June 28, 2008

To Unify Party, Dem Rivals Reconcile in Unity


UNITY, N.H. - Declaring that Hillary Clinton rocks, Barack Obama formally buried the hatchet with his Democrat rival before 4,000 wildly cheering supporters, and the two once-bitter foes pledged to take back the White House for their party.

"It's fitting that we meet in a place called Unity," Obama said. "Because the truth is, that's the only way we can solve the problems facing this country."

There were no lingering signs of the vicious campaign fight the two waged for a year and a half.

"We have gone toe-to-toe in this primary, but today and from this day forward we stand shoulder to shoulder," she said.

The throngs of Democrats turned out in a sun-splashed field at the town's only elementary school to witness the historic meeting between the two former rivals. Sporting a crisp, white dress shirt and blue tie that matched Clinton's pant suit, Obama echoed a supporter's shouted sentiment that "Hillary rocks."

"She rocks," Obama agreed, smiling.

He praised Clinton's "grace and aplomb" and her work to break down gender biases while Clinton said together they are "an unstoppable force for change."

Security was tight, and Secret Service officers screened everyone who entered the event. Heat was an issue as firefighters reported at least a half dozen people fainted and were rushed to the hospital. The rural location also proved to be a problem as supporters were forced to wait in long lines for buses to take them to satellite parking lots 30 minutes away.

Still, it was a jubilant atmosphere as excited Obama-maniacs displayed their adoration for the senators via T-shirts and signs. A guitarist played songs by Arlo Guthrie and Louis Armstrong while a rock band played Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World."

Al Pechulis, 57, who traveled from Medfield to see the pols make up, said: "It's nice to move on."

He added that he doesn't think Clinton should be Obama's vice- presidential candidate, saying, "Barack Obama is about change, and she's kind of the same old."

Pechulis' friend, Alan Willis, 58, of Buzzards Bay, added: "It's wonderful we've got unity. It's a very symbolic event."

Obama spoke of the difficult primary fight and the hurdles he and Clinton have faced - he as the nation's first black presidential nominee, she as the first serious female candidate.

"This campaign has shown us how far we have to go, it's also shown how far we've come," he said. "If you are willing to join me and join Hillary Clinton . . . if you are willing to organize and mobilize, then we are not going to just change this country, we will change the world."

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CAPTION: FAITHFUL FLOCK: Thousands of devoted Democrats made the long trek to attend a rally with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton yesterday in Unity, N.H. At left, attendees in a hay field watch the event from afar. STAFF PHOTOS BY PATRICK WHITTEMORE

Originally published by By DAVE WEDGE.

(c) 2008 Boston Herald. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.