MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton put their hard-fought primary season battle behind them today. They appeared together for their first big rally held in the very small town of Unity, New Hampshire. The town was selected for two reasons - its name, of course - but also because each of the two Democrats won exactly the same number of votes, 107, in January's primary there. The tone of the event was mutual admiration, even as polls show some reluctance among Clinton supporters to back Obama.
NPR's Don Gonyea reports.
DON GONYEA: The town of Unity is so small it simply couldn't handle the crush of cars that would carry the thousands that descended on this western New Hampshire community today. So school buses shuttled spectators and media alike in from one town over, the venue was a field next to the elementary school. And just in case anybody managed to miss the message of the day, giant painted plywood letters hung at the top of the bleachers, spelling out the word UNITY. It was hot and sunny, and the crowd exploded when the guests of honor took the stage.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)
GONYEA: Some waved Hillary for president signs. Clinton spoke first to the Democrats in the state whose primary she won back in January.
NORRIS: New Hampshire has a special place in my heart. And I'm here today to ensure that come November, New Hampshire will have a special place in Barack Obama's heart as well.
GONYEA: Then she turned to her former opponent.
NORRIS: We have gone toe to toe in this hard-fought primary. But today and everyday going forward, we stand shoulder to shoulder for the ideals we share, the values we cherish, and the country we love.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
GONYEA: Clinton's backing of Obama is important. She won millions of votes in the primaries and the Democratic nominee will need her supporters in November, especially in the long list of battleground states starting with New Hampshire. But a poll out yesterday also shows that right now, only about half of Clinton voters say they will now vote for Obama, with a sizable number saying they will switch to McCain. The senator addressed that today.
NORRIS: And to anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider.
GONYEA: Clinton's endorsement of Obama left nothing out. She described his agenda as her agenda and the only option for those who believe in the things she fought for. As she concluded, a chant erupted.
(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE CHANTING)
U: Thank you, Hillary. Thank you, Hillary.
GONYEA: She and Obama embraced, clasped their hands and held them high, providing the photograph that will grace the front page of the nation's newspapers tomorrow. Then it was Obama's turn at the mic.
NORRIS: She rocks. That's the point I'm trying to make.
GONYEA: Obama praised Clinton for the race she ran, for the barrier she has broken, and for the inspiration she is to women. Then, he turned his attention to the day's theme.
NORRIS: It's fitting that we meet in a place called Unity because the truth is that's the only way we can solve the challenges facing this country.
GONYEA: And in his own pitch for the votes of Clinton backers, he made it clear that the 107 people who voted for him in the New Hampshire primary in this small town and the 107 who voted for her were really voting for the same thing.
NORRIS: Now, we look at them as 214 votes for change here in America.
GONYEA: This is a crowd full of enthusiastic supporters of the Democrats. There were still a few Clinton supporters who said her loss still stings and that they won't vote for Obama just because she tells them to. But there were plenty, too, who are already looking ahead, and many said they think today could be the first step toward a Democratic ticket that includes both Obama and Clinton.
Don Gonyea, NPR News, Unity, New Hampshire.
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