Barack Obama and
Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to mend rifts within the
party on Friday after their combative primary fight, heaping
praise on each other as they campaigned together in a
town chosen for the symbolism of its name -- Unity.
considered the inevitable Democratic nominee, praised her
former rival for ''his grace and his grit'' and said John
McCain and the Republican Party had probably hoped the
two Democrats would not join forces against them in
the November election.
A day after
introducing Obama to some of her top financial backers,
Clinton encouraged her supporters to join with his ''to
create an unstoppable force for change we can all
believe in,'' urging those who had backed her not to
''To anyone who
voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting
for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider,'' she
The venue was
carefully chosen in a general election battleground state.
Unity awarded exactly 107 votes to each candidate in New
Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary in January,
though Clinton actually took the state.
As Clinton spoke
from a podium before a crowd of 6,000, Obama sat next to
her on a stool, coatless with his white shirt sleeves rolled
capped a turbulent Democratic primary season and tense
post-race transition as the two went from foes to friends --
at least publicly.
This was the most
visible event in a series of gestures the two senators
have made over the past week to heal the hard feelings --
between themselves as well as among their backers --
born from the acrimonious nomination fight. Both were
mindful of the need for the entire party to swing
behind Obama as he faces McCain, a veteran senator they have
both cast as offering nothing more than a continuation
of George W. Bush's unpopular presidency.
Obama, who has
rallied to shore up support among Clinton's backers,
praised both Clinton and her husband, former president Bill
Clinton, as allies and pillars of the Democratic
''We need them.
We need them badly,'' Obama said. ''Not just my campaign,
but the American people need their service and their vision
and their wisdom in the months and years to come,
because that's how we're going to bring about unity in
the Democratic Party. And that's how we're going to
bring about unity in America.''
The former first
lady has taken decisive strides to strike a chord of
harmony with Obama, recently speaking forcefully in support
of the Illinois senator. But their nomination fight
cast a pall on relations with her husband, with Obama
once complaining that he was not sure whom he was
through a spokesman, has said he would back Obama. But his
comments have been far more subdued than those of his wife.
Obama's mention of both Clintons could go a long way
to smoothing over relations and winning support in a
party where they retain a devoted following.
need one another right now as they move to the next phase
of the campaign.
depending on Clinton to give her voters and donors a clear
signal that she does not consider it a betrayal for them to
shift their loyalty his way. Clinton won convincingly
among several voter groups during the primaries,
including working-class voters and older women --
groups that McCain has actively courted since she left the
Clinton, for her
part, needs the Illinois senator's help in paying down
$10 million of her campaign debt, plus an assurance that she
will be treated respectfully as a top surrogate on the
campaign trail and at the Democratic Party convention
later this summer.
case from the start, Clinton urged any of her backers
who are considering not voting, or of voting for McCain
instead of Obama, to reconsider.
Mindful that he
needs her backing, Obama spoke of Clinton warmly.
''For 16 months,
Senator Clinton and I have shared the stage as rivals
for the nomination, but today I could not be happier and
more honored and more moved that we're sharing this
stage as allies to bring about the fundamental changes
that this country so desperately needs,'' Obama said.
''Hillary and I may have started with separate goals in this
campaign, but we made history together.''
her as a leader, I've learned from her as a candidate. She
rocks. She rocks. That's the point I'm trying to make,''
Obama said in response to cheers from the crowd.
chastised Obama for claiming that his Republican rival
would appoint a conservative Supreme Court that would be
detrimental to women's rights.
The Hill, a political newspaper in Washington,
D.C., reported Thursday that Obama made the comment last
week during a private meeting with members of the
Congressional Black Caucus.
Senator Obama and I admire his success, and I will conduct a
respectful campaign,'' McCain said Friday after touring a
General Motors factory in Lordstown, Ohio. ''That kind
of a statement or allegation is not worthy of Senator
Obama or worthy of the debate that the American people
want and deserve.''
spokesman said he had no immediate comment on the report.
repeated his call for face-to-face town-hall meetings with
Obama. ( AP)