Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama and Clinton Campaign Together

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama and Clinton Campaign Together

Article excerpt

It will be the photo-op seen 'round the world: Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, together Friday on stage, a picture of Democratic unity in the town of Unity - the New Hampshire burg where each got 107 votes in the January primary.

But just as important for Senator Obama, in his quest to reunify his party after a divisive primary season, will be a private meeting the night before with a few dozen of Senator Clinton's top fundraisers .

While polls indicate that the rate of "defections" - Democrats who intend to vote for presumed GOP nominee John McCain - is already approaching the usual rate of the recent elections, Obama can take nothing for granted. And, having decided to forgo public financing on the wager that he can raise far more money on his own, now he has to deliver. Clinton donors, and their fundraising prowess, are key to that equation.

"Unity is the key word," says Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. "On the Hillary side, some of these people are angry and tired and a little bitter. But they will be a lot less so if Obama can assist her."

In a teleconference on Tuesday, Obama asked his top fundraisers to consider helping the former first lady pay back some of her campaign debt. She ended May $22.5 million in the hole, but at least $12 million is money she loaned to herself. Obama is asking his money bundlers to help her pay off money she owes to outside vendors, totaling at least $10 million.

Obama has yet to ask his vast network of small-money donors to pitch in for Clinton. That might be a riskier proposition for the senator from Illinois. Some rank-and-file Obama supporters viscerally do not like Clinton; to some, she does not represent change. She also voted to authorize US military action in Iraq, a move that ended up paving the way for Obama's antiwar candidacy.

But now that Obama has locked up the Democratic nomination, both camps are hoping that all can be forgiven, and that the campaign strengths of both Clintons can be deployed to return a Democrat to the White House for the first time since the Clintons themselves lived there. …

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