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Dems in Carolinaslook to mend rifts

Democrat Paula Dorn was set to stay home in November.

The nurse from Shalotte is a devoted supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton. She made calls, planted a yard sign, wore a T-shirt and made multiple contributions. She even drove 200 miles to Charlotte for a Clinton fundraiser.

She hated what she saw as media hype for Barack Obama and unfair treatment of Clinton.

“If you'd asked me a week ago, I probably would have said I wouldn't vote for Barack Obama,” Dorn, 49, said Tuesday. “At that point I was much angrier. I've had time to relax.”

Democrats across the Carolinas and the country hope such wounds from a marathon, often bitter campaign heal now that Obama has apparently wrapped up the nomination.

Even before the last polls closed in South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday, several of the Carolinas' remaining uncommitted superdelegates began coming out for Obama. Some had been deluged with what Muriel Offerman of Raleigh calls “nasty e-mails from women that are really upset.”

She and other party leaders hope to harness the passion in a general election.

“I think we will get past these divisions before too long,” said S.C. Democratic chair Carol Fowler. “Obviously this campaign has gone on for a long time and people on both sides have very intense emotions about it. In the end, I think Democrats will come together around Barack Obama.”

Some say it could take having Clinton on an Obama ticket, a job she hinted Tuesday she would accept.

“It's very important that Sen. Obama invite Sen. Clinton to be his vice presidential nominee,” said Susan Burgess, a Charlotte City Council member and Clinton superdelegate who said she changed her mind about the prospect when she “realized the deep division in the Democratic Party.”

David Parker, a Statesville lawyer and superdelegate who Tuesday night committed to Obama, said uniting the party is “going to be harder than either the Obama or Clinton campaign thinks but easier than the press thinks.”

“It's just going to take reaching out and conversations,” he said. “The thing that moves me is electability. And I firmly believe that when Obama begins to talk about issues of the economy, (that) will resonate with the public.”

Like Dorn, Lynne Gillooly, 51, a Clinton supporter from Cornelius, believes the media had it in for her candidate.

“The mainstream media was sexist,” said Gillooly, a small business owner.

But she won't have any trouble voting for Obama.

“Right now I'll take anybody – Mickey Mouse – that's not going to follow this (Bush administration) group,” she said.

Tom Hendrickson, a Raleigh businessman who raised money for Clinton, agreed.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “folks who are supporting Obama or Hillary are going to have a common interest in making sure we don't have another four years like the last seven.”

Dorn said she expects Clinton to get behind Obama.

“Hillary is a pretty gracious lady,” she said. “And I think she's going to show us the way.”