CAMP HILL, Pa. - Gov. Rendell, delivering what he called "my first Obama speech" before a gathering of state Democratic Party leaders, challenged fellow supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton last night to set aside their grudges from the grueling primary campaign and work to elect Sen. Barack Obama president in November.
"We have to go to work!" Rendell told about 200 people at a Democratic State Committee dinner in this borough across the Susquehanna River from the state Capitol in Harrisburg.
Rendell acted as Clinton's personal strategist and host at campaign events across the state during the six-week primary campaign, helping the New York senator score a solid victory in the April 22 election. But Obama, who is seeking to become the first black president, accrued enough delegates to clinch the nomination Tuesday, and Clinton is expected to endorse the Illinois senator today.
The governor assured Clinton's supporters he feels their pain like no one else.
"Many of you may have worked as hard as I did for Senator Clinton, but nobody worked harder," he said. "Many of you may have cared very deeply about Senator Clinton ... but nobody cared more than I did," the second-term governor said.
Rendell stressed the similarity of Obama's and Clinton's stands on major issues, such as the economy and health care, while deriding the positions of Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the GOP nominee-apparent, as simply wrong.
Speaking to reporters before the speech, Rendell said McCain has a better shot at carrying Pennsylvania than any GOP candidate since the mid-1980s. But he predicted Obama will carry this battleground state if he sticks to the economic issues that are crucial to Pennsylvanians.