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Obama, Clinton talk post-primary unity at North Carolina Dem dinner.

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek was looking around at all the people. In routine years, the North Carolina Democratic Party draws 450 to 500 people to its annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner.

With Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama as the headliners -- and a crucial election Tuesday -- thousands of party faithful filled the J.S. Dorton Arena on the state fairgrounds Friday to hear the two rivals in the extended and rancorous fight for the Democratic presidential nomination call for unity once the race is settled.


"We are going to be united in the fall," said Obama, who went on to give one of his stem-winders, updated with a mention of the crisis triggered by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Clinton, who went on to talk about "real and immediate solutions," said, "I will tell you this. If Sen. Obama is the nominee, you better believe I'll work my heart out for him. And if I'm the nominee, I know Sen. Obama will do the very same for me."

Obama and Clinton have sought the endorsements of former Sen. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. They live in nearby Chapel Hill but were at Disney World in Orlando, though there was speculation that Elizabeth may send a signal that she favors Clinton.

While the 16-month duration -- and negative turn -- of the Obama-Clinton race have many Democrats worried that it will leave the party wounded in the fall, only helping Sen. John McCain -- in the Tar Heel state, it's all new. The excitement has resulted in the registration of "tens of thousands of new Democrats," Meek said, while GOP registrations have declined.

Obama was once more than 20 points ahead, but his lead has dwindled as Clinton has been trying to pare down his margin, stumping here all day Friday.

"He's been thrown off message for about a week," Meek said of Obama, a reference to Obama denouncing Wright after his disastrous press conference at the National Press Club on Monday.

Obama took an interesting tack on Wright. "I noticed that over the last couple of weeks there's been an attempt to make it about me. 'He doesn't wear a flag pin. He's got a funny name. That ex-pastor of his, that's a problem.' I understand this."

The crowd gave an approving roar.

2 Comments

I believe Hillary and Bill WILL work their hearts out for the party they saved from Reaganomics in 1992 for us--but I do not believe that the Obamas will reciprocate.
And that's partly why I stopped volunteering and supporting their campaign.
They took things terribly, horribly negative.
And Michelle inflamed the sexism and encouraged it.
She's the shark behind the campaign.
Did you see how she became the deferential demure 'wifey' part of the couple when staring down CNN's Susan Malveaux and then NBC's Meredith Viera didn't work?
All of a sudden she's doing Tammy Wynette--I mean REALLY doing it--wearing a cleavage revealing tight pink thing--what's next, a tube top?
But I wasn't fooled.
Michelle's a 'what's in it for me" Black Nationalist Buppie type--and I'm offended that she continues to call her husband 'gentlemanly' or restrained, when we all know Barry from Hawaii flipped off Hillary and the GE/Nuke connection kicked in for him, editing and fixing things for him,.
Maybe he WILL try to keep people from getting ugly if Hillary is deemed the best top of our ticket.
But that leaves a lot of questions about Michelle.

Hillary says she will campaign vigourously for Obama if he is the nominee. She said she will do whatever it takes to help the Deomocratic nominee for President. Obama says he will "Help Democrats" if he is not the nominee. What does that mean? That he will help other Democrats but not necessarily the Democratic nominee for President? Michelle tells GMA she would have to "think about it" when asked if she would support the Democratic nominee if her husband is not the nominee. Who is the one who is running as a unifier again? Who do you think will actually work hardest to unite the party?

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 3, 2008 4:41 PM.

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