- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2008

Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday were trying to mediate the lingering estrangement between their two camps that erupted anew when the New York senator said she wanted to have her supporters heard and “respected” at the Democratic National Convention this month.

In a closed door California fundraising meeting with supporters July 31, Mrs. Clinton said that there was an “incredible pent-up desire” among her followers to vent their feelings about her suspended candidacy and her historic campaign and that she was seeking a “strategy” for her delegates to do that at the end of this month when Democrats gather to formally nominate Mr. Obama for president.

In a video clip surreptitiously filmed by a participant at the meeting and posted on YouTube, Mrs. Clinton did not rule out calling for a roll-call vote at the convention - an unlikely action that Obama supporters fear would send a message to voters that Democrats remained divided and were not ready to lead and unite the country.

In response to the YouTube video, the Obama campaign put out a statement late Wednesday to assure Democrats that the Illinois senator and his former rival were “working together to make sure the fall campaign and the convention are a success.”

“At the Democratic convention, we will ensure that the voices of everyone who participated in this historic process are respected and our party will be fully unified heading into the November election,” the statement said.

Flying home to Chicago on Thursday, Mr. Obama told reporters on his campaign plane that he and Mrs. Clinton were “still working out the mechanics, the coordination” of her appearance at the convention, where she was expected to deliver a prime-time speech on Aug. 26, the second night of the convention.

Mr. Obama said that one of the still unresolved issues between them was whether there would be a convention roll call that would allow Mrs. Clinton’s delegates to cast their votes for the former first lady, even though such roll calls are now usually dispensed with and the winner is declared the party’s nominee by unanimous acclamation.

Democrats on Thursday said it was highly unlikely that Mrs. Clinton will request a roll call. Lanny Davis, a longtime party strategist and former Clinton White House adviser, told ABC News on Wednesday that it was a “completely idiotic idea that leads to nothing but party disharmony.”

Yet as word of their continuing strained relations spread throughout the party, Mrs. Clinton felt it was necessary to assure her still-diehard supporters in an online chat that “Senator Obama and I are working together to make sure [the convention is] a big success.”

Nonetheless, her advisers were working hard to raise her political profile in Denver, even though conventions are traditionally a time to promote the party’s nominee, not the runner-up. Mr. Obama has a total of 2,229.5 delegates to Mrs. Clinton’s 1,896.5.

But Mrs. Clinton made it clear Thursday that she want a broader role for her delegates at the convention to presumably sing her praises.

“We will ensure that the voices of everyone who participated in this historic process are respected,” she told her supporters.

When one online participant asked her whether she was “truly supporting Senator Obama and encouraging your supporters to do the same, or are you just saying what you have to?” she insisted that she was “completely committed to helping Senator Obama become the next president of the United States and urging all of you to do the same.”

Last week, at the fundraising event, Mrs. Clinton told her supporters, “I know from just what I am hearing, that there’s incredible pent-up desire. And I think that people want to feel like, ‘OK, it’s a catharsis, we’re here, we did it, and then everybody get behind Senator Obama.’ That is what most people believe is the best way to go.”