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Former rivals to meet in Unity, N.H.

Nedra Pickler

Former rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton plan to campaign together Friday in the small New Hampshire town of Unity, their first joint appearance meant to ease tensions over the closely fought Democratic primary.

The location, announced Monday, was chosen not only for the symbolism of its name, but because each candidate received exactly 107 votes there in the Jan. 8 primary. Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said the campaign was still finalizing the location for the rally, which will be open to the public.

Independent-minded New Hampshire is a critical battleground state in November. Bush won the state in 2000, but Democrat John Kerry narrowly captured it in 2004. The state also has one of the most competitive Senate races this year, with former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen looking to oust GOP Sen. John Sununu.

The Obama campaign's goal is to win all 19 states Kerry carried and it considers New Hampshire the most competitive among them. John McCain has been a popular candidate in the Republican primaries — he won New Hampshire in his unsuccessful 2000 presidential bid and prevailed again this year.

McCain also won the town of Unity with 81 votes, 11 more than GOP rival Mitt Romney. To even further the symmetry, Clinton and Obama each got one write-in vote on Republican ballots.

Clinton ended up stunning even herself when she won the New Hampshire Democratic primary after losing to Obama in Iowa. The victory resuscitate Clinton's waning candidacy and set up the long campaign with Obama.

Former President Clinton does not plan to appear with his wife and Obama, ceding the spotlight to the two former foes.

Obama and Clinton spoke by phone Sunday night. Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs on Monday confirmed the telephone conversation, but declined to give details.

The rally will be the day after Obama and Clinton meet privately Thursday at a Washington hotel with former Clinton donors. The former first lady will introduce Obama to her financial backers, who have been slow to embrace her one-time opponent.

Clinton, a New York senator, suspended her campaign for the Democratic nomination earlier this month after Obama, an Illinois senator, secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination. "I endorse him and throw my full support behind him," she said at the time.

Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said she will make the same pitch to her supporters that they should support Obama "with everything we still need to accomplish and with the stakes as high as they are."


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The Associated Press