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Democrats Move to Unify Obama, Clinton Factions at National Convention

U.S. Democrats have made an important decision regarding their national nominating convention later this month in Denver, Colorado. The party has decided that the name of Senator Hillary Clinton will be placed in nomination, even though Senator Barack Obama remains on track to be confirmed as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee at the end of the four-day convention that begins on August 25. VOA's National Correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Senators Obama and Clinton issued a joint statement on the decision Thursday. Obama said the process of placing Clinton's name in nomination would honor her historic campaign and bring the Democratic Party together.

Senator Clinton added that with the party strongly united, Obama would be elected president and would put the country on the path to peace and prosperity.

Clinton would have been the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party, while Obama is on track to become the first African-American major party nominee for the White House.

Obama effectively secured the Democratic nomination in June, after winning a majority of delegates chosen from party caucuses and primaries as well as Democratic superdelegates. Superdelegates are Democratic Party elected officeholders and activists who automatically vote at the national party convention.

Democrats hope that the symbolic gesture of placing Senator Clinton's name in nomination will help heal the serious rift in the party that developed during the lengthy and bruising primary fight between Clinton and Senator Obama.

Senator Clinton is scheduled to address the convention on its second night, August 26. And a number of Clinton supporters intend to demonstrate their loyalty to her at the national convention in Denver. But some Obama supporters are concerned that the expressions of support for Clinton might hinder party unity and take the spotlight away from the presumptive nominee.

Pew Research Center pollster Andrew Kohut says Obama needs to pay tribute to Clinton during the convention to ensure he wins over her supporters in the November election.

"The problem is most difficult for Obama with older women. There are probably a couple of strikes there. Older people have more concerns about his lack of experience and older women were pretty strong backers of Senator Clinton," he said.

Some analysts have found a surprising number of Clinton supporters still reluctant to back Obama.

Clay Richards is a pollster with Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Quinnipiac is conducting regular presidential polls in three states that are expected to be closely contested in November - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"There is still some indication in Pennsylvania that there are still some unhappy Clinton voters there. Fourteen percent of the Democrats in the state say they are voting for Senator McCain. We will have to watch and see where that goes. If indeed those Democrats come home [i.e., vote Democrat], then Senator Obama is probably home free in Pennsylvania," he said.

Republicans hold their national convention the first week in September in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, where they are expected to formally nominate Senator John McCain as their presidential nominee.