Disunity may cloud Democrat convention
Steven R. Hurst | 8/13/2008, 5:41 a.m.
WASHINGTON — A cloud of disunity hangs over preparations for the Democratic party’s national convention later this month as Barack Obama’s vanquished primary opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton has not ruled out having her name put in nomination for a roll call vote — a potentially major distraction leading into the final campaign stretch against Republican John McCain.
Obama and Clinton battled — sometimes bitterly — through state primary and caucus contests until early June, when the first-term Illinois senator secured the necessary convention delegates to assure his nomination when Democrats convene late this month in Denver.
As news began bubbling that Clinton might not block her supporters from placing her name before the convention — a largely symbolic move — she and Obama issued a joint statement last Wednesday night apparently designed to defuse concern over disunity.
“We are 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,” it said.
In the primary contests, Clinton amassed major backing despite running second to Obama. Many of her supporters are said to be bitter about the loss and have refused or been slow to join Clinton in supporting Obama, who would be the first African American candidate to win a major party’s nomination for the presidency.
Still-angry supporters of Clinton, who would have been the first female nominee, assert she was unfairly treated during the nominating contest because she is a woman.
As he flew home to Chicago last Thursday, Obama told reporters that he had talked separately to Clinton and her husband, the former president, and that they were enthusiastic about having a smooth convention.
“As is true in all conventions, we’re still working out the mechanics, the coordination,” Obama said. One such issue, he confirmed, was whether there will be a convention roll call on Clinton’s nomination.
Later Thursday, Democratic officials said Bill Clinton will give a speech on the third night of the Democratic convention, before an address by Obama’s yet-to-be-named running mate.
Hillary Clinton was expected to deliver a prime-time address to delegates on Aug. 26, the second night of the convention. With the delegate roll call planned for the next evening, Obama was set to accept the nomination with a speech on the convention’s fourth and final night.
In Florida, a man has been arrested on charges he threatened to assassinate Obama. Authorities said 22-year-old Raymond Hunter Geisel was keeping weapons and military-style gear in his hotel room and car.
Geisel was arrested by the Secret Service on Aug. 3 in Miami and appeared in court last Thursday. A Secret Service affidavit charges that Geisel made the threat during a training class for bail bondsmen in Miami in late July.
According to someone else in the 48-member class, Geisel allegedly referred to Obama with a racial epithet and continued, “If he gets elected, I’ll assassinate him myself.”