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Hillary Clinton again does her rhetorical part for Barack Obama

August 26, 2008 |  8:51 pm

DENVER -- For the third time in less than three months, Hillary Clinton played the good soldier. Whether some of her troops choose to follow her lead remains to be seen.

As she did in Washington in early June and again a few weeks later in Unity, N.H., Clinton made a strong, direct public plea for her supporters to put aside their disppointment in her failure to win the Democratic presidential nomination, remember their commitment to larger causes and unite behind Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton on the stage at the Pepsi Center in Denver Inside packed Pepsi Center, at least, there were few overt signs of a renegade movement to ignore her words. As she spoke (she's now a dramatically better orator than when her presidential campaign began) there was the occasional discordant shout of "We love you, Hillary."

But in what must have caused a huge sigh of relief from top Obama aides, there were no boos or hisses at any mention of his name (at least none that could be heard in the hall's press section), and there was no surge of Hillary supporters toward the stage as she finished her remarks and quickly left the podium.

She was introduced by a video narrated by her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, and took her place in the spotlight, wearing her patented pantsuit. On this night, the outfit was a bright tangerine color (in contrast to the black she wore at her concession speech in Washington).

To no surprise, she was greeted by huge and sustained cheers -- so much so that it took her a while to quiet the crowd and begin.

She offered herself to her audience as "a proud mother, as a proud Democrat, as a proud senator from New York, a proud American and a proud supporter of Barack Obama."

Whatever dissenters there were to that payoff line, the huge burst of applause from Democrats yearning for unity overwhelmed them.

Clinton continued to offer call after call for her supporters to become Obama supporters. Such as:

"The time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose."

"We are on the same team."

"Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president."

On a night when most of the speakers sharpened the barbs directed at John McCain, she delivered the pithiest.

She stressed to her backers that they hadn't worked so long and hard for her to see another Republican in the White House. Summing up, she said: "No way, no how, no McCain."

Based on the response to this and other lines, perhaps her third time to try to transfer allegiance to Obama will be the charm.

(UPDATE: After her speech the McCain campaign reacted to her remarks on the GOP candidate: "Sen. Clinton ran her presidential campaign making clear that Barack Obama is not prepared to lead as commander in chief. Nowhere tonight did she alter that assessment. Nowhere tonight did she say that Barack Obama is ready to lead.")

Then again, perhaps the Wednesday night roll call will simply reopen wounds that can't seem to heal within this party.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images

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