UNITY, N.H.—When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton finished their pageant of partnership here today, the advance team put "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" on the sound system.
It was nice music, but a little ahead of the game: There is still signing, sealing and delivering to do. They both need to put their money where their mouths, if not their hearts, are now.
Obama can't win without Hillary's (and Bill's) help—or at least her acquiescence. And she will be forever broke unless Obama turns at least part of his cash machine over to the task of bailing her out of debt.
Still, as pageants go, this was a nice one, and a successful one. The Obama campaign bused in a good crowd to this little town, and a goodly number of hard-core Clinton types—most, but not all of them, women—were placed behind the podium so they would be in camera range.
Before the event, Clinton drew a few boos from the crowd. By the time it was over, the whole audience seemed to be cheering for both of them with equal vigor.
The former rivals had just spent about three hours of travel time together on the plane and bus. According to Linda Douglass, the traveling press secretary, the two candidates commiserated with each other about the travails of the road—the bad food and such—and their shared difficulty in dealing with computer and digital technology.
"They were friends before they ran against each other," Douglass pointed out, "and they are becoming friends again."
They are never going to be close personally, it doesn't seem to me, but they don't have to be.
Their speeches tended to concentrate on shared goals as Democrats rather than lavish or detailed personal praise. In fact, there was little of that—the bare minimum. As Obama spoke about Clinton, someone in the crowd shouted, "Hillary rocks!" "Yes," said Obama, "that's what I'm trying to say: Hillary rocks!' Everyone laughed. It was a genuine moment, but not a line Obama had thought of on his own.
Clinton made the case to voters who had supported her, some of whom, she said, were considering voting for Republican John McCain or not voting at all. She asked them to consider what she and Obama had both campaigned for: broad-based health-care coverage, tax cuts for lower- and middle-income Americans, an end to "giveaways" to oil companies, a careful but prompt withdrawal from the war in Iraq.
This wasn't about either of them, the two told the crowd. While the audience might just have been putting on a polite display for Clinton, they went along with the Stevie Wonder theme for the day.