- Bill Clinton - Democrats (USA) - USA - vote
Former president Bill Clinton gave terse backing to Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama Tuesday, as his wife returned to politics for the first time since her agonizing primary defeat.
Timed to coincide with Senator Hillary Clinton's reappearance in Congress, Bill Clinton issued a one-sentence statement through his spokesman to put a lid on months of fireworks on the party's nominating campaign trail.
"President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama is the next president of the United States," spokesman Matt McKenna said.
After their bruising primary fight, the Democrats say they must unite to maximize their chances of success against Republican John McCain in November's presidential election.
But Bill Clinton chose not to declare his allegiance to Obama in public, and he is not scheduled to speak at the first joint campaign rally between his wife and the nominee on Friday, in the aptly named New Hampshire town of Unity.
Bill Clinton was the fiercest partisan of his wife's failed shot at the Democratic nomination, and frequently lashed out as the African-American Obama built up unstoppable momentum against the Democrats' first couple.
The former president dismissed Obama's opposition to the Iraq war as a "fairytale," and appeared to belittle Obama's triumph with black voters in January's South Carolina primary.
Bill Clinton was tight-lipped on June 7, when his wife gave a rousing concession speech and promised to work all-out for Obama. The former first lady later insisted she was "not seeking" the vice presidency.
The Illinois senator and his former rival spoke Sunday to discuss how the new Democratic standard-bearer could liaise with Bill Clinton in future, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.
"A unified Democratic Party is going to be a powerful force for change this year and we're confident president Clinton will play a big role in that," he said.
Hillary Clinton, attending a luncheon with her Democratic Senate colleagues, was greeted by staffers and well-wishers as she made a high-profile entrance at the steps of Congress rather than via one of Capitol Hill's discreet tunnels.
On Thursday, after addressing a conference of Latino politicians, Clinton is scheduled to introduce Obama to a private meeting of her leading fundraisers at a Washington hotel.
Clinton drummed home the message of unity Monday as she posted a video on her website, appealing for donors to help pay down her campaign debts of 22.5 million dollars -- half of which she lent to the campaign herself.
"Together we made history and I will continue to work toward our common goal of building an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us," Clinton said in the video.
"This goal is shared by our Democratic Party nominee, Senator Barack Obama, and I look forward to campaigning with him across this great country of ours," she said.
At an event with working mothers in New Mexico Monday, Obama said he wanted all American girls including his two daughters to "truly have the same opportunities as our sons."
"Standing here today, I know that we have drawn closer to making this America a reality because of the extraordinary woman who I shared a stage with so many times throughout this campaign -- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"And in the months and years ahead, I look forward to working with her to make progress on the issues that matter to American women and to all American families -- healthcare and education, support for working parents and an insistence on equality," he said.