How Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama reconcile is one of the more fascinating issues at the outset of the general election, particularly since it's not clear how they'll do it. Here's what Hank Sheinkopf, former consultant to Bill Clinton and founder of Sheinkopf Communications, thinks should happen:

Obama needs to treat Hillary gingerly, with great love. He's got to make her feel like she's the most important person in the world, because he needs her more than she needs him. She gives the white working class and blue collar voters, the people who voted for her--which is not an insignificant group--reasons to vote for Senator Obama. And by hitting the campaign trail, she'd reduce the probability of people leaving the party to vote for McCain.

He needs her to go to places where she can be the most help--the Midwest, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Western Pennsylvania. The places where she did well, the heavily blue-collar, heavily Catholic places, and she needs to say, "Forget about Reverend Wright, forget about all that. This is a great guy who's going to do great things for the economy, and I'm going to work with him."

But, if you're Obama, how do you get her to say that? People will tell you that once this is done and the campaign's over, everyone is [emotionally] removed--that's a piece of bullshit. It's always personal. That's why they've got to get in a room and talk it through, and then they've got to make a joint statement. And his speech Tuesday night was a step in the right direction, toward the beginning of that discussion.

Once they've had the conversation, she would be a solution to his gender problem. He could say, "This is a year of firsts: I'm the first black, she's the first woman. We each raised an extraordinary number of votes, and we need to combine those votes. We both share an opposition to the war in Iraq; we both share an opposition to an administration that's created a situation with subprime loans." Although it's hard to envision her as vice president, he's got to somehow make her a partner in this.

--Nicole Allan