New York, June 4 : Senator Barack Obama of Illinois laid claim to the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night, taking a historic step toward his once-improbable goal of becoming the America's first black President.
"Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States," Obama said during a huge rally in St. Paul, Minnesota. "America, this is our moment, this is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past," the 46-year-old senator said in his first appearance as the Democratic nominee-in-waiting.
Appearing overwhelmed, Obama paused for a long period as the crowd of roughly 17,000 people at the Xcel Energy Centre erupted in wild applause and sign-waving, The New York Post reported.
Another 15,000 people were outside, and chants of "Yes we can!" - Obama's catch phrase - were heard throughout his speech.
Obama's victory will be made official with the vote of delegates at the Democratic convention in late August.
In his remarks, Obama complimented Hillary Rodham Clinton and even mentioned her husband, Bill, who's been deeply critical of the Illinois senator.
Obama went into the day needing just over 40 delegates to hit the magic 2,118 number needed to clinch at the party convention - and capped the night with 2,144 after a drip-drip rollout of super delegates throughout the day.