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Democrats hoping for party unity
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Barack Obama unofficially secured the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night, but local supporters of both candidates say the Democratic party will need to be united to win in the general election.

It has been a heated primary season for the presidential hopefuls. Obama has been the front-runner since February, but Clinton has held a strong base of voters throughout the contest.

The official announcement of the Democratic presidential candidate will not come until the Democratic convention this summer. Clinton signaled Wednesday that she would end her presidential run Saturday.

In Georgia, a red state that supported Obama in the Democratic primary, delegates Lauren Bell and Joe Diaz closely followed their respective candidates.

"I’m disappointed as a Hillary supporter. But I’m not a person who dislikes Barack Obama either. So as a party, I think we’re unified. I will ultimately support whoever the nominee is," said Diaz, the Northeast Georgia Clinton delegate from Gainesville.

Bell, the regional Obama delegate, also of Gainesville, reflected Diaz’s feelings.

"In the end, I think Obama supporters would have come over to Hillary’s side if she was the nominee, and I think the same is going to be for the Hillary supporters," she said. "I think it was a long time coming, but I think (Obama) was deserving of the nomination."

Who Obama will choose to run with him as vice president is the next big question for Democrats, and some speculate it could be Clinton.

Diaz said an Obama-Clinton ticket would be "very strong."

Bell said "(Clinton) has a large amount of the popular vote, but politically, I don’t know who the best running mate would be."

Both delegates agreed that a Democrat has a good chance of taking the presidency in November following the unpopular Republican Bush Administration.

"As a Democrat, I think (McCain) is the best qualified Republican there is. I just don’t think it matters at this point. He’s tied himself to Bush’s policies, and it’s clear that the population doesn’t want to go with Bush’s policies," Diaz said.

Josh Turner, a McCain delegate and chairman of the White County Republicans, said he thought McCain had a better chance of being elected with Obama as the alternative.

He said the tough race between the Democrats along with Obama’s political inexperience could hurt him.

"(Obama) is at the top of their ticket. He’s the leader, more or less, of their party, and he’s been in the United States Senate a little over two years. Sen. McCain is the leader, more or less, of our party, and he has a lifetime of service and been in the Senate for decades. ...That’s going to help us," Turner said.

Bell said she anticipates political experience will be debated in the remainder of the race.

"McCain does have a lot of experience, and I think that’s what his argument’s going to be. But I think Obama’s argument against that is that his experience hasn’t always come out to be good judgment making," Bell said. "I think (Obama) has better judgment."

Bell and Turner agreed that the economy will likely be the biggest issue for voters in the election.

"The economy is the issue everybody can relate to," Bell said.

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