— From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
RALEIGH, N.C. -- As his rival for the nomination did earlier in the night, Obama praised John and Elizabeth Edwards at a Democratic Party dinner in their state Friday night.
"I want to make sure that I say a special thanks to John and Elizabeth
Edwards," he began. "Because they really set the tone for this
president race with their courage, with their ideas, with their passion
and their commitment to working people and to making sure that we focus
our attention on not just the haves, not even the have littles and want
mores but the have nots in America, and I'm so grateful for their
contribution, and I am looking forward to working with them in the next
administration to make sure that we are doing everything we can to
deliver on the full promise of America."
Both Democrats have courted Edwards' endorsement, but he is not expected to declare his support before Tuesday's election.
The Illinois senator also echoed Clinton's remarks about the party being unified in November.
"If Hillary Clinton were the nominee, I would support her in a
heartbeat," he said. "And I know that if I am the nominee then she will
support me, and the reason is because, although we are campaigning
vigorously, and we have serious differences in both policy and approach
-- one thing that I can say, is that our differences pale in comparison
to our differences with the other party."
These kinds of unity-focused comments are not new -- they are a part of both candidates' stump speeches -- and it is surprising to hear such remarks at a Democratic Party dinner. Still, the comments were worth noting, because their words were so similar and because the overall tone here was in real contrast to the final days of the Pennsylvania campaign, which were marked by increasingly bitter attacks. Since losing that contest, Obama has since taken to saying on the stump that he wanted to get back to his early commitment to running a positive campaign.
In what was largely a typical stump speech, he again expressed his opposition to the gas tax holiday and reminded the audience that he had been against the Iraq war from the beginning and that he had the right judgment to answer the "3 am" call.
Many of his fans in the crowd stood or waved Obama signs throughout the roughly 35-minute remarks.