By Karin Caifa in Washington
June 20, 2008
Yesterday, in one of those long email chains where a group of friends debate when and where to go to dinner, my friend suggested a barbecue place called Rockland's in the Virginia suburbs, adding the line, "I heard Hillary's campaign would swear by this place." "Hillary," of course, being former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. And while we were willing to go along with Clinton's endorsement of wood-fired barbecue chow, the verdict is still out on whether her endorsement of Barack Obama will be as readily accepted.
The Obama campaign announced today that the two former rivals will campaign together for the first time next Friday. The news follows word this week that they'll hold a finance meeting here in Washington next Thursday, where Clinton is expected to introduce Obama to many of her top donors.
But even two weeks after Clinton exited their contentious race, it presents a delicate situation for Obama. Many Obama supporters resent Clinton for staying in the primary fight too long. At a Detroit rally Monday night, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm noted that she was now in, "with both feet," for Sen. Barack Obama despite supporting Clinton in the primaries. The mention of Clinton was met with loud boos. Obama later calmed the crowd by making a statement he's made during several post-primary speeches. "She's tough. That's why this race took so long," he said. "She's a fighter, and we need fighters in the Democratic party, because we have a lot to fight for."
Similarly, some Clinton supporters are hesitant to follow their candidate's endorsement. Obama made headway on making amends with former Clinton supporters this week. He met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus who did not endorse him. He sat down with a roundtable of Democratic governors, including those like Ohio's Ted Strickland and Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell who delivered their state's primaries for Clinton. And he received the backing of the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, who not only endorsed Clinton during the primaries, but gave her a pair of reed boxing gloves to boot.
But they say that actions speak louder than words, so it's worth noting that Clinton has not yet called on her delegates to throw their support behind Obama. Also notably, her husband and former president has not yet backed the party's presumptive nominee either. We'll see how things go next Friday, but it looks like the Democrats still have a lot of work to do regarding party unity. Maybe they can work it out over a nice dinner.