Opinion: Barack Obama seeks more than unity in Unity today

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Deciding to hold the public premiere of the revamped Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton road show in a New Hampshire town named Unity -- following Thursday night’s private showing of the new act in Washington -- was a cute touch.

It also was a nice nod to Clinton by Obama to have the pair pledge their newfound fealty to each other in the state where she scored perhaps her most stirring primary win.

But symbolism and sentimentality aside, today’s event is an early gambit in what should be a protracted and intense effort by the Obama camp to keep New Hampshire in the Democratic column this November.

The state’s four electoral votes were among the 251 John Kerry won in 2004. Of all those he carried, New Hampshire may prove the most challenging for Obama to hold onto. John McCain long has treated the state like a second home, and in the eyes of many of its voters he enjoys folk-hero status.


But if Obama can win it and all the other Kerry states, his path to the 270 electoral votes needed to move into the White House can forego the two locales that broke Democratic hearts in the last two elections -- Florida and Ohio.

For instance, if he keeps Kerry’s 251 electoral votes in the bank, victories for him in Colorado, New Mexico and Iowa -- states President Bush carried in ’04 but where Obama currently looks strong -- gives him 272 electoral votes. But if he fails to pick up any other Bush state and loses little ol’ New Hampshire, McCain occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Clearly, it will be more than a feel-good moment Obama will have on his mind in Unity today.

The improbable spotlight cast upon the town caused New Hampshire newspapers to relate various facts about it. These include:

** With a population of 1,715, it has no traffic lights, post office or hotel.

** First known as Buckingham and incorporated in 1753, it earned its present name 11 years later when a land dispute was settled.

** High-speed Internet availability is nowhere to be found there.

-- Don Frederick