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Obama makes history as Democratic nominee

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  • NEW: Barack Obama joins Joe Biden on stage at Democratic convention
  • Obama becomes first African-American nominated by major party for president
  • Ex-President Bill Clinton says Obama "ready to be president"
  • U.S. foreign policy focus of much of Wednesday agenday
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DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- On a historic night in U.S. politics, Barack Obama secured the Democratic Party's nomination for president and emerged for the first time on stage in Denver with running mate Sen. Joe Biden.

Barack Obama, right, and Joe Biden electrified the Democratic faithful in Denver.

Obama on Wednesday officially became the first African American to lead a major party ticket.

Delegates cried and cheered as former rival Sen. Hillary Clinton motioned to cut the roll call vote short, saying "Let's declare together with one voice right here, right now, that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president."

In speeches before the Democratic faithful, Biden and former U.S. President Bill Clinton repeatedly attacked the foreign and domestic policies of Republican George W. Bush. Both criticized the policies of presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain as maintaining Bush policies.

"John McCain is my friend. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics, and the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by John still amazes me," Biden said.

"But I profoundly, I profoundly disagree with the direction John wants to take this country from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Amtrak to veterans."

Citing the emergence of Russia, China, and India as great powers, the spread of lethal weapons and the challenges of climate change and fundamentalism, Biden blamed the Bush administration for what he called "the consequences of this neglect."

"With Russia challenging the very freedom of a new democratic country of Georgia, Barack and I will end that neglect," Biden said. "We will hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we will help Georgia rebuild"

Biden then attacked McCain's judgment on Afghanistan, saying that the Arizona senator had declared Afghanistan a success three years ago.

He cited Obama's call a year ago for "two more combat battalions to Afghanistan," saying the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff had shared a similar view for more troops.

"John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama was right," he repeated. Video Watch Biden compare the two candidates »

Biden also highlighted differences between the two candidates on Iran, saying that they differed with regard to dialogue and diplomacy.

Alluding to U.S. participation in nuclear talks with Iran last month, Biden said, "After seven years of denial, even the Bush administration recognizes that we should talk to Iran, because that's the best way to ensure our security.

"Again and again, John McCain has been wrong, and Barack Obama is right."

Similarly on Iraq, Biden said, "Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he says we can't have no timelines to draw down our troops in Iraq ... or should we listen to Barack Obama who says shift the responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home?

Biden then pointed out that U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki were in talks over a withdrawal deadline.

Biden, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and six-term senator from Delaware, is widely believed to have been chosen for the Democratic presidential ticket based on his foreign policy credentials. Video Watch Biden accept the nomination »

He gave the last speech on the third night of the convention, which carried the theme "Securing America's Future." Obama joined him on stage at the end of the speech, marking his first appearance at the convention. View an analysis of day 3 »

Earlier in the evening, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Obama was "ready to be president" and urged his wife's supporters to vote for the newly anointed Democratic presidential nominee. Share your reaction to the convention speeches

"Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world," Clinton told delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

Like Republicans, the Clintons had criticized Obama's lack of foreign policy experience when Sen. Hillary Clinton ran against Obama in the primary campaign.

But on Wednesday, the former president said Obama was "right for this job." Watch Clinton say he supports Obama.

Clinton also attacked the Bush administration for what many speakers have said are failed policies at home and abroad.

"Clearly, the job of the next president is to rebuild the American dream and to restore American leadership in the world," Clinton said. "Everything I learned in my eight years as president, and in the work I have done since in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job." Video Watch Clinton discuss Obama's diplomatic skills »

Sen. Hillary Clinton also offered a gesture of support for Obama Wednesday by moving to nominate him to be the Democratic party's candidate for president in the midst of a roll call vote.

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

The crowd of more than 4,400 delegates then affirmed Obama as their choice with cheers, officially capping a long and hard-fought battle between Obama and Clinton

Clinton released her delegates earlier in the day, freeing them to vote for Obama if they wanted to do so. Video Watch Clinton address her delegates »

Obama's perceived weakness compared to McCain on foreign policy and national security issues has been a concern to Democratic strategists, especially since Russia's conflict with Georgia intensified this month.


According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 78 percent of registered voters said they believe McCain can handle the responsibilities of commander in chief, compared to 58 percent for Obama. View poll results on national security »

The poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, also found 60 percent of voters said they believe McCain would better handle the issue of terrorism, compared to 36 percent for Obama. A majority also said it believes McCain is more likely than Obama to be a strong and decisive leader.

CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.

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