Sen. Obama, the Clintons, Remember Tubbs Jones

By Julia Hoppock

Aug 30, 2008 2:56pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: Seated next to each other onstage, Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Former President Bill Clinton paid tribute to the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones in Cleveland, Ohio today.

The memorial service honoring Tubbs Jones – who died August 20th from a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm – was not absent of politics. Tubbs Jones was originally a Clinton supporter – a fact that Obama addressed in his speech to the audience.

"During this most recent contest Stephanie and I started off on different sides. We would see each other and she would say to me ‘this is what it means to be a friend’ – and all I could say is, ‘I understand’ – and that is a testimony to her and the kind of person she was."

Obama said that she was the type of person that after decades in Congress was unaffected by the ways of Washington. "She was still a home girl," he joked.

Senator Clinton recalled her close friendship with Tubbs Jones – and their work together in 2004 on voting problems.  She urged Senator Obama to join in on their "Count Every Vote" reform.

"I’m hoping that when we finally see this election that we will not only have a great turnout, we won’t have any of those problems, Gov Strickland, and president Obama will pass Count Every Vote reform."

After her remarks, Obama patted Clinton on the back and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

President Clinton – not on the program to speak – made a surprise speech in the middle of the program – telling everyone that he was originally happy to let his wife speak on behalf of his family but apparently felt moved to speak.

The former president recalled their 16 year friendship and joked about the time he bought a piece of jewelry recently for Tubbs Jones – and how she shot back what buying a piece of jewelry for a woman usually meant.

"You know," said Clinton quoting Tubbs Jones , "It’s not often a man will give a woman a piece of jewelry and not want anything for it."

The crowd of family, friends, and staffers roared in amusement.

Clinton also recalled another anecdote – and spoke directly to Obama from the podium – recalling a 6 year old who asked the former president if he was really president.

"I said ‘yes I am’ and he said ‘well you’re not dead yet,’" Clinton laughed explaining that the little boy thought that all presidents were "dead white guys."

"Thanks to you Senator Obama no one will think that’s the definition of a president."

Senator Obama was accompanied to the memorial service by his wife, Senator Biden and his wife Jill – who stayed in the audience during the service.

At times the memorial service became borderline political – with many of the speakers in the lineup singling out Obama.

"Elect Sens. Obama and Biden; we must rise up," Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick said in the middle of her remarks.

"Take it to the bank these people want change," Commissioner Jimmy Dimora said from the podium to Obama: "And you’re the person for that"

At one point some people in the crowd yelled "Obama" as if in a political rally, prompting "shhh’s" from the other mourners.

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