- Barack Obama - Hillary Clinton - USA
Former White House foes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton stood united in Unity Friday to bury their differences in public and urge Democrats of every faction to take back America.
The senators paid each other fulsome tribute at their first joint rally, in speeches that were heavy on the need for reconciliation and laced with humorous asides about their bruising fight for the Democratic nomination.
"I am proud to call her a friend and I know how much we need both Bill and Hillary Clinton as a party and as a country in the months and years to come," Obama told the crowd in the tiny, and aptly named, New Hampshire town of Unity.
"We need them, we need them badly -- not just my campaign, but the American people need their service and their vision and their wisdom," said the Illinois senator, 46.
"For 16 months, Senator Clinton and I have shared the stage as rivals for the nomination," he said after sharing a chartered flight from Washington to New Hampshire with the former first lady, 60.
"But today, I could not be happier, and more honored, and more moved that we're sharing this stage as allies to bring about the fundamental changes that this country so desperately needs."
While former president Bill Clinton has given only tepid backing to Obama, his wife upbraided any of her disaffected supporters who may be considering a vote for Republican John McCain in November's election.
Both the Clintons made a financial gesture of unity by each donating the maximum legal limit of 2,300 dollars to the Obama campaign, aides said, after Obama gave the same amount to help retire her whopping campaign debts.
Clinton drew laughs for remarking, with considerable understatement, that her bitter five-month primary fight with Obama had generated "spirited dialogue."
However, the New York senator said that from pulling out of the Iraq war to guaranteeing universal healthcare, the choice could not be starker.
"But in the end, after eight devastating years under President (George W.) Bush, Senator McCain is simply offering four years more," Clinton said.
"In the end, Senator McCain and President Bush are like two sides of the same coin, and it doesn't amount to a whole lot of change."
"But if you think we need a new course, a new agenda, then vote for Barack Obama and you will get the change that you and we need and deserve," she said to sustained applause from a crowd put by police at more than 4,000 people.
"And I know what we start here in this field in Unity will end on the steps of the Capitol when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president," Clinton added.
But McCain supporter Jane Swift, a former acting governor for Massachusetts, muscled in to denounce Obama as all words.
The event in Unity "made me wish that Senator Obama had actually worked as hard to bridge the partisan divide in Washington DC during his short time there, as he is working hard apparently to bridge the divide in his own party with Hillary Clinton voters," she said.
The senators came to Unity, where each candidate scored exactly 107 votes in January's New Hampshire primary, after they attended a private meeting with Clinton's top fundraisers late Thursday in Washington's Mayflower Hotel.