TAMPA—Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stood together behind a podium as another enormous crowd for the Democratic nominee chanted “Yes We Can” over and over again at an outdoor rally in Orlando on the afternoon of Oct. 20.
“Not only that,” Clinton interrupted the nearly 50,000 supporters. “Yes we will!”
Her version didn’t catch on, just as it didn’t during the end of the primaries, when she adopted it as a last-ditch riposte to Obama’s. But besides some recycled lines from her protracted battle against Obama, there was little reminder of the strained past between the two Democrats and Clinton enthusiastically made the case for Obama on the stump.
She told the crowd to inform any voters still undecided about who to vote for that “Hillary sent you” and to tell them to “vote for Barack Obama.”
She urged those in the crowd who hadn’t yet voted early to do so, because she said “now is the time to close the deal for Barack Obama.” (Her campaign’s biggest criticism of Obama in the primary was that he was incapable of closing the deal.) She added later that the country needed to be turned around. “A Democratic president did it before and a Democratic president will do it again,” she said.
While Clinton, dressed in a dark blue pantsuit, delivered her fiery speech, Obama, dressed in white shirt and black slacks, crossed his arms and looked on approvingly. He clapped and smiled when she told the crowd what was most important was “jobs baby jobs.” (That answered Sarah Palin’s call to“drill baby drill.” Months ago, when Palin seemed a threat rather than a punch line, there was some desire among Obama’s top brass for Clinton to take a harder line against Palin. She wasn’t inclined to.)
Now, with Obama leading in polls around the country, Clinton delivered a speech that appealed to both the reason and anger of Democratic voters in Florida, which chose her in an uncontested primary. She argued that the economic policies proposed by the Democrats would better help them through the financial crisis, but also squarely put the blame for that crisis on the shoulders of George Bush, and said that Floridians should do whatever they could to make sure Republicans lose the White House.
“Many of you supported me in the primary,” she said towards the end of her speech, “and I am very grateful and very appreciative to each and every one of you.” Now, she said, she was asking them “to work as hard for Barack as you did for me.”
She stepped back and Obama stepped up to the podium.
He immediately expressed his appreciation to her.
“The main thing I want to do is I want to thank Hillary Clinton,” he said, moments before actually chanting “Hill-a-ry,” “Hill-a-ry,” “Hill-a-ry.”
He said they had been on the same historic journey together and that through all the debated he has learned how tough she was and “I have learned from her as a candidate.”
He said they were friends.
Then he went into his stump speech, peppering his usual lines with references to Clinton. When he said that the Republicans would say and do anything in the campaign’s last days, he added, “We’ve seen it before, Hillary’s been subjected to it before.” (Of course in the last days of the primary campaign, it was Clinton who talked about Obama’s associations with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright to the electorate. In a way that helped though, because by the general election it seemed like old news.)
Clinton nodded while he talked about the increase in foreclosures and shook her head when he talked about McCain’s plan. When Obama proposed a moratorium on foreclosures, he gave Clinton her credit, saying, “Hillary’s been talking about this for a long time.”
Later in his speech, the crowd started chanting “jobs baby jobs.”
Obama put his hand on Clinton’s shoulder and said, ‘I think we’ve started something.”