Mending Fences

Can Obama and Clinton supporters make nice?

of mending fences and saying, ‘Hey, nothing personal, this is all about making a better America.’”

For Clinton, the stakes aren’t as high since the 2008 presidential election is now out of her grasp, but if she decides to run at some later time or aspires to a more powerful role within the Democratic Party, she must attempt to win back the trust of Obama supporters. “For all the 18 million votes she received, it still was not as many as Barack Obama,” King says.

One way she can make inroads with Obama supporters is to campaign vigorously for him against McCain, says Desiree S. Pedescleaux, a political science professor and dean of undergraduate studies at Spelman College. “I think Hillary will work with Barack for the overall good, and the goal is to unseat the Republicans in November,” she says. However, African Americans may not be as forgiving of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who also took some heat during the primary season for what some believed to be personal attacks against Obama.

“I think he has turned off so many voters that they will remember,” Pedescleaux says. “So he should really take a seat and let this play out on its own.”

Indeed, in her concession speech on Saturday in Washington D.C., Clinton said, “When I started this race, I intended to win back the White House, and make sure we have a president who puts our country back on the path to peace, prosperity, and progress. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do by ensuring that Barack Obama walks through the doors of the Oval Office on January 20, 2009.”

The attention the media is giving to Obama’s vice presidential selection process is also fueling the fire, experts say, since the question of whether he will select Clinton keeps the divide between the two on the front burner. And while many experts don’t see an Obama-Clinton ticket—he is said to be looking at a retired military officer—historically it’s not unusual for former rivals to link up after a contentious primary season.

“I think back to 1980 with the Republicans,” King says. “You had George Herbert Walker Bush vs. Ronald Reagan and those two really did not like each other. Yet a month after the campaign ended, they made nice and George Bush became Reagan’s vice president.”

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