Senator Hillary Clinton has abandoned her quest to become the first woman elected President of the United States. VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington, where Clinton called on an enthusiastic crowd of supporters to join her in backing fellow Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
CLINTON: "Thank you all. Thank you very, very much. Well.... Well, this isn't exactly the party I had planned, but I sure like the company."
Senator Hillary Clinton ended her bid for the Presidency Saturday, and told her supporters to unite behind Senator Barack Obama, who narrowly defeated Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination.
"The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand, is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States," she added.
Less than four days after Clinton still contended that she was the Democrats' strongest candidate for President, she declared her campaign suspended and endorsed Obama.
"Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run," she said. "I endorse him and throw my full support behind him."
Senator Clinton mentioned the name of her Senate colleague from Illinois 14 times as she addressed cheering supporters packed into Washington's National Building Museum.
Admirers began lining up several hours before the speech, and the line extended most of the way around a city block. Some in the crowd, wearing Obama shirts, said they wanted to promote party unity. But most wanted to show their support for the woman who came closer than any other in U.S. history to winning a major-party presidential nomination.
MALE SUPPORTER: "I love Hillary Clinton. I think she is a champion for the middle class. I think she is a strong advocate for women, for civil rights. I love her."
FEMALE SUPPORTER 1: "I like her strength. I like what she stands for, what she has accomplished, how she has overcome things."
FEMALE SUPPORTER 2: "This is a historical event that sort of makes me a little bit sad, because I really wanted Hillary to be President."
FEMALE SUPPORTER 3: "And we are just still supporting her. We are still in it to the end, all the way to the convention."
After 54 primary elections and caucuses and 22 debates, Obama secured the more than 2,100 delegates he needed to clinch the party's nomination after Tuesday's primaries in the states of South Dakota and Montana.
In conceding the nomination, Senator Clinton said both she and Senator Obama, and the people who had voted for them, had made history.
"When we first started, people everywhere asked the same questions: 'Could a woman really serve as Commander in Chief?' Well, I think we answered that one," she said. "And, 'Could an African-American really be our president?' And Senator Obama has answered that one."
About 18 million people voted for Clinton in her historic run for the presidency.