Clinton addresses Denver convention

Illinois delegation reacts
August 27, 2008 11:37:55 AM PDT
Hillary Clinton tried to convince voters who supported her in the race for president to unite behind Barack Obama.Her role at the Democratic National Convention is considered critical to winning in November.

Some Clinton supporters are so bitter about how this race has played out they've said they'll vote for John McCain.

It was a highly anticipated moment. Obama backers wanted her to give a forceful message that she and her delegates are 100 percent behind his nomination. Clinton delegates wanted the recognition they feel she and they deserve for her tough primary fight.

Embraced by the crowd, there was ecognition for the senator who hoped to become the first woman president.

"Thank you because you never gave in and you never gave up, and together we made history," said Clinton.

She addressed her supporters and the long fight they waged believing she could secure the nomination.

"You haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months or endured the last eight years to suffer through more failed leadership," Clinton said.

But there were still some bitter feelings in the crowd, issues that have to be addressed in order for the Democrats to move on.

"Whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose," Clinton said.

And most importantly, Clinton addressed the question of where her allegiance now lies.

"Barack Obama is my candidate and he must be our president," Clinton said.

And by extension she indicated who her delegates should now fully support.

"I ran to stand up for all those who had been invisible to their government for eight long years. Those are the reasons I ran for president and those are the reasons I support Barack Obama for president," Clinton said.

The Illinois Delegation Reacts

The Illinois delegation has wrestled with the Hillary issue. Even with a nasty spat that became public before the convention, did the speech change minds among Illinois Democrats?

"She wants the 18 million people who believed in her, that he will put forth those things, those policies that she's cared about all of her adult life, will go forward with him" said Clinton friend Betsy Eberling.

"A lot of us have been waiting for this time. And I think when she comes out here and gives her full support behind Barack Obama, I think that will help a lot of her supporters," said Clinton backer Valerie Alexander.

"And she's 100 percent. And the Obama and Clinton campaigns are working well together in Illinois," said Clinton backer Kevin Conlon..

"What this does is say to everyone, only Democrats could have fielded a group of candidates like we did," said Delmarie Cobb, Clinton backer.

A small number of people say they are still not entirely onboard. Some said they are never going to be for Obama. Many local Clinton supporters say the Obama campaign in Illinois has worked extremely hard to be accommodating to mend the fences. And as a sign of how they are working, on September 14, Clinton will be out in Chicago holding a fundraiser for Obama.

The Preparation

To make sure Senator Clinton looked her best during the speech, some of her aides held up four pantsuits in the convention center Tuesday. They apparently wanted to see which color looked best in the center and eventually chose orange.

The campaign primary was so tough that now her own words are being used against Barack Obama by the Republicans. She had one challenging pep talk to deliver. It was like losing the Super Bowl and then asking all your fans to wear the other team's jersey.

Obama backers looked for a strong statement from Clinton with a speech that went beyond a tacit or lukewarm endorsement.

"I think it is very exciting that we have a chance to elect a president and a vice president who will help us will make the dreams of so many Americans come true again," said Clinton, (D) New York.

There were some observers who questioned whether the convention is able to focus, not on Democratic fractured interests, but squarely against John McCain and the Republicans.

"If you have a convention you should be driving a message home at every chance that you get," said Democratic strategist James Carville on Good Morning America Tuesday.

Illinois Democrats have had their own Clinton-Obama squabbles this week -- some that played out publicly -- but they seem to realize the importance of getting the party out of discord and in harmony.

"Some of us will do whatever it takes to talk to our friends and colleagues and fellow Hillary supporters to bring them home," said Lynn Cutler, a Clinton delegate from Illinois.

"If we leave this convention on Thursday saying 'Barack gave great speech, Michelle was awesome, but I'm still concerned about the Hillary factor,' that would be a profound problem going into the fall campaign, and it simply cannot happen," said Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., (D) Chicago.

That's because Democratic strategists know, if they hope to wage political war against the Republicans, they have to stop fighting amongst themselves.

Obama was not in Denver yet. On Tuesday, he hosted a town hall meeting in Kansas City at an American Airlines facility where up to 600 jobs may be cut. Obama talked about bringing relief to middle class families but also about the battle against terrorism and the tactics used by the U.S. government.

"In this battle against terrorism we got to not only win the military battle, but we've got to win battle of hearts and minds," said Obama. "And that's why it's important to live up to our ideals, and that's why when I'm president I'm going to have my attorney general go through every single executive order that George Bush has issued, and if there are laws that are unconstitutional then I'm gonna overturn them and we'll get our government back on track."

Obama should arrive in Denver Wednesday. His big speech, accepting the nomination, will be about 1.5 miles from the Pepsi Center where the DNC is taking place, at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium before a crowd of 75,000.


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