Clintons Campaign For Obama In Scranton

Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) joined Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden in Scranton, Penn. Sunday. The plan was to rally votes for Barack Obama but much of the Clintons speeches reminisced of Hillary's bid for the White House.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. For the first time since Senator Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic presidential primary, she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, campaigned together. That was yesterday, and it was for Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee that they'd worked so hard to defeat earlier this year. The Clintons were joined Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, in Scranton, Pennsylvania where both Biden and Senator Clinton have family routes. NPR's David Welna was on hand and has this report.

DAVID WELNA: Two big football games were televised at the same time as yesterday's Obama-Biden rally in downtown Scranton. Still, in the city where Hillary Clinton got nearly three-quarters of the votes in the Democratic primary, several thousand people did show up. They were greeted by one of Scranton's favorite sons, Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey.

Senator BOB CASEY (Democrat, Pennsylvania): We want to give a rousing Scranton and Lackawanna County welcome to President Clinton and Senator Clinton.

(Soundbite of applause)

WELNA: The former president spoke first. He did not praise John McCain, as he did last month in a TV interview when he called the Republican nominee a great man. In fact, Clinton did not even mention McCain and he barely mentioned Obama. While he was generous in his praise for Biden, he spoke far more about his wife.

Former President BILL CLINTON (United States of America): I just want to say something about what this election means to me and to Hillary and why we're here. I am profoundly grateful to all of you who helped me to serve and who supported her. More than you will ever know, I'm grateful.

(Soundbite of applause)

WELNA: And in case anyone is keeping score, Bill Clinton pointed out that Hillary has done 50 events for Obama.

Former President CLINTON: She has not only done more to support him than any runner up in the Democratic primary process in my lifetime, she has done more than all the other runner ups come back, and that says a lot about why she ran for president and why she believes in him.

(Soundbite of applause)

WELNA: Both Clintons will campaign this week in several states for Obama though Hillary, yesterday, sometimes still sounded like a candidate herself.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): I haven't spent 35 years in the trenches fighting for universal health care, for children, for families, for women, for middle class people to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our nation and the hopes of our people.

WELNA: Still, the New York senator did make clear she wants Obama to be the next president.

Senator CLINTON: And I am looking forward to being on the back lawn of the White House on a beautiful day like this when President Obama signs into law, quality affordable health care for you and you and you.

(Soundbite of people cheering)

WELNA: She added that if Obama and Biden win Pennsylvania, there's no way they'll lose the White House. Biden for his part had only praise for both Clintons. But he disagreed with the image Hillary painted - standing on the White House lawn one sunny day.

Senator JOE BIDEN (Democrat, Delaware): No, no. She's going to be standing there handing the president the pen and taking the first pen when it's done because she, more than anyone else in America, will get it done.

(Soundbite of people cheering)

WELNA: And Biden had a counter punch for Sarah Palin, who's criticized Biden for calling it patriotic to pay taxes.

Senator BIDEN: It is unpatriotic to take a hundred billion dollars offshore and not pay your taxes. That is unpatriotic. So I don't need a lecture on patriotism. I've had it to here.

(Soundbite of people cheering)

WELNA: Polls show Obama leading McCain in Pennsylvania, but some voters have yet to decide. The owner of a Hoagie Sandwich shop just outside Scranton grinds a chunk of ham through a slicer. Chris, who does not give his last name, says he's still undecided.

Mr. CHRIS (Owner, Hoagie Sandwich Shop, Scranton, Pennsylvania): As for John McCain, I like John McCain. A lot of people do. As for Barack Obama, we all want him. We want change. We want good change, though.

WELNA: Tomorrow, it's Sarah Palin's turn to campaign in Scranton. David Welna, NPR News. ..COST: $00.00

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