Not Forced at All

Here’s the pool report describing the moments before Bill Clinton and Barack Obama met behind closed doors. It includes the following line: “There was no handshake and your pooler did not see the two actually look at each other There was a brief Q&A.”

Pool report

Brief comments from Sen. Obama and former President Bill Clinton during photo spray before their lunch

Barack Obama & accompanying motorcade left the Parker Meridien just before 11:15 a.m. and drove up Madison Ave. to the offices of the William J. Clinton Foundation at 55 W. 125th Street, on top (14th) floor of an office building on the main thoroughfare of Harlem.

The lunch menu, according to the campaign, was a choice of sandwiches and flatbread pizza from Cosi, plus salad. Beverages were not specified but were believed likely to be Diet Coke (President Clinton) and ice tea (Barack Obama).

The pool was ushered into President Clinton’s office shortly before 1 p.m. The large office, with a view of Central Park from the north, is furnished with a desk, sofa-chair-coffee table grouping, bookshelves and loads of photographs and memorabilia. The two men were standing in front of the sofa and chair, by the coffee table and appeared to be discussing traffic. President Clinton was heard to say, “It usually takes me about five minutes to get here’’ though from where was unclear.

There was no handshake and your pooler did not see the two actually look at each other There was a brief Q&A.

President Clinton was asked when he will hit the campaign trail for Sen. Obama.

“I’m going out there as soon as my global initiative is over.’’

Sen. Obama added, “We’re putting him to work.’’

Q from Nedra: “Will you be out frequently?”

“I’ve agreed to do a substantial number of things. Whatever I’m asked to do.’’

Q from Richard Wolffe What do you think of the state of the race?

President Clinton: “I predict that Sen. Obama will win and win handily.’’

Sen. Obama: “There you go. You can take it from the President of the United States. He knows a little something about politics.’’

At this the pool was escorted out. As we left President Clinton and Barack Obama moved over to the coffee table and President Clinton began describing the framed photographs on it to Sen. Obama.

The Obama campaign also released a statement afterward from the offices of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. It notes that, in addition to talking about “how the world has changed since September 11, 2001,” they “also spoke about what the next President can do to help make the economy work for all Americans, as it did under President Clinton.” Not Forced at All