Unity in Unity from Obama and Clinton

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Rivals turned allies, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton made a show of unity today in a hamlet named for it, their first joint public appearance since the divisive Democratic primary race ended.

Some 6,0000 people were gathered to watch in one of the wide-open fields of the tiny town of 1,700. It's a carefully chosen venue in a key general election battleground state: Unity awarded exactly 107 votes to each candidate in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary in January.

"Hello, Unity! Hello, New Hampshire!" Clinton said as she and Obama took the stage together. "Well, Unity is not only a beautiful place as we can see, it's a wonderful feeling isn't it? And I know when we start here in this field in unity, we'll end on the steps of the Capitol when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president."

As she spoke from a podium, Obama, the Democrat who is competing against Republican John McCain, sat next to her on a stool, coatless with his white shirt sleeves rolled up.

Clinton noted that the Arizona senator and the Republican Party probably hoped she would not join forces with Obama.

"But I've got news for them: We are one party, we are one America and we are not going to rest until we take back our country and put it once again on the path to peace, prosperity and progress in the 21st century," Clinton said to cheers.

She encouraged her supporters to join with his "to create an unstoppable force for change we can all believe in." She noted she's had a "front-row seat" to Obama's candidacy and praised "his grace and his grit."

Both Democrats need one another right now as they move to the next phase of the campaign.

Obama is depending on the former first lady to give her voters and donors a clear signal that she does not consider it a betrayal for them to shift their loyalty his way. Clinton won convincingly among several voter groups during the primaries, including working class voters and older women — groups that McCain has actively courted since she left the race.

Clinton, for her part, needs the Illinois senator's help in paying down $10 million of her campaign debt, plus an assurance that she will be treated respectfully as a top surrogate on the campaign trail and at the Democratic Party convention later this summer.

Pressing Obama's case from the start, Clinton said McCain offered nothing more than a continuation of President George W. Bush's policies.

"In the end, Senator McCain and President Bush are like two sides of the same coin, and it doesn't amount to a whole lot of change," Clinton said. "If you think we need a new course, a new agenda, then vote for Barack Obama and you will get the change that you need and deserve."

She addressed any of her backers who are considering not voting or voting for McCain instead of Obama: "I strongly urge you to reconsider."

"I know that he'll work for you. He'll fight for you, and he'll stand up for you every single day in the White House," Clinton said, calling Obama "a leader who invests in our future."