How is he doing at winning over her supporters – and tapping into her formidable fundraising network? What might she get in return?
It will be the photo-op seen 'round the world: Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, together Friday on stage, a picture of Democratic unity in the town of Unity – the New Hampshire burg where each got 107 votes in the January primary.
But just as important for Senator Obama, in his quest to reunify his party after a divisive primary season, will be a private meeting the night before with a few dozen of Senator Clinton's top fundraisers .
While polls indicate that the rate of "defections" – Democrats who intend to vote for presumed GOP nominee John McCain – is already approaching the usual rate of the recent elections, Obama can take nothing for granted. And, having decided to forgo public financing on the wager that he can raise far more money on his own, now he has to deliver. Clinton donors, and their fundraising prowess, are key to that equation.
"Unity is the key word," says Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. "On the Hillary side, some of these people are angry and tired and a little bitter. But they will be a lot less so if Obama can assist her."
In a teleconference on Tuesday, Obama asked his top fundraisers to consider helping the former first lady pay back some of her campaign debt. She ended May $22.5 million in the hole, but at least $12 million is money she loaned to herself. Obama is asking his money bundlers to help her pay off money she owes to outside vendors, totaling at least $10 million.