Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama appears set to claim his party's nomination this week, which would make him the first African American presidential candidate to be the nominee of a major U.S. political party. Senator Obama needs just 45 more delegates out of a total of 2,218 delegates required to clinch the Democratic nomination. But his opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton, continues to fight until the end, campaigning with her husband and daughter in South Dakota. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.
Senator Obama spoke Monday at a town hall meeting in Troy, Michigan, a key battleground state for the general election for the White House in November. Obama told his supporters that it has been a long, hard race for the Democratic nomination.
" I have been running for president for about 15 months now," said Barack Obama. "That is a long time. That means that there are babies that have been born and are now walking and talking since I announced that I was running for president."
Heading into the two last Democratic primaries Tuesday in South Dakota and Montana, Obama said he understands that the long nomination fight has left people wondering whether Clinton's supporters will back him in the general election against Republican Senator John McCain.
"Let me tell you something," he said. "First of all, Senator Clinton has run an outstanding race, she is an outstanding public servant, and she and I will be working together in November."
Obama did not elaborate on what he meant by "working together." There has been much speculation as to whether Obama might choose Clinton to be his vice presidential running mate, but both candidates have said it is premature to discuss the vice president's job.
Despite winning a landslide victory Sunday in the commonwealth territory of Puerto Rico, Clinton has come under increasing pressure from Democratic leaders to cede victory to Obama after the last primaries are over on Tuesday. Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor and a co-chairman of Clinton's campaign said after Tuesday's races Clinton "needs to acknowledge that Obama is going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him."
At her victory speech Sunday, Clinton seemed determined to keep up the fight. She pointed to her strong finish over the past month and said she is winning the popular vote. The popular vote point is debatable, depending on how the states of Florida and Michigan are counted, and because Clinton's calculation leaves out states that held caucuses instead of primaries.
Clinton plans a major rally in South Dakota Tuesday night, accompanied by her husband, former President Bill Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea. And, in a departure from her regular practice during this campaign, Clinton announced that she will be delivering her speech after Tuesday's primaries from her home base in New York.
Many analysts believe that enough superdelegates, Democratic party and elected officials who can vote as they please, will come out and endorse Obama this week, putting him over the total number of required delegates, and giving him the nomination. Observers will be watching Clinton to see how she responds.