Obama, Clinton pros start merger talks

As Barack Obama continues his inevitable march towards the Democratic Presidential nomination and Hillary Clinton ignores the obvious, the political professionals involved in both campaigns are starting to work towards a merger of campaigns to try and salvage a win in the November general election.

While Clinton is expected to easily win Kentucky, Obama drew a crowd of 75,000 plus in Oregon, a clear indicator that Obama mania is back and only a major cataclysmic event can prevent him from capturing the Democratic nomination.

Reports The Washington Post:

Top fundraisers for Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have begun private talks aimed at merging the two candidates’ teams, not waiting for the Democratic nominating process to end before they start preparations for a hard-fought fall campaign.

Despite Obama’s apparently insurmountable lead in delegates needed to claim the nomination, aides to both candidates are resigned to the idea that the Democratic contest will continue at least through June 3, when Montana and South Dakota will cast the final votes of the primary season.

But in small gatherings around Washington and in planning sessions for party unity events in New York and Boston in coming weeks, fundraisers and surrogates from both camps are discussing how they can put aside the vitriol of the past 18 months and move forward to ensure that the eventual nominee has the resources to defeat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in November.

Mark Aronchick, a Philadelphia lawyer who has raised more than $1 million for Clinton’s bid, said that while her supporters have not given up on their candidate, they recognize the need to start preparing for the general election.

“Only if we do this right, and see this through in the right way, will there be a chance for a full, rapid and largely complete unification of the party,” Aronchick said.

Aronchick was one of about 35 Clinton and Obama insiders who attended a dinner last week in Washington aimed at what he characterized as helping the two sides “grope towards unity.”

The Post also reports:

Sen. Barack Obama has seen his share of large crowds over the last 15 months, but his campaign said they have not approached the numbers gathered along the waterfront here right now.

The campaign, citing figures from Duane Bray, battalion chief of Portland Fire & Rescue, estimated that 75,000 people are watching him speak.

The scene suggests this is not an exaggeration. The sea of heads stretches for half a mile along the grassy embankment, while others watch from kayaks and power boats bobbing on the Willamette River. More hug the rails of the steel bridge that stretches across the water and crowds are even watching from jetties on the opposite shore.