Last night the word of a secret meeting between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama started to eek into the media. The two “ditched their traveling entourages, eluded camera crews across town and startled many of their own advisers as they held their first private meeting since becoming archrivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.”
Jeff Zeleny reports in the NY Times on how Obama gave the media the slip:
The evening began in routine fashion, with Mr. Obama holding a large rally in northern Virginia. Then, he was scheduled to travel by motorcade to Dulles International Airport and fly to Chicago. The motorcade arrived, but Mr. Obama did not, stirring alarm among reporters who had been aboard the campaign plane for 45 minutes as it sat on the tarmac.
Shortly before takeoff, one part of the secret was divulged. Robert Gibbs, the campaign’s communications director, said Mr. Obama would not be flying to Chicago as previously scheduled. He gave no reason for this mysterious pronouncement and there was little time for questions, considering that the engines had started to whir. […]
It wasn’t until after the plane landed in Chicago — sans the presidential candidate — that Mr. Gibbs confirmed a meeting had taken place between the rivals. Details? None given.
Marc Ambinder posted a list of questions (with answers) about the meeting last night, but still many of Ambinder’s answers were only speculation.
There were no flies on the wall in the room in which Clinton and Obama sat and talked last night. Each of the two candidates came to the host’s home with only one aide and the Secret Service remained outside. Here’s the scoop revealed this morning:
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California got the call from Hillary Rodham Clinton Thursday afternoon: Could she, would she let Mrs. Clinton use her home in Northwest Washington for a little sit-down with a certain senator from Illinois, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States?
Mrs. Feinstein had made the offer before and it was still good. And so a few hours later, at just about 9 p.m., Mrs. Clinton and Senator Barack Obama arrived for a face to face chat. No staff. No spouses. Just the two of them in Mrs. Feinstein’s living room.
The California senator had set up two chairs facing each other. She served them water. Nothing else. Two aides were sent to Mrs. Feinstein’s study. And Secret Service agents stayed outside.
And so it happened, The Meeting, that Democrats knew was inevitable, but for a long while thought would never come. It lasted about an hour.
DiFi didn’t ask what was said. But she shared some thoughts with the media outside of the Senate Chamber:
Mrs. Feinstein also said that she hoped the conversation would lead to greater party unity, and that Mrs. Clinton was intent on respecting the views of her supporters and looking out for the interests of her staff, as the general election unfolds.
“I can speak, I think, for Senator Clinton. She wants to do everything she can to bring the party together,” Mrs. Feinstein said. “She wants to do everything she can to see the people who voted for her have their voices heard and that’s reflected in credentials, platform. And she wants to have a working relationship with Senator Obama, and I think it’s a very positive thing.”
The press being just that, the press, “pressed for every last detail,” and asked stupid questions like whether there was “shouting”:
“They talked for about an hour,” she said. “Just them. No staff. There were no press, no staff. They had one person from each campaign that was in my study separately and I guess the security people outside. They got along very well.”
She was asked whether she heard any shouting. “No, they got along very well.”
Feinstein noted that she got a call from Clinton “in the late afternoon and that she did not need to make any preparations at her home near American University,” and she shared that she “had been in regular communication with Mrs. Clinton and was sensitive to the New York Senator’s feelings at a tumultuous time.”
“We had obviously talked several times and, you know I lost, as you know, a campaign for governor, and I know you have to talk,” Mrs. Feinstein said. “And it was, they want this opportunity privately, you know. You all know what it’s like, I mean, you go out, you have to make a statement, and there are press, and everybody is critical of it. And they just want an opportunity to meet together alone. And you know, this is a deeply personal time too. You are sorting out your feelings. Hillary’s is going to be giving a big speech tomorrow. Barack is trying to put things together for a major presidential campaign. So, there are a lot of decompression, nerve-endings, all these things that need to kind of come together and I think the opportunity to sit down, just the two of them, have an hour together was positive.”
Mrs. Feinstein said she did not need to urge Mrs. Clinton to hold a meeting. “I didn’t urge anybody to do anything. I know it’s a natural instinct. People, particularly in this case because Hillary represents a very large block of voters — the largest ever for anybody that has come in No. 2, and has the popular vote. She is I think desirous of protecting the issues that she cares about to the extent she can, seeing that the people are represented in this administration and certainly in the convention. And also to help with the ticket, and I know she feels that way because we have talked about this.”
So, what was discussed in the “secret” meeting? Was anything resolved? Did it go well? Does anyone know? CNN reports:
“They talked. I went upstairs and did my work,” Feinstein said Friday. “They called me when it was over. I came down and said, ‘Good night, everybody, I hope you had a good meeting.’
“They were laughing and that was it.”
Laughter is a good thing...
The Obama campaign’s communication director Robert Gibbs said today on CNN’s “American Morning”: “They talked about how to come together and how to unify this party and move forward because what we have at stake in November is so important.” Watch Gibbs explain the secret meeting »
Although nothing has been revealed about what was said in the meeting, it is apparent that we’re moving forward to work in unity towards the task at hand — Taking back the White House. And that in my opinion is a good thing.