Clinton Obama Unity In Unity: Are Wounds Too Profound To Heal?
It was an event that had “media hype” written all over it before the words “media hype” could be written: Democratic presumptive Presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama met former rival Sen. Hillary Clinton in Unity, N.H. for a show of…party unity.
On the surface, reports indicate it was a great event and could provide the beginning of party unity.
But some reports suggest lingering feelings from the primary campaign would have made it more accurate if a city named Grudge, N.H. existed and had been available.
And if reported grudges from Clinton supporters prevail, then if Obama loses and Clinton tries to run in 2012 she may have to hold her first event in Truth or Consequences, N.M since Obama supporters will probably battle her every inch of the way due to comments from some Clinton supporters indicating they won’t work for Obama.
First, here’s the event as Obama (who needs Clinton’s support) and Clinton (who needs Obama to help her pay off a whopping campaign debt that’s actually worse than a tankful of gas) would like to see it portrayed, via the New York Times:
Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton set off on their maiden political voyage on Friday, trading their rivalry from the presidential primary battle for a newfound display of harmony intended to set a fresh tone for any Democrats still harboring bitterness from their grueling duel.
It was a day of choreographed unity — their destination was a rally here in this small western New Hampshire town — with the two senators appearing together before the cameras for the first time. Three weeks after suspending her campaign, Mrs. Clinton renewed her endorsement and pledged to do all she could to help Democrats win the White House in the fall.
“Unity is not only a beautiful place, it’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?” Mrs. Clinton said. “I know what we start here in this field of unity will end on the steps of the Capitol when Barack Obama takes the oath of office.”
Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton strode onto an outdoor stage here, arm-in-arm, waving to a friendly crowd. Their messages complemented one another, as did his blue tie and her blue pantsuit.
“For sixteen months, Senator Clinton and I have shared the stage as rivals,” Mr. Obama said. “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.”
Perhaps Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton now perceive themselves as allies, but ABC reports that at a fundraiser the night before with Clinton fundraisers the mood there of some Clinton supporters was anything but palsy-walsy:
One major Clinton donor described it this way: “This felt like when your mom forces you to go visit your Aunt Ida and she has to pinch your cheeks and you’re sitting there in an uncomfortable suit and you can’t wait to leave.”
But this again raises the question: were the Clinton backers seeking the election of a person who advocated specific policy positions and sought to oust the GOP establishment from power? Or was it all just about electing one person and if that person didn’t get it, the policies and change didn’t matter? From the ABC report, it seems like a segment of the Clinton backers felt the fight was the latter:
Another Clinton-leaning person who was in the room said after the meeting wrapped up that there is still “a lot of anger” toward Obama among Clinton’s wealthiest fans.
“It was pretty bad,” this source said. He said donors were joking that the scene was like “an Irish wake” and that you “could cut the air with a knife” it was so tense in the room.
“He better go back to the internet,” said one donor about the Democratic nominee’s fundraising tactics.
“Most people left there feeling he didn’t connect,” said the person who was in the room. However, when asked if the donors still might write a check to Obama, he conceded that it was entirely possible.
As noted here before, if Obama loses look for fingers to be pointed by some Democrats at Clinton and her backers. It was notable today that there was one big absence: former President Bill Clinton. And by not being there, he sent a message to the Clinton backers who still won’t back Obama. Some will likely take it as what Hillary Clinton “really” thinks.
Still, ABC also had this:
But some Clinton backers told ABC News the evening was a success in that Obama asked the Clinton backers for their support in his race against Republican John McCain and ‘it worked.’
And there was another sign that the Clintons were trying to send signals to their backers: just as Obama wrote a check for Hillary, they wrote a check to Obama, NBC’s Chuck Todd reports:
A day after Obama wrote a $4,600 check to Hillary Clinton, First Read has learned Bill and Hillary Clinton have returned the favor, donating the maximum to the Illinois senator’s campaign, a Clinton spokesperson says.
But the reality is THIS: even though Obama today said Hillary “rocks” some Clinton supporters are not just saying they won’t work for Obama but they’ll work against him.
They could make a difference if it’s a close race and Obama loses, which means two things. The Obama campaign has to try to win them over and defuse the lingering anger. And if the margin is close and it is believed Clinton supporters played a role in defeating Obama they will likely have begun the defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2012 for the Democratic Presidential nomination, if she chooses to run again.
The Internet cuts several ways: it helps raise funds, organize dissent (even against a party nominee), and raise money, but it also leaves a detailed record of who did what — and who didn’t do what…and why.