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Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) speaks with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton on April 20, 2008, as she campaigned throughout Pennsylvania.
Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) speaks with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton on April 20, 2008, as she campaigned throughout Pennsylvania. Joel Raedle/Getty Images
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention. And if everyone stays on script, Clinton delegates in Denver will have their bittersweet moment and move on.
But not all of them are as ready to do so as is Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.
In the primaries, Rendell was one of Clinton's most important allies. He helped Clinton win Pennsylvania's primary by winning over its blue-collar voters and raising doubts about her rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
Rendell says he has come to terms with his and Clinton's loss. Still, he admits that he is disappointed.
"Disappointed in the sense that I believe that Hillary Clinton would have been a spectacular president, and I believe in her personally in every way," he says in an interview with NPR. "But content in the fact that we have a very good candidate."
Winning Over Obama Skeptics
Rendell admires Obama's intelligence and thinks that the presumptive Democratic nominee has great skills and will inspire people and make a fine president. And now, Rendell is preparing to win over anyone skeptical of Obama's candidacy.
"I think what we have to do — and to the extent that I can influence this, I'm going to try — is to get [Obama] into areas where he hasn't closed the sale," Rendell says. "No more college campuses. He's closed the sale on college campuses. Let's get him into VFW halls. Let's get him into factories and have him answer questions. And people will see how smart and how well-versed and how human a person he is, and we'll be converting people."
He'd like to convert the campaign as well, by changing its tone and being more aggressive in attacking Republican Sen. John McCain.
"Barack has brought a lot of new people into the voter-registration rolls because he's been a different type of candidate. And I think there was a real desire to run this campaign on a higher plane," Rendell says. "But when you're getting smacked day after day after day with one wise-ass commercial, one innuendo after another, there comes a time when you've got to strike back. Boom! Smack them back. If they're going to say we flip-flop, smack 'em back."
Rendell is a big, gruff guy, and when he starts talking about smacking, you feel like ducking. But the governor warms to the Democratic ticket when he talks about the vice presidential pick, Sen. Joseph Biden.
Rendell thinks that Biden is just what the campaign needs, calling Biden funny, smart, human and above all, not afraid to smack the other side in the face.
Clinton Helping To Unify Party
Rendell is confident that when Clinton speaks on Tuesday, after her delegates celebrate and mourn, she will lead them back into the fold.
"You know the ad that McCain has out now about Hillary Clinton and what she said about Obama? And that Obama dissed her by not picking her for vice president? Well, that ad will have a three-day half-life," Rendell says. "By Wednesday morning, after Hillary's speech Tuesday night, that ad will be history. Hillary will make it clear to every one of her voters what she wants them to do — and that's to support Barack Obama."
Still, Rendell has not given up on his first choice for president. Asked if Hillary Clinton will make another White House bid one day, his answer is "absolutely."
"She can do it in eight years, because she'll only be 68. She'll be a young and vital 68. So, I think Hillary can have her shot, even after Barack Obama is president of the United States," he says.
Rendell remains a Hillary man — past and future — but he's willing to concentrate for the present on electing Obama.