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Posted: August 27, 2008

American girl

Sen. Hillary Clinton throws her might behind Obama

Rebecca Cole

Wiith Tom Petty’s "American Girl" serenading her entrance, Sen. Hillary Clinton walked onstage to a wild, extended ovation that shook the beyond-capacity crowd at the Pepsi Center last night.

Basking in the bittersweet moment - bitter because she is not the Democratic Party’s nominee but sweet for being the first women to ever progress so far in a presidential primary - Clinton appeared tough, calm and poised to deliver the speech that many hoped would unify the fractured party.

And Clinton quickly delivered, voicing her stamp of approval onto the would-be nominee, Sen. Barack Obama.

"I am a proud supporter of Barack Obama," Clinton said as huge cheers greeted her words. "Whether you voted for me or for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose."

As white "Hillary" signs flew furiously and former president Bill Clinton looked on adoringly from the stands, the senator from New York made it clear that any talk of disgruntled votes for the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, was completely unacceptable.

"No way. No how. No John McCain," she said.

Clinton alluded to her long and grueling campaign, and the support she received along the way from a faithful core of feminists and women’s-rights activists by thanking her "sisterhood of the traveling pantsuit." But she made it clear the party must come together to elect Obama the next president, asking the crowd, "Were you in this campaign just for me?"

Speaking on the 88th anniversary of the 19th amendment that enshrined in the constitution a woman’s right to vote, Clinton invoked the struggles of those women and how they fought a hard-won battle. And how this year, her daughter Chelsea could vote for her own mother for president of the United States.

Although Clinton called McCain a "colleague and a friend," (amid a smattering of boos) and noted his honorable service to the country, she held nothing back as she laid into the Arizona senator. "We don’t need four more years of the last eight years."

Invoking a classic call-and-response, Clinton asked the crowd if they wanted four more years of high gas prices, more jobs being shipped overseas and fewer created here at home, or skyrocketing debt and foreclosures. "No!" was the crowd’s heated response.

"It makes perfect sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities," she said.

Clinton made sure her husband’s administration and achievements were recognized, telling the crowd to have faith that Democrats could restore the right leadership to the country. "As I recall, we did it before with President Clinton," she said to another frenzied round of applause and Bill waved to the crowd.

And she gave Obama a subtle challenge to pass her version of the Democrats health care solution, saying she "cannot wait" to watch Obama sign into law a plan that would cover every single American.

After giving a shout-out to Michelle Obama and her well-received speech the previous night, Clinton praised Obama’s VP pick Joe Biden, saying of the veteran Delaware senator, "He’s pragmatic, he’s tough and he’s wise."

With a message of "keep going," in the face of adversity, Clinton told the crowd, "We’ve got to get going by electing Barack Obama.

"We’re Americans," she said. "We’re not big on quitting."

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Rebecca Cole is the online editor at Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit "think-and-do" tank that drives the efficient use of energy and resources. Learn more about RMI's latest initiative, Reinventing Fire, to move the U.S. off fossil fuels by 2050.

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