Clinton supporters slow to back Obama

August 26, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The leadership says there is no problem, Monday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scolded reporters for even asking. But today Sen. Hillary Clinton's supporters in the California delegation made a show of supporting their candidate -- and the two camps may not be as close as party leaders would like.

Clinton supporter and media savvy attorney Gloria Alred walked into the California delegation breakfast Tuesday morning with a napkin tied around her mouth and told reporters she had been gagged ? prevented from voicing her support for Clinton.

Other Clinton supporters cut strips of white cloth and tied them around their wrists in silent support.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the co-chair of Sen. Barack Obama's California campaign, declined to wear one. Harris told reporters Clinton will bring her supporters on board.

"What we're going to see when she gives her speech is a unified party," Harris said.

But San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said that unity is just the party line.

"Regardless of the talking points, and trust me, I should show you the talking points, it's that, 'we are a united party; it's absolutely untrue that this is a divided party; there may be some ill feelings but at the end of the day we're all going to unite around common values,' we're supposed to say that," Newsom said.

The party may be united by the end of the week, but right now it is not the case, Newsom said.

Clinton backers are not being included, Clinton super delegate Chris Stampolis of Palo Alto said.

"From what I'm hearing in talking with other Californians, whether locally pledged Clinton delegates or supers who endorsed, is that we have yet to be invited into any strategy discussions about how to even begin that process of getting the Hillary team enthused," he said.

It is not just at the grass roots level, ABC and Time magazine political analyst Mark Halperin said.

"They left a lot of the hard issues to the end, that happens a lot on politics, and in this case there's not getting the hard issues done, they're going right down to the wire," Halperin said. "There are some issues, such as when President Clinton will speak, how long he will speak, but I think most of the issues are not procedural, but have to do with respect and have to do with a sense that both sides appreciate the grievances that the other side feels and I don't think they're close to being there."

Clinton's speech may be the most important of the convention so far, Newsom said , and she needs to remind her supporters what is at stake.

A side note to this story, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris says her refusal to wear a strip of white cloth on her wrist in support of Senator Clinton was not a sign of disrespect. A spokesman says when Harris was offered the ribbon, she was told it was in honor of the 88th anniversary of the women's right to vote. Why she did not wear the ribbon as a public show of solidarity on that issue, Harris's spokesman could not explain.


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