Clinton puts Obama over the top

Sen. Barack Obama officially became the Democratic presidential nominee Wednesday, furthering a meteoric rise from a little-known state senator to the first African American to win the nomination of a major party.

Obama, who made a surprise appearance at the convention late Wednesday after Sen. Joe Biden's speech, was given a final symbolic boost earlier in the day by Sen. Hillary Clinton, who moved from the convention floor to suspend the roll call of the states and make her former rival's nomination unanimous.

The gesture of conciliation brought to a conclusion the closest and hardest-fought nomination battle Democrats have waged in the modern era of presidential politics, pitting two historic candidacies in a contest that divided the party and left bitter feelings lingering among Clinton loyalists.

But after days of talk about how the often contentious competition would end, the nomination-by-acclamation set off a joyous scene on the convention floor, as delegates danced to the strains of “Love Train” and then broke out in chants of “Yes, we can!”

On Wednesday, Clinton met with her delegates and told them they were free to vote any way they wished. But she added: “I signed my ballot this morning for Sen. Obama.”

The roll call took place in the late afternoon – the first time in at least 50 years that Democrats have not scheduled their roll call on prime-time television – as Democrats sought to avoid drawing attention to the lingering resentments between Clinton and Obama delegates. Yet, the historic nature of the vote escaped no one and sent a charge through the Pepsi Center as a procession of state delegations cast their votes.

Obama was declared the party's nominee at 4:47 p.m. Denver time after Clinton moved that the roll call be suspended and that Obama by declared the party's nominee by acclamation. The vote was timed to conclude during the network evening news broadcasts.

“With eyes firmly fixed on the future in the spirit of unity, with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and country, let's declare together in one voice, right here and right now, that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president,” Clinton said.

“I move that Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois be selected by this convention by acclamation as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States,” she said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, standing at the lectern, asked for a second and was greeted by a roar of voices. A louder roar came from the crowd when she asked for support of the motion. When the voting was cut off, Obama had received 1,549 votes, compared with 231 for Clinton.

Obama was with his wife and daughters in their Denver hotel when he learned that he had been nominated by acclamation.

The New York Times and The Associated Press contributed.