Obama on brink of nomination

2012-04-22 20:20

Washington - It's official: President Barack Obama will clinch the Democratic nomination for president on Tuesday, ending a low-key primary race that many people probably didn't realise was happening.

Obama is certain to reach the 2 778 delegates he needs to secure his party's nod for a second time when five states vote on Tuesday. He has won almost every delegate so far, with a few exceptions in some Southern states that won't vote Democratic in the fall anyway.

But don't expect a big party, or any party. Campaign officials say they are focused on the general election, as they have been for months, and the all-but-certain Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

All this is a stark difference from four years ago.

At this time in 2008, Obama was still in an epic primary battle against Hillary Clinton. The fight for the nomination didn't end until June, on the last day of the primary calendar, when Obama inched across the finish line on his way to the general election and eventually the White House.

There was a party that night, and why not? Obama was a big underdog heading into the 2008 primaries. Facing the well-financed former first lady, Obama was the junior senator from Illinois, a black man with a funny sounding name.

No foreign policy experience. No military experience.

Obama's resume may have been a bit thin, but he parleyed his compelling life story and an inspiring message of hope and change into an unlikely run for the Democratic nomination and victory over Senator John McCain.

The partying was intense that night in 2008 when Obama became the first black to win a major party nomination to run for president. Obama's top campaign aides were in a Chicago bar near campaign headquarters. The candidate wasn't there.

Largest grassroots operation

Obama campaign spokesperson Ben LaBolt was succinct when asked if the campaign was planning a similar celebration Tuesday night, after the primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Rhode Island.

"No sir."

This year, Obama's march to the nomination has generated little interest because he has no major primary challenger, no one who made the ballot in more than a handful of states.

Democratic voters, however, are not unanimously behind the president.

In Oklahoma, anti-abortion protester Randall Terry, who founded Operation Rescue, got 18% of the vote in the Democratic presidential primary March 6. That should have been good enough to win eight delegates, but state party officials said Terry didn't follow party rules and was not a "bona fide Democrat".

The delegates were awarded to Obama; Terry complained he was the victim of "political insider trading".

In Alabama, 18% of Democratic voters voted for "uncommitted" in the March 13 primary, so the state party will send eight uncommitted delegates to the Democratic national convention.

Obama is unlikely to win Oklahoma or Alabama in the general election.

Regardless, LaBolt said Obama's campaign is busy building the largest grassroots operation ever.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  us elections 2012

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