Obama, Clinton tout Democratic unity at joint rallyJune 28th, 2008 - 9:32 am ICT by IANS
Washington, June 28 (DPA) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton put on a show of party unity Friday after a tense 16-month Democratic nomination process, promising to move forward as allies to elect Obama the next US president. The two former rivals appeared at a rally together for the first time since the end of the primary race in the small town of Unity, New Hampshire, a site chosen for its obvious symbolism to bring the centre-left party together.
“I know that what we start here in the fields of Unity will end on the steps of the Capitol, when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president,” Clinton said.
The former first lady urged her supporters to work as hard for Obama as they did in her own campaign, and spoke directly to those of them considering voting for presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in the November 4 general election.
“To anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting, or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider,” Clinton said.
“A Democratic president is absolutely essential for America to once again fulfil the purpose of America,” she said.
Obama, who would be the first African-American president, showered praise on Clinton for making history with her own campaign by breaking barriers for women around the country.
“For 16 months Senator Clinton and I have shared the stage as rivals for the nomination,” Obama said. “But today I can not be more proud, more honoured and more moved that we are sharing this stage as allies to bring about the fundamental change that this country so desperately needs.”
Friday’s rally followed their first joint appearance Thursday since the final intra-party contests were held more than three weeks ago. Obama and Clinton appeared together Thursday in Washington at an event with the former first lady’s top campaign donors.
Obama, a US senator from Illinois, wrote a personal cheque for 2,300 dollars - the maximum individual contribution - to Clinton’s own presidential campaign and urged some of his own top donors to do the same.
New York Senator Clinton has suspended her campaign but remains 20 million dollars in debt, and she has sought Obama’s help in raising money to pay off the unpaid tab.
The rally in Unity, a town where each candidate received 107 votes in a January primary, marked a clear change from the negative tone that had plagued the final months of their nomination fight - a reality not lost on Clinton.
“I was honoured to be in this race with Barack, and I’m proud that we had a spirited debate,” Clinton said, drawing chuckles from the crowd.
“That was the nicest way I could think of phrasing it,” she quipped.
In another sign of thawing relations between the two camps, Obama Friday brought Clinton’s former campaign policy director and long- time ally Neera Tanden on board his own campaign team. Tanden will join Obama’s efforts to win back the White House as his director of domestic policy.
Clinton formally endorsed Obama on June 7, but the two had yet to campaign together. It still remains an open question whether Obama will pick his former rival as his vice president.
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