WASHINGTON--In a spirit of Democratic unity, a cadre of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's most steadfast supporters--and fund-raisers-flew to Washington to hear from presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama make an appeal to them Thursday night.
Among those from the Chicago area present:
Bill Brandt, Lynn Cutler, J.B. Pritzker, Betsy Ebeling, Val Alexander, Tim Wright and Rashid Chaudary.
Speech excerpts, color, from the pool report......
The M.C. for the night was Terry McAuliffe. As Clinton walked on stage,
followed by Obama, Clinton’s money man pointed out that the group had
collectively raised $230 million for Clinton’s campaign. Congratulating
Obama, McAuliffe rallied the troops one last time, “This, folks, was a
magnificent race…This party is on fire.”
Turning back to Clinton, McAuliffe said she has great future, “no matter
what she does. If she wants to become pope, it doesn’t matter.”
Obama and McAuliffe embraced and joked as Clinton moved up to the podium.
She started by knocking down the pope idea: “First, I’d have to become
Catholic, and second, we don’t want to go there.”
Clinton profusely thanked her supporters for “what you each have done over
so many years. I look out and I see faces of people who have been friends
and colleagues and warriors at arms on so many different occasions.”
She lamented that the party had only won three of the last 10 elections.
“That is a sobering thought,” she said, adapting her electability argument
from the primary campaign. “For me this is intensely personal, because I
want to see our country once again not just solving problems, which sounds
very pragmatic, but lifting up our sights and finding the promise of our
country by once again producing the progress that is truly the American
birthright. It has slipped away from us.”
She recalled her many months on the campaign trail – the countless people
she had met, and all of their struggles. Obama stood next to her, looking
on as Clinton spoke. “We have to make it a priority in our lives to elect
Barack Obama the next president of the United States,” Clinton said, to
“This was a hard-fought campaign,” she continued. “That’s what made it so
exciting and intense and why people’s passions ran so high on both sides. I
know my supporters have extremely strong feelings, and I know Barack’s do
as well. But we are a family, and we have an opportunity now to really
demonstrate clearly we do know what’s at stake, and we will do whatever it
takes to win back this White House.”
“Here here!” a man shouted, to more robust applause.
Clinton acknowledged Reps. Sheila Jackson-Lee and Stephanie Tubbs Jones,
two of her most prominent and devoted African American supporters. Someone
pointed out that Rep. Anthony Weiner was in the room as well.
And then she wrapped up with this: “Let me, to my friends, and you are all
my friends, I am just so intensely grateful to each and every one of you.
We have a lot of work to do, going forward, not only the election, but once
the election is over, to making sure we ralize all the benfits that this
election can and should bring to our country. So let me introduce my friend
Sen. Barack Obama to my friends, all of these wonderful people who have met
so much to me in my life.”
Next it was Obama’s turn, and he told two stories about his family to
“illustrate the extraordinary nature of (Clinton’s) public service, and
extraordinary nature of her campaign.”
One was the familiar tale of Obama’s maternal grandmother, who worked on a
bomber assembly line during World War II, but who never went to college
because she didn’t qualify for the G.I. bill -- yet rose from bank
secretary to bank vice president.
He talked to her frequently during the primary season, and obviously “she
was rooting for her grandson,” Obama said. But she also complained that
Clinton wasn’t getting a fair shake. “When I see that instinct of hers to
fight on behalf of those who need a champion, she reminds me a little of
me,” Obama’s grandmother told him. He said the story illustrated “the
ability of Hillary Clinton to inspire passion on behalf of those who have
been left out in the past.”
Then he told of being surprised that his 9-year-old daughter Malia had been
well aware of the historic nature of the Clinton-Obama duel. Her father,
she knew, could be the first African American president. But she also
observed that Clinton could be the first woman. “Then she said, it’s about
time, and rolled over and went to bed,” Obama said.
As the laughter died down, he continued, “between my grandmother’s
generation and my young daughter, there’s a testimony to the challenges
that are hard won and hard fought. To the point that my 9-year-old takes
for granted that of course we can have a woman president. Of course we can
have an African-American president. But that doesn’t come just by the
passage of time. It comes because people are consistently working and
Like Clinton, he recalled the many struggling people he has met on the
campaign trail. He said of his former rival, “It was an extraordinary honor
to be alongside her during the course of this campaign. It was an
extraordinary test.” Her recognized “her tenacity, her fighting spirit. I
am a better candidate as a consequence of having run against Sen. Hillary
Obama continued, “I recognize that this room shared the same passion that a
roomful of my supporters would show. I do not expect that passion to be
transferred. Sen. Cinton is unique, and your relationships with her are
unique.” But he added, “Sen. Clinton and I at our core agree deeply that
this country needs to change.”
Finally, at the end of his remarks, Obama made a direct appeal for support.
“I’m going to need Hillary by my side campaigning during his election, and
I’m going to need all of you.” He recounted how he had told his top
fundraisers this week “to get out their checkbooks and start working to
make sure Sen. Clinton -- the debt that’s out there needs to be taken care
And that, folks, was the night’s big applause line. In vowing to help pay
off Clinton’s debt, Obama won a standing ovation.
Attendees included, in no particular order (and please check spellings – I
wrote down name tags): Vernon and Ann Jordan, Terry McAuliffe, Rep.
Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, former Clinton social secretary Ann Stock, Aidan
Connolly, former DNC national finance chair Maureen White, Texas state Sen.
Rodney Ellis, Bruce Lee, former Clinton lawyer Lanny Breuer, Cincinnati
trial lawyer Stan Chesley, Patrick McGovern, Philip Schaeffer, Harrrisburg,
Pa.lobbyist Bill Titelman, Washington lobbyist Alfred Mottur, Kathy and
Harvey Sloane (she’s the big-time NY real estate broker; he’s the former
Lousiville Ky mayor): Clinton LGBT supporter Jeffrey Marburg-Goodman,
Georgetown Law professor Heidi Li Feldman, Maurice Kirkland, Clinton/Gore
fundraiser and lobbyist Richard Sullivan, Angela Lancaster, Nancy Bekavak,
Chuck Muckenfuss, Yael Belkind, Sharon Yang, Sue Esserman, Andy Marks, Rep.
Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rhoda Glickman, Blaze Wharton, Larry Schneider, Dennis
Cheng, Brendan Martin, Jay Snyder, Jonathan Aronchick, Sen. Ted Deutch,
Emily Acten, Makinder Talk, Katie Dowd, Adam Goers, Steve White, Amb. Tim
Chorba, Judy Harris, Yasher Hedeyat, Michael Steed, lobbyist Tony Podesta,
Clinton friend Beth Dozeretz, Natalie Jones, Donald Dunn, Brendan Martin,
9-11 Commission member and former deputy atty general Jamie Gorelick,
Debbie Branson, former Clinton Transportation Secretary Ro