As Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton get ready to appear together at a fund-raiser in Washington Thursday night and at a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday, the two once-bitter rivals seem to be repairing old wounds.
The Times’s Jeff Zeleny reports that on a conference call on Thursday Obama asked his top fund-raisers to help pay off Mrs. Clinton’s sizable campaign debt: “A senior Democrat said tonight that Obama asked, but did not demand, that his leading contributors help pay off debt of more than $11 million for Clinton. It will be done, bit by bit, at chunks of $2,300 or less.”
And, in a far cry from the language of the bruising primary season, Obama said in an interview with CNN on Thursday that Clinton will be “one of my key partners” in the White House and had laudatory words for Bill Clinton as well. For his part, former President Clinton signaled yesterday through his spokesman that he is committed “to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Sen. Obama is the next president of the United States.”
Clinton returned to her Senate duties yesterday, greeted by applause on the Capitol steps. In his coverage of her homecoming, The Times’s Mark Leibovich notes that the “U.S. Senate – the well-paid, perk-laden consolation prize of a day job – also doubles as perhaps the world’s pre-eminent support group for also-ran presidential candidates.”
Campaigning in the Western half of the county (which includes several states to watch closely in the general election) on Thursday, both candidates took swipes at each other over energy policy, The Times’s Michael Powell and Michael Cooper write:
``The electoral energy wars have raged from Florida – where McCain has proposed offshore oil drilling – to California and now Las Vegas. The candidates are trying to define how they would tackle the sharp spiral upward in gasoline prices and its ever more severe impact on the economy, and so far their policy proposals are poles apart.
``McCain emphasizes greatly expanded drilling, offshore and on public lands. And he would revitalize the nearly moribund nuclear power industry, noting that France draws much of its energy from nuclear plants ...
“Obama illustrated the gap between the candidates by giving a speech at a water plant in Las Vegas that laid heavy emphasis on $150 billion worth of alternative energy, including wind and solar power and hoped-for clean coal technology (Obama acknowledged, in response to a question, that he was not ruling out nuclear power, but he strongly suggested it was a distinctly lower priority). He asserted that these investments in technology would yield 5 million new jobs.”
The issue of terrorism remained on the agenda yesterday as the Obama campaign continued to hammer McCain adviser, Charlie Black, who said in a magazine interview that a terrorist attack would be a “big advantage” for McCain. In a political memo, The Times’s Michael Cooper takes a look at the liabilities and benefits of raising the issue – for both parties.
And, Time magazine’s Jay Newton Small reports today on another liability, this one for Obama. She detects a “seasonal shifting of messages” from his presidential campaigns and writes that Obama is going through a “risky metamorphosis” after coming through a difficult primary fight. Here’s an excerpt of her analysis:
``Since becoming the presumptive nominee, nearly every step Obama has taken seems to underline the message that his brand of change is not threatening, or even revolutionary.
‘`His first general election ad, ’Country I Love,' is a 60-second paean to Obama’s Main St. normalcy. In it he extols policies designed to reach across the aisle, such as 'cutting taxes’ and 'moving people from welfare to work.'
``His initial choice of Washington power broker Jim Johnson to run his vice presidential search was also traditional: Johnson had done the same job for John Kerry in 2004 and Walter Mondale in 1984. Unfortunately, Johnson was a little too old-school – his ties to the subprime loan industry forced him to resign.
“The campaign this month released a new roster of foreign policy advisers that includes many old, comforting names from the Clinton years, such as former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher. But in some ways Obama has boxed himself in: In trying to counter criticisms about his experience, he’s brought in a team full of gray-haired advisers who by dint of their long established positions and Washington relationships represent the furthest thing from change.”
The Politico’s Ben Smith interviews Obama deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, who talks about general election strategy, saying that Obama will “focus his resources largely in 14 states George W. Bush won in 2004.”
And Michelle Obama continues to be active on the campaign trail. On Thursday she will headline the Democratic National Committees Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council fund-raiser in New York. Earlier in the day, she travels to New Hampshire to campaign with the states former governor and current Senate candidate, Jeanne Shaheen.
Campaign Trail Roundup:
John McCain delivers an energy speech in Las Vegas, and later, opens his campaign’s Nevada headquarters there and holds a fund-raiser.
Barack Obama hosts a private meeting in Chicago with business leaders followed by a media availability.
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June 25, 8:46 a.m. ET