WASHINGTON -- After weeks of increasingly bitter campaigning, Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama broke from their presidential race today for tight budget votes on the Senate floor.
At around 1 p.m., the two competitors entered the chamber together, shaking hands. After casting their votes amid a crowd of fellow senators, Obama placed his hand on Clinton's back and guided her toward two desks, where the pair sat together in whispered conversation – too quiet to be overheard.
Clinton and Obama's chat lasted only three minutes and ended rather abruptly. Their meeting was full of head nods, serious faces and emphasizing hand gestures -- no laughs, no smiles, looking a little like an in-person reflection of their campaigns' long-distance sparring.
With a quick end to their private conversation, Clinton and Obama parted ways to meet with their fellow senators during the series of votes. Clinton sat casually with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) for more than 15 minutes, while Obama mingled around the chamber with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and other Democrats before leaving the floor.
UPDATE: Obama also found time to hit up New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who has endorsed Obama's rival, Clinton. Obama approached Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, then politely directed Schumer away from Reid for a private chat. Schumer and Obama spoke for about five minutes in hushed tones -- but in a much more friendly manner than Obama's talk with Clinton earlier this afternoon in the chamber.
Kristen M. Daum in Washington, D.C.
Posted by Admin on March 13, 2008 2:10 PM