Opinion: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton tie the political knot in Unity


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Well, they did it, though it would have been quite the surprise if they hadn’t after all the build up. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton shared the stage in Unity, New Hampshire, a few minutes ago and sought to put their often contentious pasts behind them and focus their supporters on the general election. (See video below.)

Given the goal of the day -- unity -- it wasn’t a time to break out new policy, and Obama didn’t. They essentially made nice, smiled a lot, sang each other’s praises and then tried to rally the troops (The Swamp has a take on this, too).


And the coziness of the day began before they even left Washington, reports our colleague Noam Levey, who traveled with them. Obama and Clinton shared a half-embrace on the tarmac at Washington Reagan National airport then boarded the plane that Clinton used in her campaign. They settled in next to each other in the second row on the left side of the plane, Obama taking the window.

The chumminess continued once they arrived at Unity, with Clinton telling the crowd of more than 4,000 people, ‘Unity is not only a beautiful place, as we can see it’s a wonderful feeling isn’t it?’ Obama joined the audience in applauding the sentiment, ‘And I know what we start here in this field in Unity will end in the steps of the Capitol when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president.’

Later, Clinton addressed the sometimes edgy tone of the campaign, saying ‘It was spirited because we both care so much.’ But we are one party, we are one America,” she said. We ‘are not going to rest until we take back out country and put it on the path to peace, prosperity and progress.’

Then it was Obama’s turn (his prepared comments are after the jump). He sang Clinton’s praises as a rival, then made a direct play for unity citing her and Bill Clinton‘s lengthy presence in national politics. ‘We need them,’ Obama said.

‘We need them badly... That’s how we’re going to bring about unity in the Democrat Party and how we’re going to bring about unity in America.’

After making some odd comments about Clinton campaigning in heels -- that won’t do much to dispel anger among some of Clinton’s female supporters -- Obama talked about the historic nature of both their campaigns. ‘Hillary and I may have started with separate goals in this campaign, but we have made history together.


‘Together, we inspired tens of millions of Americans to participate, some to cast ballot for the very first time, others who voted for the first time in a very long time. And together, in this campaign, in 2008, we shattered barriers that have stood firm since the founding of this nation.’

(UPDATE: Susan Pinkus of the L.A. Times Poll provides the following information:: In our latest Times/Bloomberg national poll, two-thirds of Clinton’s supporters said they would vote for Obama, 11% said they would vote for John McCain, the Republican nominee, 12% said they were undecided and the rest went to third party candidates.)

--Scott Martelle and Michael Muskal

Prepared Obama remarks:

Thank you, Hillary Clinton. And thank you, Unity, New Hampshire for hosting our little get together today.

I want to start by saying a few words about the woman you just heard from. For sixteen months, Senator Clinton and I have shared the stage as rivals. But today, I couldn’t be happier and more honored that we’re sharing it as allies in the effort to bring this country a new and better day.

As someone who has taken the same historic journey as Senator Clinton; who has watched her campaign and debate, I know from firsthand experience how tough she is, and how passionate she is, and how committed she is to the causes that brought us here today. And I can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning -– even in the face of tough odds -– is exactly what sent her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago; what sent her to work at the Children’s Defense Fund and caused her to fight for health care as First Lady; what has made her a fantastic Senator from New York and a historic candidate for the presidency -– an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be. I’ve admired her as a leader, I’ve learned from her as a candidate, I am proud to call her my friend, and I know how much we’ll need both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton as a party and a country in the months and years to come.

Hillary and I may have started with separate goals in this campaign, but we have made history together. Together, we inspired tens of millions of Americans to participate, some who cast their ballot for the very first time, others who voted for the first time in a long time. And together, in this campaign, in 2008, we shattered barriers that have stood firm since the founding of this nation.


Now, I don’t pretend that one election can erase all the past biases and outdated attitudes that we’re still wrestling to overcome. And I know that there have been times over the last sixteen months where those biases have emerged. But I also know that while this campaign has shown us how far we have to go, it has also proven the progress we have made. I know that because of our campaign, and because of the campaign waged by Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of yours will forever know that there is no barrier to who and what they can be in the United States of America.

It is fitting that we meet in a place called Unity, because the truth is, that’s the only way we can solve the challenges facing this country. Today, we look back at the votes cast here in the snows of January not as 107 votes for Hillary Clinton and 107 votes for me, but as 214 votes for change in America – votes cast by young and old, men and women, rich and poor, Democrats and Independents and even a few Republicans. And that’s why at this moment, we must come together not just as Democrats, but as Americans – united by our understanding that there is no problem we cannot solve; no challenge we cannot meet if we meet it as one nation, as one people.

The decisions we make in this election and in the next few years –- on Iraq, on climate change, on our economy -– will shape the next generation and possibly the next century. And on each and every issue in this campaign, the choice could not be clearer. It is a choice between moving forward and falling further behind. It’s a choice between more of the same policies that have failed us for eight long years or a new direction for the country we love.

We can continue to spend ten billion dollars a month in Iraq and leave our troops there for the next twenty years, or fifty years, or one hundred years; we can follow a policy that doesn’t change whether violence is up or down, whether the Iraqi government takes responsibility for itself or not.

Or we can decide that it is time to begin a gradual, responsible withdrawal from Iraq. It is time to rebuild our military and take care of our veterans. It is time to refocus our efforts on the war we must win in Afghanistan, where the leadership of al Qaeda actually exists.

That is the choice in this election.

We can continue to watch the cost of health care push more families and businesses into bankruptcy, and allow the number of uninsured to rise.


Or we can decide that it is time to guarantee coverage to every American who wants it. It is time to bring down the typical family’s premiums by $2500. And it is time to bring down costs for the entire country by bringing our health care system into the 21st century through better technology and more emphasis on prevention.

That is the choice in this election.

We can continue to depend on dictators for our energy, and destroy our planet in the process. We can give billions in tax breaks to oil companies that are making record profits while we give pennies to consumers who are paying over $4 a gallon for gas.

Or we can decide that solving our energy crisis will be the great project of this generation. We can decide that it is time give Americans immediate relief at the pump with another round of tax rebate checks. It is time to eliminate those oil company giveaways and invest in clean, renewable energy like wind power, and solar power, and the next generation of biofuels –- investments that can create up to five million new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. It is time to work with our automakers to raise the fuel efficiency in our cars with technology we have today. It is time to leave our children a planet that is safer and cleaner for generations to come.

That is the choice in this election.

We can watch another generation of our children graduate without the skills they need to compete in a global economy because our schools didn’t prepare them or they couldn’t afford a college education. Or we can make a commitment to every child, everywhere from the day they are born to the day they graduate college -– that we will invest in early childhood education; that we will recruit an army of new teachers with better pay and more support, and that we will finally make college affordable for every single American who wants to go.

That is the choice in this election.

When it comes to our struggling economy, we can allow the divide between Main Street and Wall Street to grow, or we can ensure that our prosperity is once again the tide that lifts every boat.

We can have a tax code that rewards wealth and hands out billions more to big corporations and multimillionaires, or we can reward work by giving a $1,000 tax cut to 95% of working families, and by eliminating income taxes for senior citizens who make less than $50,000-a-year


We can keep giving tax breaks to corporations that ship our jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding the companies that create good jobs right here in America.

We can allow millions of Americans to work full-time, but still not make enough to support their families. Or we can raise the minimum wage, index it for inflation, and ensure that in America, hard work pays.

And we can perpetuate the unfair practice that pays women less than men, or we can honor our values, and the valiant efforts of Senator Clinton., by finally guaranteeing that women who do the same work as men are paid at the same rate.

That is the choice in this election.

No matter where we’ve disagreed, these are the issues that have always united Senator Clinton and myself. They are the causes that unite as Democrats. And I believe that at this moment, they are the causes that can unite us as Americans. Because the choice in this election is not left versus right or liberal versus conservative – it is the past versus the future. And it is time for us to move toward that future together.

I know it won’t be easy. I know it won’t happen overnight. I know that there will be many times where Americans disagree with each other.

But I also know that I have seen people of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself. I’ve walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South Side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white, and Latino fought together for good jobs and good schools. And throughout two decades of service, I’ve worked with friends in the other party to provide more children with health insurance and more working families with a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent; and to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda in Washington.


In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

This is one of those moments. This is our chance to turn the page on the policies of the past. This is our chance to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. This is our chance; this is our time, to march together in unity, as one people, toward the future that we know is possible. Thank you Hillary Clinton, thank you Unity, and may God Bless the United States of America.