Hillary and Obama's New Double Act

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Last night Obama [rolled into New York City] as part of a campaign to raise funds for his presidential race—as well as to help the Hillary Clinton for President debt retirement fund (estimates put that bill somewhere in the region of $23 million.) Obama started out at a fundraising event at the Grand Hyatt, where Caroline Kennedy introduced him. This morning, he moved on to the Hilton, where he spoke at the Women for Obama breakfast with Sen. Clinton.

Since the two appeared together in Unity, PA, when Clinton suspended her campaign and announced her support for her Democratic competitor, they’ve been working to join their supporters. Obama’s tone at the Hyatt was relaxed. He was quick to point out his ties to New York, where he lived for five years, lamenting that he “can’t just go walking in Central Park anymore – the secret service tell me, ‘No.’” During his talk, he again outlined his position on issues that have dominated the primaries: the question of universal healthcare, Iraq, education, energy and climate change. He clarified his stance on Iraq, in the face of recent rumors that he’s altered his views. “Is Obama backing off of pulling out of Iraq? I understand why people were skeptical, despite the fact that I hadn’t said anything that would show that I’d changed my position,” he said.

At the Women for Obama event, Clinton (who was introduced by Obama’s sister) appealed for “unity in the Democratic party.” The two senators certainly appeared on friendly terms. Talking of a conversation they’d had earlier, Clinton said that Obama had said to her, ‘You look kinda rested.’” Clinton said that she’s spending some of her newly found free time going to the gym, something she couldn’t do before. “Barack would get up faithfully every morning and go to the gym,” she said. “I would get up, and have my hair done. It’s one of those Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire things.”

With their battle decided, it was time for Clinton to take aim at their common enemy: “We have seen in a very painful way what happens when an American president leads us in the wrong direction, making decisions not premised on our values or who we really are.” The digging at Dubya continued; Clinton poked fun at the president for only recently discovering the climate change problem “four months before he’s about to leave office, at a meeting in Japan…all of a sudden he says ‘gosh, this is a problem, I sure hope the next president does something about it.’”

Then she introduced Obama, who thanked her, and referred to their common path, referring to himself as “someone who took the same historic journey as Senator Clinton, although I didn’t do it in heels.” After reiterating some of the points he’d made the previous evening, he joined Clinton’s attack on the Republicans. This being a crowd of (mostly) women, he had a shot at the opposing party’s track record on issues regarding the family.  “Some politicians in Washington make a lot of noise about family values, but when it comes to what people actually need to support their families…these same politicians get awfully quiet.” Obama, who received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood on Wednesday, criticized McCain’s hopes of seeing Roe vs. Wade overturned.

He ended his speech by referring once again to his and Clinton’s “common experience of shattering barriers that have stood firm since the founding of this nation.” Whether Clinton becomes Obama’s vice president or not, it was clear from his words this morning that she’ll have a fundamental role to play.

Photo by Anna King

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