Obama ‘winner’ of Democratic race
US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has earned enough delegates to clinch his party’s nomination, US media have projected.
The projections are based on his performance on the final day of the primaries in South Dakota and Montana.
His rival Hillary Clinton, who is projected by US media to win the contest in South Dakota, has refused to concede the election.
But she has told backers she is “open” to being Mr Obama’s running mate.
In a speech to supporters in New York, Mrs Clinton congratulated Mr Obama and his supporters “for all that they have accomplished”.
But she stressed that she was making “no decisions tonight” about her continued presence in the race.
Mr Obama was only a few delegates short of the 2,118 needed ahead of the polls closing in South Dakota and Montana.
And although he failed to win in South Dakota, he had managed to pick up enough endorsements during the day from the remaining uncommitted “super-delegates” – party officials with a free choice over who to support – to pass the winning post as soon as polls closed in the state.
Polls are scheduled to close at 2000 (0200 GMT) in Montana.
Before the voting was complete, Republican presumptive nominee John McCain delivered a speech to supporters in Louisiana, in which he declared that “the primary season is over, and the general election campaign has begun”.
In his speech, he attacked Mr Obama for being “the wrong change”, and defended himself against the Obama campaign’s criticism that he will continue President Bush’s policies, saying he had “not seen eye to eye” with the president on many issues.
Earlier, AP reported that two senior campaign officials were saying the race was effectively over.
The officials suggested that in a speech in New York City Mrs Clinton would not formally end her campaign but would accept Mr Obama had enough delegates to win, the agency said.
Not formally conceding would give Mrs Clinton more leverage on her future role in the Democratic Party’s battle against Senator John McCain in the November election, analysts said.
But, speaking on CNN, Clinton campaign chief Terry McAuliffe said the reports were “100%” incorrect.
“The race goes on. We’ve got two important votes today and then tomorrow we’ve got to work the super-delegates and we believe we can persuade enough super-delegates to come over and support Senator Clinton.”
Mr Obama is due to speak in St Paul, Minnesota, where the Republicans will hold their convention in September and formally nominate Mr McCain as their candidate.
Mr Obama appears well aware he must heal divisions within the Democratic Party.
“The sooner we can bring the party together, the better, so we can focus on John McCain and taking back the White House,” he said on Monday.
Thank God the nightmare is nearing an end. Hillary Clinton did nothing but waste Obama’s valuable campaign time against the Bush-wannabe known as John McCain. Clinton did nothing but whine, play the race card, and professed victory using obscure technicalities.
I am so glad enough sane Americans decided that political dynasties are a bad idea starting with Hillary.