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Obama eager to campaign with McCain PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 12 May 2008

Reuters, Bend, Oregon - Acting even more like he has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama said on Saturday he would be willing to campaign jointly with Republican John McCain and acknowledged he needed to better introduce himself to Americans.

After a stop at a solar technology company in this central Oregon town, Obama was asked if he supported a suggestion that he campaign with McCain and hold joint town hall meetings in the run-up to the November general election.

"I think that's a great idea. Obviously we'd have to think through the logistics on this," Obama said. "Should I be the nominee, if I have the opportunity to debate substantive issues before the voters with John McCain, that's something I'm going to welcome."

Obama, who took a commanding lead in the Democratic race last week, said he looked forward to pointing out his differences with McCain, including views on the energy crisis, the Iraq war and health care.

"In a contest between myself and John McCain there is going to be a very clear choice on policy," he said. "I think this is going to be a very concrete contest around very specific plans for how we improve the lives of Americans and our vision for the future and that's a debate that I'm going to welcome."

McCain, who held unusual "dual town hall" style meetings with former Democratic White House hopeful Bill Bradley in the 2000 election, would not commit.

"John McCain has repeatedly encouraged these types of appearances with his opponents in the past, but in order to extend all due respect to Senator Clinton, we will look forward to welcoming the arrangements when the Democrats have actually chosen their nominee," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

Although in campaign rallies over the past two days Obama has been speaking mainly about McCain, he too was quick to note that the grueling battle against rival Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination was not yet over.

"We haven't finished this primary yet so it's premature to start projecting how the general election's going to play out," he said at the news conference. But he said Democrats must ensure they unify the party after the nomination battle is settled in order to beat McCain in November.

"I want to go into the general election ... with the party unified and ready to take on what I think is a wrong-headed vision of where the country should go," he said.


Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said he realized he must make sure Americans knew who he was and what he stood for as he moves toward the general election.

"The American people are busy. They got a lot of stuff going on," he said.

"I think they have a sense of who I am, but I'm applying for the most challenging job on the face of the planet and I expect that I'm going to have to continually describe to the American people who I am, where I come from, what shaped my character and how I intend to lead this country."

Obama received a rousing welcome from about 2,000 cheering supporters packed into a high school gym in Bend. He urged them to vote for him in the state's May 20 nominating contest.

Clinton was in New York on Saturday and appeared at a "Mother's Day Celebration" fund-raiser with daughter Chelsea. The New York senator and former first lady, who has lent her campaign more than $11 million of her own funds, is struggling financially to keep her battle afloat.

Obama has been picking up the support of more and more "superdelegates" -- the group of nearly 800 party leaders and elected officials not bound by state-by-state nominating contests who are free to back any candidate at the Democratic convention in August.

The support of superdelegates has become critical as neither candidate can clinch the nomination without them.

"They are looking forward to resolving this contest as soon as we can so we can pivot and start talking about John McCain and the general election and our positive unified vision for where we want to take the country," Obama said.

With just 217 pledged delegates at stake in the final six primary contests, Clinton has no realistic chance of overtaking Obama's lead in pledged delegates won in the state-by-state battles that began in January.

Clinton is expected to do well in the next election in West Virginia on Tuesday and in the vote in Kentucky on May 20. The nominating contest in Oregon, also on May 20, favors Obama who has been campaigning across the state over the past two days.

An MSNBC count gives Obama about 155 more delegates than Clinton but he is still about 165 delegates short of the 2,025 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.

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