A place called Unity

On Friday, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made their first public campaign appearance together, in a place laden with symbolism.

Published June 27, 2008 6:40PM (EDT)

Friday afternoon, in front of a crowd of about 6,000 in a tiny New Hampshire town whose population is only a quarter of that, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came together, publicly, for the first time.

Everything about the event seemed put together to symbolize the day's message -- the two former rivals even wore matching colors. And they held this event in a town called Unity, something Clinton referred to at the very beginning of her speech. "Well, Unity is not only a beautiful place, as we can see. It's a wonderful feeling, isn't it?" Clinton said. "And I know what we start here in this field in Unity will end on the steps of the Capitol, when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president."

Clinton spoke of her support for Obama, and made a call for her supporters to get behind him and not -- as a minority have very publicly threatened to do -- sit the election out or even vote for the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain. "We may have started on separate paths, but, today, our paths have merged," Clinton said, continuing:

Today, our hearts are set on the same destination for America. Today, we are coming together for the same goal: to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States...

Now, Senator McCain and the Republicans may have hoped that we wouldn't join forces like this. They may have wished that we wouldn't stand united to fight this battle with everything we've got.

But I've got news for them: We are one party; we are one America; and we are not going to rest until we take back our country and put it once again on the path to peace, prosperity, and progress in the 21st century...

And to anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider. I urge you to remember who we are standing for in this election... [T]hat's why I'm standing with Senator Obama today, because I know he'll work for you, he'll fight for you, and he'll stand up for you every single day in the White House.

When Obama spoke, following Clinton, he was similarly filled with praise for his one-time opponent. "I could not be happier, and more honored, and more moved that we're sharing this stage as allies to bring about the fundamental changes that this country so desperately needs," Obama said.

Obama also made a distinct nod toward Bill Clinton, who is reportedly still upset with how he feels he was treated by the Obama campaign. "I know how much we need both Bill and Hillary Clinton as a party and as a country in the months and years to come," Obama said. "We need them. We need them badly, not just my campaign, but the American people need their service, and their vision, and their wisdom."

He also referenced, as some Clinton supporters have wanted him to do, the sometimes sexist attacks that Clinton had faced during the primary, saying:

When Hillary Clinton gets up in the morning, even in the face of the toughest odds, the most vicious attacks, she is doing so with the same motivation that took her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago, the same passion that led her to work for the Children's Defense Fund and caused her to fight for health care as first lady.

Obama's speech was summed up by one person in the crowd, who shouted "Hillary rocks!" Obama responded, "She rocks. She rocks. That's the point I'm trying to make."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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