Clinton Delegates Wrestle With Moving On

The Democratic National Convention was supposed to be all about Barack Obama. But his vanquished opponent will share the spotlight with a major speech Tuesday and in the roll call vote of delegates the following night. Some Hillary Clinton delegates share what they hope will come from the convention.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

This next story has everything to do with who's carrying the baton now for the Democrats. Senator Hillary Clinton's supporters are planning a march for women's rights in Denver, and there are questions about whether he most loyal supporters will get behind Barack Obama.

NPR's Debbie Elliott spoke with two who are wrestling with that question.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT: Hillary Clinton delegates are a tight-knit set. Many of them know each other from working on the campaign. That was the case for the two women I sat down with in a downtown Denver hotel to talk about their expectations for this convention.

Ms. ALITA BLACK (Democratic Delegate): I'm Alita Black. I live in Arlington, Virginia. I went to 14 states. I knocked on about 5,000 doors, made about 15,000 phone calls, and I did about 100 house parties. I'm an academic. I cashed in retirement to pay for it. I didn't sleep for 18 months.

Ms. MARY BOEGERS (Democratic Delegate): I'm Mary Boegers. I live in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I was coordinator for the Hillary Clinton campaign in Montgomery County. I was not looking forward to coming here.

ELLIOTT: Boegers and Black are whips for the Clinton campaign on the convention floor, and both are active in the petition drive to put Clinton's name into nomination for a roll-call vote Wednesday.

Ms. BOEGERS: If the Obama campaign fails to have a true roll-call vote where the pledged delegates get to vote for the candidate that they were selected and elected to represent, I think people will come out of the convention un-unified, and so the ball is really in the Obama campaign's court.

ELLIOTT: They're frustrated when they hear it's time for Clinton to release her delegates and help unify the party. Boegers says Obama will have to close the deal by acknowledging Clinton and her supporters.

Ms. BOEGERS: While we didn't make it all the way to the finish line that we have an opportunity to celebrate, it's almost like the silver medal at an Olympic - and if we're denied that and it's just a charade and a pretence, the Obama campaign is going to be in trouble because people are going to leave here angry. And a lot of them are going to leave here thinking, once again, it's just because Hillary's a woman.

ELLIOTT: As for Clinton's speech tonight, Alita Black says she's ready.

Ms. BLACK: I'm going to scream my lungs out for her on the floor. I'm going to get everybody around me to scream their lungs out on the floor. I'm going to dance. I'm going to wear my infamous orange sneakers. I'm going to hand out Hillary signs until I'm on my knees begging people to carry them. And I'm going to listen to Hillary, and Hillary is going to take us to the next level.

ELLIOTT: After Wednesday, Black says, she hopes to be able to don an Obama-Biden T-shirt.

Ms. BLACK: Right now, I want to vote for him, but I'm not there yet. And I know that if she hears this, she's going to give me a really, really, really hard time.

ELLIOTT: Boegers isn't so sure.

Ms. BOEGERS: I'm a Democrat. I have never voted for a Republican for president. I don't know what I'll do. I have never felt this way before.

ELLIOTT: It's a bittersweet moment, she says, to be standing up for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. But on the convention floor last night, other Clinton delegates appeared ready to move on. Seventy-nine-year-old Angie Gallereto(ph) of Pennsylvania.

Ms. ANGIE GALLERETO (Democratic Delegate): As a Democratic (unintelligible) leader, I knew that my position was to support the candidate that was chosen, and that was Obama. And I have no regrets. I intend to go out and work very hard for him.

ELLIOTT: Debbie Elliott, NPR News, Denver.

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INSKEEP: Don't take our word for it. Listen for yourself. You can hear NPR's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Denver during the next three evenings on many public radio stations and at npr.org.

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