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REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION / DEMOCRATS / On the
Trail

Some Clinton delegates say the unity show was forced

September 04, 2008|Peter Nicholas

The "unity" convention in Denver is over. But some Hillary Rodham Clinton delegates are back home in California stewing over what they describe as pressure from Barack Obama allies to create a false image of overwhelming support for the Democratic presidential nominee.

The Clinton delegates say that during the four-day conclave, Obama delegates opposed efforts to schedule a full, 50-state roll call vote that would attest to the New York senator's true support. What happened instead was an abbreviated roll call vote, cut off by Clinton herself so that Obama would be nominated by acclamation.

As part of that push, some of the Clinton backers grouse, Obama supporters made plain that the Clinton delegates needed to switch sides and vote for the eventual nominee. A fair amount of that happened. The final delegate tally was 3,188.5 for Obama; 1,010.5 for Clinton, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Democratic National Committee. When the primary season ended in June, the tally was much closer, with Clinton trailing Obama in delegates by less than a 10% margin.

Within the huge California delegation, lots of Clinton delegates got with the program. Although Clinton handily won the state's primary in February, the California convention vote was Obama, 273; Clinton, 166.

Raymond Penko, a Clinton delegate from San Diego who campaigned door-to-door for her, said: "There was pressure all around to conform to what I would call the old boys' club. . . . As soon as Obama delegates heard that one was a Hillary supporter, they would shun you, tell you to get over it, say, 'Stop being a crybaby. What's your problem? Don't you want to win in November?' "

Penko and Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred circulated a petition for a full roll call vote. They couldn't round up enough signatures.

Allred, a Clinton delegate well known in Southern California for her public-relations flair, grew frustrated last week with what she saw as efforts to muzzle her and showed up at a delegation breakfast one morning with a gag made up of restaurant napkins.

She's still not happy with what transpired at the Democratic gathering. "This was a scripted convention," she said this week. "There really was no room for dissent for Hillary supporters. Not even room for discussion."

-- Peter Nicholas

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