ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - Barack Obama will take up the reins of the Democratic drive for the White House on Tuesday night, calling on Democrats to come together for a "common effort to chart a new course for America."
"Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America," the Illinois senator will say, speaking in the city where Republicans will officially nominate his GOP opponent in September.
"Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States."
Obama went over the top in delegates earlier Tuesday as many of the remaining uncommitted superdelegates flocked to his side, making him the first African-American candidate in U.S. history to lead a major-party ticket.
According to the text of his speech obtained by CNN, Obama will laud his chief Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, downplaying divisions sparked within the party by the difficult campaign fight between the two and reaching out to voters who strongly supported the former first lady.
The country and the party "are better off because of her," he will say of Clinton, who he said is driven by "an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be."
"And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory," he will say. "When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen."
Obama will note millions of new voters who came to the polls in record numbers understanding "that this election isn't just about the party in charge of Washington, it's about the need to change Washington."
Obama will reserve the bulk of his speech, however, for the presumptive GOP nominee, John McCain.
"I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine," Obama will say of the Arizona senator. "My differences with him are not personal. They are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign. Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party
in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign."
Saying that McCain "decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time" as a senator last year, Obama will say "it is not change" for McCain to back Bush's current economic policies and Iraq strategy.
"So I'll say this," Obama will say. "There are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them."
Obama will call for a foreign policy that "requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy" and "an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who created it." He will chastise McCain for contrasting his own many trips to Iraq with Obama's single visit during his 3 1/2 years as a senator.
"Maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy - cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota - he'd understand the kind of change that people are looking for," Obama will say.
Obama also will pledge that his campaign would not be "governed by fear, and innuendo, and division."
"What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon - that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize," he will say. "Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we
are Americans first. We are always Americans first."