K1179 BC-TB-Obama-Bitter-rival 06-26 0710

Obama: Bitter rivalry behind us: Democrat expects help from Clintons


By John McCormick

Chicago Tribune



Jun. 26--At least in public, Sen. Barack Obama says all the attacks and nasty remarks from a grueling and often contentious 16-month primary campaign have been forgotten.

"I want her campaigning as much as she can," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said Wednesday in Chicago, when asked about his former rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"She, I think, inspired millions of people," he said. "She can be an extraordinarily effective surrogate for me, and the values and ideals that we share as Democrats."

After a private meeting here with business leaders from across the nation, Obama answered questions for about 40 minutes at a Michigan Avenue hotel, including several about the Clintons.

He said he believes Hillary Clinton can help his campaign, including in New Hampshire, where the two are expected to appear together Friday in the tiny town of Unity.

"We can send Sen. Clinton anywhere, and she’ll be effective," he said. "I’m looking forward to campaigning vigorously with her."

For now, Obama said he has only asked his top donors to contribute to Clinton’s multimillion-dollar campaign debt, saying he has not tapped his massive database of small donors because they are on tighter budgets.

"Frankly, it probably wouldn’t be that effective in terms of making a big dent in Sen. Clinton’s debt," he said.


Obama said he also is not concerned that he has not yet received a more full-throated endorsement from Clinton’s husband, the former president.

"If the question is, do I want Bill Clinton campaigning for us for the ticket leading into November, the answer is absolutely yes," he said. "I want him involved. He is a brilliant politician."

Obama vigorously defended his brand, arguing that his recent decision to reject public financing and its spending limits will not hurt his image as a candidate of change.

"The overwhelming bulk of the 1.7 million donors that we get money from are ordinary Americans, not fat cats," he said.

That point brought a rebuttal from Sen. John McCain’s campaign.

"His arrogant refusal to concede that he broke his word to the American people either shows that he is unable to admit the facts or that he believes Americans aren’t smart enough to recognize typical politics when they see it," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said.

Obama, meanwhile, criticized one of McCain’s top aides for suggesting that a terrorist attack might politically benefit the likely Republican nominee.

"Using the specter of a terrorist attack as a political angle to be exploited is not what the American people are looking for," he said.


In addition, Obama criticized the Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday overturning the death penalty for a child rapist. "I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes," he said. "I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime, and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances, the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that that does not violate our Constitution."

Obama has frequently cited the near-abolishment of the death penalty in Illinois as one of his top legislative accomplishments.

McCain also disagreed with the ruling. "Today’s Supreme Court ruling is an assault on law enforcement’s efforts to punish these heinous felons for the most despicable crime," he said. "That there is a judge anywhere in America who does not believe that the rape of a child represents the most heinous of crimes, which is deserving of the most serious of punishments, is profoundly disturbing."

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