Pool Report From Clinton-Obama Event at the Mayflower
Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama went before about 200 of the New York Senator's top fundraisers at Washington's Mayflower Hotel, an event that was described as emotional by participants and served as the prelude to their public appearance together in Unity, New Hampshire, tomorrow.
Among the highlights: Obama told the gathering he had personally written a check for $2,300 to help retire her campaign debt of more than $20 million and urged his top donors to do the same, drawing a standing ovation from the Clinton backers. The full pool report, from the Post's own Shailagh Murray, follows after the jump.
Quick summary: The 30-minute event was emotional and upbeat. Both candidates warmly received, generous to each other, and very focused on winning. About 200 people attended. Partial guest list below.
Also, before the event, your pooler witnessed Obama finance committee chair Penny Pritzker writing a $4,600 check from her and her husband to help retire Clinton's debt. "We're helping. It's important," Pritzker said, on her way into the ballroom.
The M.C. for the night was Terry McAuliffe. As Clinton walked on stage, followed by Obama, Clinton's money man pointed out that the group had collectively raised $230 million for Clinton's campaign. Congratulating Obama, McAuliffe rallied the troops one last time, "This, folks, was a magnificent race...This party is on fire."Â
Turning back to Clinton, McAuliffe said she has a great future, "no matter what she does. If she wants to become pope, it doesn't matter."
Obama and McAuliffe embraced and joked as Clinton moved up to the podium. She started by knocking down the pope idea: "First, I'd have to become Catholic, and second, we don't want to go there."
Clinton profusely thanked her supporters for "what you each have done over so many years. I look out and I see faces of people who have been friends and colleagues and warriors at arms on so many different occasions."
She lamented that the party had only won three of the last 10 presidential elections. "That is a sobering thought," she said, adapting her electability argument from the primary campaign. "For me this is intensely personal, because I want to see our country once again not just solving problems, which sounds very pragmatic, but lifting up our sights and finding the promise of our country by once again producing the progress that is truly the American birthright. It has slipped away from us."
She recalled her many months on the campaign trail - the countless people she had met, and all of their struggles. Obama stood next to her, looking on as Clinton spoke. "We have to make it a priority in our lives to elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States," Clinton said, to sustained applause.
"This was a hard-fought campaign," she continued. "That's what made it so exciting and intense and why people's passions ran so high on both sides. I know my supporters have extremely strong feelings, and I know Barack's do as well. But we are a family, and we have an opportunity now to really demonstrate clearly we do know what's at stake, and we will do whatever it takes to win back this White House."
"Here here!" a man shouted, to more robust applause.
Clinton acknowledged Reps. Sheila Jackson-Lee and Stephanie Tubbs Jones, two of her most prominent and devoted African American supporters. Someone pointed out that Rep. Anthony Weiner was in the room as well.
And then she wrapped up with this: "Let me, to my friends, and you are all my friends, I am just so intensely grateful to each and every one of you. We have a lot of work to do, going forward, not only the election, but once the election is over, to making sure we ralize all the benfits that this election can and should bring to our country. So let me introduce my friend Sen. Barack Obama to my friends, all of these wonderful people who have met so much to me in my life."
Next it was Obama's turn, and he told two stories about his family to "illustrate the extraordinary nature of (Clinton's) public service, and extraordinary nature of her campaign."
One was the familiar tale of Obama's maternal grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line during World War II, but who never went to college because she didn't qualify for the G.I. bill -- yet rose from bank secretary to bank vice president.
He talked to her frequently during the primary season, and obviously "she was rooting for her grandson," Obama said. But she also complained that Clinton wasn't getting a fair shake. "When I see that instinct of hers to fight on behalf of those who need a champion, she reminds me a little of me," Obama's grandmother told him. He said the story illustrated "the ability of Hillary Clinton to inspire passion on behalf of those who have been left out in the past."
Then he told of being surprised that his 9-year-old daughter Malia had been well aware of the historic nature of the Clinton-Obama duel. Her father, she knew, could be the first African American president. But she also observed that Clinton could be the first woman. "Then she said, it's about time, and rolled over and went to bed," Obama said.
As the laughter died down, he continued, "between my grandmother's generation and my young daughter, there's a testimony to the challenges that are hard won and hard fought. To the point that my 9-year-old takes for granted that of course we can have a woman president. Of course we can have an African-American president. But that doesn't come just by the passage of time. It comes because people are consistently working and fighting."
Like Clinton, he recalled the many struggling people he has met on the campaign trail. He said of his former rival, "It was an extraordinary honor to be alongside her during the course of this campaign. It was an extraordinary test." Her recognized "her tenacity, her fighting spirit. I am a better candidate as a consequence of having run against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Obama continued, "I recognize that this room shared the same passion that a roomful of my supporters would show. I do not expect that passion to be transferred. Sen. Cinton is unique, and your relationships with her are unique." But he added, "Sen. Clinton and I at our core agree deeply that this country needs to change."
Finally, at the end of his remarks, Obama made a direct appeal for support. "I'm going to need Hillary by my side campaigning during his election, and I'm going to need all of you." He recounted how he had told his top fundraisers this week "to get out their checkbooks and start working to make sure Sen. Clinton -- the debt that's out there needs to be taken care of."
And that, folks, was the night's big applause line. In vowing to help pay off Clinton's debt, Obama won a standing ovation.
June 26, 2008; 9:50 PM ET
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