WASHINGTON — The silence between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton has been broken.
In a telephone conversation Monday, their first since the end of the primary, the Democratic White House hopeful asked the former president to campaign for him.
Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna said the former president renewed the offer he made last week to do whatever he can to ensure Obama wins the presidency.
"President Clinton continues to be impressed by Sen. Obama and the campaign he has run, and looks forward to campaigning for and with him in the months to come," McKenna said.
In a speech in Independence, Mo., Obama said he will never question others' patriotism during the race and blamed his own "carelessness" for some of the criticism of him so far.
"I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged — at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for," he told a few hundred people at the Truman Memorial Building. "I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine."
Obama also rejected retired Gen. Wesley Clark's suggestion that Republican John McCain's military experience didn't necessarily qualify him to be president. Obama said that McCain — a Navy pilot who was shot down and held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam — had "endured physical torment in service to our country" and that "no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides."