Page last updated at 04:01 GMT, Sunday, 8 June 2008 05:01 UK

Obama praises 'valiant' Clinton

Obama addresses the crowd in Bristow, Virginia (5 June 2008)
Mr Obama said Mrs Clinton has ensured that he is a better candidate

Democratic hopeful Barack Obama has paid tribute to Hillary Clinton for her "valiant campaign" to become the party nominee for US president.

He said his former rival had "shattered barriers on behalf of my daughters and women everywhere".

The praise came after Mrs Clinton formally abandoned her bid for the nomination at a rally in Washington.

She said Mr Obama had proved his "grace and grit", and she urged her supporters to put their energy into electing him.

Mr Obama is expected to face the Republican presumptive nominee, John McCain, in November's presidential election.

In a statement, Mr Obama said he was "thrilled" to have Mrs Clinton's endorsement.

Senator Clinton gives Barack Obama her backing

He credited her with reaching out to many American voters and making him a stronger candidate.

"She inspired millions with her strength, courage and unyielding commitment to the cause of working Americans."

Mr Obama also said Mrs Clinton's presence on the American political scene would continue.

"No one knows better than Senator Clinton how desperately America and the American people need change, and I know she will continue to be in the forefront of that battle this fall and for years to come."

His campaign website asked supporters to send a message of thank you to the Clinton campaign.

Angry supporters

Earlier, Mrs Clinton formally suspended her 16-month-long campaign with a speech at the National Building Museum in Washington.

She opened by saying: "This isn't exactly the party I planned but I sure like the company."

Aim high, work hard and care deeply about what you believe in
Hillary Clinton

Mrs Clinton thanked the "18 million of you from all walks of life" who voted for her and threw her support behind Mr Obama.

Although she had not succeeded, she said there were now "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" preventing a woman from winning the White House.

Referring to her formal rival, she said: "I've had a front-row seat to his candidacy and I have seen his strength and determination, his grace and his grit."

The BBC's Kevin Connolly at the venue says there was an angry feeling among many of her supporters that Mr Obama only won because the complex rules of the Democratic Party process suited his campaign.

I voted for Clinton and now I'll be voting for McCain. Obama's campaign has been more wishy-washy than John Kerry's ever was
Marshall Craig, Dallas, Texas

Mr Obama won enough delegates to effectively secure the nomination after the final primaries on Tuesday.

Intense speculation remains about whom he will choose as his vice-presidential running mate.

Mr Obama has announced a team to help him make his selection but has said he will not be rushed.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says that Mr Obama needs to find a candidate who can help him deliver key swing states and who can help broaden his appeal among white middle classes and middle-aged women - who were strong supporters of Mrs Clinton.

Meanwhile the Republicans have launched a "Clinton vs Obama" page on their party website drawing attention to her criticism of Mr Obama during the campaign.

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