Clintons Join Biden to Campaign for Obama in Scranton

Bill Clinton speaks at an Obama-Biden rally in Scranton, Pa. With him on the podium are Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was born in Scranton; his wife, Jill Biden; and the former president's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Bill Clinton speaks at an Obama-Biden rally in Scranton, Pa. With him on the podium are Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was born in Scranton; his wife, Jill Biden; and the former president's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. (By Jimmy May -- Associated Press)
By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 13, 2008

SCRANTON, Pa., Oct. 12 -- Everything in politics is recyclable. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. left this state while in grade school, but he can still talk of "we Pennsylvanians." Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's childhood summers at a nearby lake can be turned into the declaration that "here in northeast Pennsylvania, we don't go down without a fight."

Even one of Clinton's favorite lines from her historic, this-close race for the Democratic nomination can be reworked for the man who defeated her, Sen. Barack Obama.

"It took a Democratic president to clean up after the last President Bush; it's going to take a Democratic president to clean up after this president," Clinton said Sunday at a loud rally here, where she appeared with vice presidential nominee Biden.

Back when she was the front-runner for her party's nomination, she used to say it took Clintons to clean up after the Bushes.

Those Clintons were both here to stump for Obama in a part of Pennsylvania that remains cool toward the Democrat despite increasingly favorable signs elsewhere in the state. As has been the case since Obama became the nominee, the assignment seemed harder on Bill Clinton than on the woman who actually lost the race.

To be fair, the former president's job was to introduce his wife, so he mentioned the word "Obama" only four times in his eight-minute speech. One of those came when he said he had to leave early because "I have been dispatched by the Obama-Biden campaign to go to Virginia, where we're going to win for the first time in 40 years."

It was more of a "Joe and Hillary" day anyway, billed as a homecoming for a favorite son and goddaughter.

Scranton is Biden's home town, even if he left more than 50 years ago and represents Delaware, and his wife, Jill, was born in Pennsylvania as well. Hillary Rodham's grandfather worked in the lace mills, her father is buried here, and she spent childhood summers in a family cabin on a lake nearby. She made the connection stick in April, when she resoundingly defeated Obama in the state's primary.

The long battle turned Scranton's 75,000 residents into the most politically pampered populace in the country. The local Democratic leader unblushingly describes the blue-collar city as the "epicenter" of American politics, and it's hard to prove him wrong.

Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, has been to this region twice since securing the nomination; his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, mentioned the city in her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, and on Tuesday she will be in the same indoor athletics complex where Sunday's speeches took place.

Many in the crowd wore "Hillary Sent Me" buttons, and the senator received a louder reception than did the former president. She was unsparing in her praise of both men on the Democratic ticket.

"Barack Obama and Joe Biden are for you, and that's why I am for Barack Obama and Joe Biden," Clinton said. "My friends, this is an all-hands-on-deck moment for America. We've got to work hard, and we've got to work together. This is a fight for the future, and it is a fight we must win."


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