Clinton and Obama head for Unity

White House contender Barack Obama and his defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton will hold their first joint campaign rally in the aptly named New Hampshire town of Unity, aides said on Monday.

The Obama campaign said the former adversaries would hold the “Unite for Change” rally on Friday in the western town, where each candidate got exactly 107 votes in the Granite State’s January primary.

Clinton won the New Hampshire primary, after a moist-eyed moment in a coffee shop, to come back after Obama’s victory in the Iowa caucuses and set in train five months of coast-to-coast battles that ended with Obama only just ahead.

Clinton drummed home the message of unity on Monday as she posted a video on her website, appealing for donors to help pay down her campaign debts of $22,5-million—half of which she lent to the campaign herself.

“Together we made history and I will continue to work toward our common goal of building an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us,” Clinton said in the video.

“This goal is shared by our Democratic Party nominee, Senator Barack Obama, and I look forward to campaigning with him across this great country of ours.”

Obama, meanwhile, lauded the working women in his family—his mother, grandmother and wife—who he said had made his political success possible.

Addressing an audience of women balancing work and family life in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Obama said he wanted all American girls, including his two daughters, to “truly have the same opportunities as our sons”.

“Standing here today [Monday], I know that we have drawn closer to making this America a reality because of the extraordinary woman who I shared a stage with so many times throughout this campaign—Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“And in the months and years ahead, I look forward to working with her to make progress on the issues that matter to American women and to all American families—healthcare and education, support for working parents and an insistence on equality,” he said in his prepared remarks.

Clinton is returning to the public stage this week after keeping a low profile since conceding the Democratic nominating contest to Obama on June 7.

On Tuesday, the New York senator is to return to Congress and on Thursday she is due to address Latino politicians at a luncheon in Washington.

Later on Thursday, she is scheduled to introduce Obama to a private meeting of her leading fundraisers at a Washington hotel, where she will urge them to bankroll Obama’s White House bid against Republican John McCain.

Some Clinton supporters have called on the deep-pocketed Obama to tap his army of donors to help repay her debts and so send a powerful message of party unity.

Obama rarely misses an opportunity to praise Clinton but he has dropped no hints about what role she may play in his campaign or, if he beats McCain in November, his future administration.

His hiring last week of Clinton’s former campaign manager, Patty Solis Doyle, who is estranged from the New York senator, was widely viewed as a sign that he does not intend to offer the vice-presidential candidacy to his ex-rival.

Still, the Democratic Party appears to be coalescing behind Obama despite the bruising nature of his long primary fight with Clinton.

A Fox News poll on Thursday suggested that 17% of Clinton supporters would vote for McCain in November rather than Obama. The number who said that in April was nearly double at 32%.

On Sunday, the former first lady addressed a New York high school’s graduation class in her first public speech since her rousing concession address.

And in her fundraising video, Clinton reaffirmed that her bid to be the first female president had opened the way for other women to crack America’s “highest and hardest glass ceiling”.

Referring to her primary vote total, she said the ceiling had “18-million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before”.—AFP

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