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Democrats Join to Tout Obama, Bash McCain

With a long and divisive primary fight finally behind them, the bulk of the national Democratic leadership joined forces today to tout the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and to bash Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- in noticeably strong terms. At the same time, Obama took a key step toward reaching out to Clinton supporters and raising money for his party's congressional candidates.

Obama sent out an e-mail solicitation today on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asking for unity -- and cash. "Hillary Clinton was very gracious in offering her support to my campaign over the weekend," Obama wrote. "I admire her and her supporters for their hard work, courage, and tenacity. And I'm grateful for everything they've done to build our party. But the battle ahead of us will be unlike anything we've ever faced, and it's going to demand unprecedented focus and resources. We need to unite as Democrats, not just to defeat John McCain in the general election, but also to support Democratic candidates at every level of office in every part of the country."

Meanwhile, party leaders lined up three-deep behind the podium in a packed room at Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill this afternoon, with DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) taking top billing along with West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. Dean began with an expression of gratitude toward Clinton for her contributions to the party, and he added a dollop of media criticism.

"This has been a transformational election for Democrats," Dean said, citing the party's huge turnout and increased voter registration during the primaries. He acknowledged that "this has been a very hard-fought race. At times there have been some bitter disagreements, and some ugly moments in the campaign as well. [On] the blogosphere and the airwaves, emotions have run high, heated discussions at times have led to sexist comments, particularly by some members of the media. And there have been racist remarks as well. We know that those comments have no place in our society and no place in our party."

Dean, the author of the DNC's sometimes controversial 50-state strategy, welcomed today's announcement by Obama's campaign that, like the DNC, it would deploy paid campaign staff to every state in the union. "Sen. Obama has said he wants to run a 50-state campaign and we're ready for that at the DNC," Dean said, adding, "Barack Obama is a candidate who will go anywhere in America and help our ticket."

Dean also repeated the new Democratic mantra that a McCain victory would lead to a third Bush term, ticking off the issues on which McCain and Bush agree. Reid was more blunt in his criticism of the Arizonan.

"We have as the Republican nominee a flawed candidate," Reid said. "His temperament is wrong. He's wrong on the war. He's wrong on the economy."

Obama, by contrast, inspired Reid to make a baseball analogy. "This man can run the bases. He hits for the long ball. He's really good at picking out singles. He's somebody that is a team player," Reid said.

Manchin, who hails from a state where Clinton beat Obama soundly and where McCain currently leads the general election polls, said he and his fellow governors were "all totally committed" to making Obama president. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Patty Murray (Wash.), both of whom backed Clinton, made essentially the same statement.

Obama certainly hasn't had any problem raising money, banking far more cash than either Clinton or McCain so far. The DNC hasn't fared as well, trailing the Republican National Committee badly so far this cycle. But Dean expressed confidence that dynamic would soon change. "Now that we have a nominee, we're not going to have any trouble raising money whatsoever," he said.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 10, 2008; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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