as the leader the US needs during tough economic times. He said he learned the quality of Obama's character while campaigning against him for the presidential nomination. "I watched how Barack touched people, how he inspired them. I realized he had tapped into the oldest American belief of all: We don't have to accept a situation we cannot bear. We have the power to change it," he said.
(英语点津 Helen 编辑）
roll call: 点名
acceptance speech: 总统候选人所做的提名演讲