NPR logo Phillip Reid: Clinton Delegate Ready to Back Obama

Phillip Reid: Clinton Delegate Ready to Back Obama

Delegate: Phillip Reid, 44

Hometown: Detroit

Occupation: System administrator for Chrysler Corp.

Why We're Watching: He's a party activist from the battleground Detroit suburbs, a region that will be key to deciding who gets Michigan's 16 electoral votes.

Phillip Reid is a Hillary Clinton delegate who hopes he won't be forced to vote for Clinton in Denver.

"I'm a committed delegate," he says. "I take it as my responsibility to vote for the person I was elected to vote for. She has a speech on Tuesday evening, and my hope is that she releases her delegates so we don't have to do roll call votes. But if she forces a roll call, I feel it's my obligation to vote for her."

Reid started out as a John Edwards supporter, but switched to Clinton after John Edwards, Barack Obama and most of the other Democratic candidates dropped their names from Michigan's Jan. 15 primary ballot. The name removal came after Michigan defied the Democratic National Committee by moving up its primary date. Of the leading candidates at the time, only Clinton's name remained on the ballot.

"That was just a bridge too far for me," he says — though he adds that he had no problem transferring his allegiance to Obama once the nomination was decided.

Reid was raised in a Republican household but has considered himself a Democrat since high school. "I think GOP stands for 'Greed Over People,'" he says.

Reid says the Democrats should have an edge this fall because of issues like health care and trade policies that have had an affect on Michigan's automotive companies.

Reid is a chairman of the Northern Oakland Democratic Club and a vice chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Committee. Oakland County falls inside the battleground Detroit suburbs.

Polls suggest the region is a toss-up and will be key to deciding who gets Michigan's 16 electoral votes. Democratic presidential candidates have done well there, but Obama is underperforming among independents and voters leaning Democratic.

Reid says the campaign in metropolitan Detroit will be a referendum on Obama.

"The old 'guns, God and gays' has taken a back seat to the economy and Iraq," he says. "So, the new wedge issue is race. We've got to talk about it, but it's difficult. I'm having trouble figuring out how to talk about it."

— Rick Pluta reports from Michigan Public Radio Network in East Lansing, Mich.