Obama, Clinton Ditch Press for Secret Meeting

Former rivals ditch press for late night rendezvous before Clinton concedes.

ByABC News via logo
June 6, 2008, 8:29 AM

June 6, 2008 — -- A stealthy meeting Thursday night between former presidential rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is no longer a secret, but what they discussed and whether they said the words "vice president" remains a mystery.

Obama, D-Ill., returned to his Chicago home early this morning, hours after slipping away from his press entourage for a clandestine meeting with Clinton in Washington, D.C.

Clinton, D-N.Y., also eluded the press staked out in front of her Washington mansion to meet with Obama at the home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Feinstein, D-Calif., an early Clinton supporter who has publicly made the case for an Obama-Clinton ticket, told reporters outside the Senate chamber Friday that the meeting took began at about 9 p.m. ET and lasted an hour.

Feinstein said Clinton called her "sometime in the late afternoon" Thursday to set up the meeting and both came with one staffer, but the conversation was just between the two of them in the living room of her Washington home.

"There were no press, no staff. They had one person from each campaign that was in my study separately and I guess the security people outside," Feinstein said. "They both left laughing."

"You all know what it's like," Feinstein said. "I mean, you go out and you have to make a statement to the press and everybody is critical of it and they just want an opportunity to meet together alone."

In a rare joint statement Thursday night, the two Democrats said only, "Senator Clinton and Senator Obama met tonight and had a productive discussion about the important work that needs to be done to succeed in November."

Robert Gibbs, Obama's campaign communications director, confirmed the meeting took place, but said, "I don't have details of the substance of the meeting."

"Sen. Obama had talked to Sen. Clinton was eager to do it and begin the process, as we have over the last couple days, of uniting the party, bringing the candidates together," he said.

Gibbs said he does not know who asked for the meeting, but it was arranged through staff.

Clinton will throw a huge rally on Saturday to mark the end of her attempt to make history by becoming the first woman to win a major party's presidential nomination, and will use that moment to formally concede and endorse Obama.

Gibbs indicated that Obama would not make an appearance with Clinton on Saturday.

"I don't anticipate that. The way we understand it is the event on Saturday and rightly so is for and about Sen. Clinton and the historic campaign that she ran," Gibbs said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, Clinton's New York colleague and a strong backer, told "Good Morning America" Friday that the secret meeting was not about the vice presidential slot and instead was "a good first step in terms of uniting the party."