The careful negotiations between Sen. Barack Obama‘s campaign and his one-time rival about her role at the Democratic National Convention are winding to a close, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s supporters demand she be formally recognized.
Mrs. Clinton, who has long championed her 18 million votes, aims to have her strong primary season showing honored at Mr. Obama’s nominating convention in some way. What is yet to be determined is whether her name will be placed into a roll call vote, and whether she will accept the symbolic gesture, publicly release her convention delegates and urge them to unanimously back Mr. Obama.
There’s plenty of precedent, as presidential candidates from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich have had their names offered to the delegates for a roll call vote at previous conventions.
An Obama spokesman said the team has not offered any final schedule of events and activity for the nominating convention to take place Aug. 25-28 in Denver.
“I wouldn’t call them negotiations, I would say we are working cooperatively with Senator Clinton and her staff,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “Things are going remarkably well and we’re looking forward to the convention and looking ahead.”
Still, it’s a sensitive subject, as angry Clinton supporters say they still believe she could capture the nomination if speeches are made on her behalf to the convention delegates about why she is more electable. Several groups are demanding the former first lady’s name be placed into nomination, and are running newspaper ads to pressure Democratic officials. They also plan Denver protests.
“A facade of unity is not unity,” Clinton supporter Marc Rubin wrote on a blog for the Denver Group, which is running the ads.
“For the Democrats to have any chance at the White House this November the DNC should heed our message and its own rules and hold an authentic nominating convention with Senator Clinton agreeing to and having her name placed in nomination,” he wrote.
There is no way to officially count people with similar sentiment, but groups pushing this message claim their numbers are vast: “We are a coalition of millions with one thing in common: NObama.”
Aides stressed the negotiations will be resolved so both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are comfortable. A Clinton aide said she was honored to be a featured speaker the second night of the convention, and added the New York senator would have a full schedule of meetings along with a luncheon on the convention’s third day with the women’s political action committee EMILY’s List.
The Clinton convention speech will be “forward-looking,” with a message to the delegates in Denver and to the nation, aides said.
But the Wednesday activities remain unclear. Former President Bill Clinton will speak at some point that evening, but the keynote speaker will be the vice presidential nominee. Traditionally a roll call vote of the states and territories will follow and the presumptive nominee will formally be nominated by the delegates.
But several times in recent history - with candidates who were much further in the delegate count than Mrs. Clinton as she finished the race - roll call votes were held.
As the primary battle raged on, Mrs. Clinton had hundreds of commitments from Democratic members of Congress and Democratic Party activists known as superdelegates to cast their votes for her, but she has since been urging them to cast their votes for her one-time rival.
A Clinton spokeswoman noted her boss will be campaigning for Mr. Obama in Florida next week, and said she is emphatically making the case the Illinois senator must win in November.
“Senator Clinton understands that there are supporters that remain passionate, but she has repeatedly urged her supporters to vote for Senator Obama,” said Clinton spokeswoman Kathleen Strand. “Because in order for there to be progress on the issues she’s fought for, such as ending the war in Iraq and health care, we need a Democrat in the White House. She’s going to do everything to make sure that Democrat is Barack Obama.”