After an article in the Telegraph reported that Bill Clinton said Obama had to come to him to ask for support in the general election (as well as a less euphemistic way of putting it) things didn't look promising for a Bill Clinton-Barack Obama rapprochement.
However, as usual, Barack Obama has the right instincts and political know-how. He made a call to Bill today after landing in Missouri for a campaign stop. During the 20-minute conversation, which both sides reported was cordial, Obama asked Clinton to campaign both with him and on his own. A spokesman for Clinton confirmed that Clinton renewed his offer to do whatever he could to make sure Obama wins the election.
This was an important step in unifying the Democrats and a wise move on Obama's part. After this bitter primary battle, some Obama supporters have felt that he can do without Bill Clinton's support - "who needs him anyway?" - but Obama knows better. He knows he needs Bill Clinton.
From what I've seen so far, Obama has learned from the mistakes that were made in the past by previous Democratic contenders and seems determined not to repeat them. To this day many people wonder whether Al Gore would have won the election in 2000 (decisively enough so the Supreme Court decision would have been unnecessary) if he had had Bill Clinton campaign for him. But he spurned his help and this may have contributed to his loss. Obama won't make that same mistake.
Another thing he has learned - probably from Kerry's campaign - is not to allow rumors or smears to stick. Today he made sure to refute the rumors that he is not patriotic, at an event in Independence, Missouri.
"...Mr. Obama traveled Monday to Independence, Mo., to proclaim his patriotism in an appearance linked to the Fourth of July holiday. He defended Americans’ right to differ with the majority, in a speech that traced a history of dissent going back to Jefferson. And he tried yet again to beat back persistent rumors, kept alive by conservative blogs and the rumor mill, that he is less than a true patriot.
'The question of who is or is not a patriot all too often poisons our political debates, in ways that divide us rather than bring us together,' Mr. Obama said. “We can no longer afford these kinds of divisions.'"
I think Barack Obama knows how to win this election. I just hope he will stick to his principles while he does it, and afterward.
Given some of his recent positions, such as his response to the issue of the death penalty for child rapists, there is reason for concern.
However, his tough stance on the death penalty for child rapists may just be another lesson he learned from another Democratic presidential campaign that failed. Remember when Michael Dukakis was asked in a debate how he would stand on the death penalty if someone raped and murdered his wife Kitty? Obama is no fool; he learned his lessons well.