Clinton Delegates Discuss Letting Go

A Clinton supporter hangs out at the Pepsi Center in Denver on the second day of the convention. i i

hide captionA Clinton supporter hangs out at the Pepsi Center in Denver on the second day of the convention.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A Clinton supporter hangs out at the Pepsi Center in Denver on the second day of the convention.

A Clinton supporter hangs out at the Pepsi Center in Denver on the second day of the convention.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sen. Hillary Clinton is scheduled to release her delegates Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention. But not all of her supporters are ready to back the presumptive nominee, Sen. Barack Obama.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Alex Chadwick.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand. It's Barack Obama's convention, but tonight is Hillary Clinton's moment. Democrats hope her keynote speech will heal the political rift between the Clinton and Obama camps after a bruising nominating battle.

CHADWICK: Many of her backers are expected to follow her lead, but others are not ready to give up the dream of Hillary Clinton back in the White House. From Denver, Day to Day's Alex Cohen has more.

ALEX COHEN: Delegate Rosa Holiday (ph) sports two pins on her black and white checkered dress. One features a picture of a smiling Senator Obama, her home state of Michigan in the background.

Ms. ROSA HOLIDAY (Democratic Delegate, Michigan): The next pin says, keep hope alive, Obama for president 2008.

COHEN: She backs Obama now. Initially, though, she was selected as a Clinton delegate. Rosa says she's been a passionate supporter of Senator Clinton for years because of her positions on education reform, healthcare, the environment.

Ms. HOLIDAY: Her stand on jobs. So many people back in Michigan and around the U.S. are out of work right now. And Senator Clinton planned to put people back to work.

COHEN: Rosa says she was tremendously upset when Senator Clinton didn't clinch enough delegates to become the nominee. But here at the convention, she has no problem casting her delegate vote for Barack Obama. She says that's what Hillary would want her to do.

Ms. HOLIDAY: We all can have no doubt that, when we leave here, that we are on one accord. We're all unified. Senator Obama's going to be our next president, and that's what's going to happen.

COHEN: But that's not what's going to happen if Will Bauer (ph) has his way.

Mr. WILL BAUER (Democratic Delegate): What's this about flat tires?

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: I met Will at a party sponsored by a group called PUMA.

Mr. BAUER: Am I allowed to swear on the show? PUMA stands for Party Unity My Ass.

COHEN: The guests had various reasons for coming, but most shared Bauer's goal.

Mr. BAUER: I am here to do my best to help Hillary Clinton become the next Democratic nominee and the next president of the United States.

COHEN: Even if Clinton releases her delegates, a move she's expected to make tomorrow night, Bauer doesn't plan on giving up. That's because he believes Senator Clinton could still be the nominee.

Mr. BAUER: I'm looking at the numbers. I'm looking at pledged delegates. And it sounds, you know, kind of nerdy to some people. That's what fires my passions.

Ms. EM WALSH (Clinton Supporter): The PUMA movement is one of the most important things that's happened in the United States in the last 50 years.

COHEN: Fellow PUMA member Em Walsh (ph) of Boston says she feels Hillary Clinton was attacked unfairly in the media and cheated out of a nomination she justly deserves. Walsh is not a delegate, but when she does vote in November, she's not quite sure what she'll do.

Ms. WALSH: My first loyalty is to my country, not to my party.

COHEN: The Republican Party is swift to pick up on such sentiments. Last night, they hosted a happy hour for Clinton supporters. Tom Kise works for John McCain's Colorado office.

Mr. TOM KISE (Colorado Office, McCain Presidential Campaign): Well, tonight is just a great opportunity for Hillary supporters to come out, get together, talk about why they're supporting Hillary Clinton, why now they're either on the side, or they're supporting John McCain.

COHEN: Many Democrats are countering such tactics by asking Clinton supporters to focus on what Hillary Clinton was able to achieve rather than on what she wasn't able to do. Maria Echaveste served as deputy chief of staff under Bill Clinton. She spoke at a women's symposium here yesterday and asked voters to look at the big picture.

Ms. MARIA ECHAVESTE (Former Deputy Chief of Staff for President Clinton): Every culture across the planet has had this struggle. What is the role of women? Right? And if you think about it, what we've accomplished is pretty significant given the weight of history.

COHEN: That history will likely be felt tonight when Hillary Clinton speaks. Today is the 88th anniversary of women's suffrage, and 100 years ago here in Denver was the first time a woman was allowed to serve as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention. Alex Cohen, NPR News, Denver.

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Correction Aug. 26, 2008

Some versions of this story referred to Hillary Clinton's "keynote speech." In fact, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner was designated as the keynote speaker.

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