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Let us all now join together

This is what Democratic unity looks like.

John Kerry is getting fund-raising and message-making help from his former Democratic primary foes, some of whom are potential running mates and big financial draws in important parts of the country.

Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt, Florida Sen. Bob Graham, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards are opening doors and wallets for Kerry as he tries to raise $80 million for his presidential campaign by midsummer.

Kerry began this month $5 million in the hole, but he’s raised about $1 million a day on the Internet for the past 10 days. However, he still lags far behind President Bush, who has $108 million on hand and is expected to raise as much as $200 million by the end of summer.

Nevertheless, the speed with which Kerry has recruited his former rivals as allies has stunned many Democrats and unsettled Republicans, who worry that the Democrats’ animosity to Bush, doubts about the war in Iraq and fears about the economy are helping Kerry unite his often fractious party.

“This is the only time that I can remember where all of the groups that make up the Democratic Party, everyone has said, you don’t have to be with us 100 percent,” said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.

The money and the willingness to give are there – Atrios would now be a John Kerry Pioneer if Kerry were into giving out nicknames and decoder rings. It’s Joe Biden’s line about not having to be with us 100% that really gets me fired up, though. We can reconvene the circular firing squads after November if we want to, but for now we’re focused, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Kerry’s former rivals are starting to ramp up their roles. Gephardt will campaign with Kerry in Missouri on Saturday. Clark and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean are tapping their Internet networks and soliciting help for Kerry. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is expected to campaign for Kerry soon in Florida. Edwards, a former trial lawyer who’s been on vacation, has told Kerry aides that he’s ready to hit the stump and has made his extensive contacts among deep-pocketed lawyers available to Kerry.

“They’ve all offered to do both money and surrogate stuff,” said Steve Elmendorf, Kerry’s deputy campaign manager. “We’ll be utilizing them a lot.”

Just wanted to note that last bit for those who might have wondered why not all of the candidates were mentioned in the opening grafs. Yes, even Lieberman is helping out, and Florida is one place he can really make a difference. Those of you who spit when you hear his name should keep that in mind.

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