Hillary Clinton gave a preview of tonight’s speech for a group of supporters in Denver earlier today, and it didn’t feature Barack Obama — at all. Peter Nicholas covered the event for the LA Times, and reports that Hillary never asked her backers to support Obama, only urging their support for “all our nominees”. If that’s the strategy she takes tonight, the snub could be historic:
She previewed the speech she is to deliver later tonight, saying, “I believe with all my heart that the Democratic Party represents a much better future for everything we believe in and care about and I will be making a very strong case tonight that we stand behind our nominees in order to keep pushing progress forward.’’
Clinton also made reference to a sore point during the primary: gender bias. Commending the hosts of the event, an organization called WomenCount, she said, “I urge all of you to support women running at all levels of government, but also on behalf of other concerns that were raised during the course of the campaign. WomenCount will continue to stand up against the pervasive bias we saw in the media.’’
Clinton stood on a small stage with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, who did not give a speech. In her opening, Clinton talked about this being a historic week, marking the anniversary of both Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream’’ speech, as well as the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. But in talking about the week’s significance she did not mention that convention delegates would be nominating the Democratic Party’s first African-American candidate: Obama.
Does this sound familiar to Hot Air readers? Just two months ago, Obama “forgot” to mention Hillary in a speech intended to help her raise money to retire her debt. This looks like payback, at least if she adds him in later tonight. If not, then it looks like Hillary has decided not to bother supporting Obama and instead focus on her own future in politics by ensuring a path to the nomination in 2012.
Nor is this unprecedented. As George Stephanopolous notes, a Republican seized the moment at a convention which he narrowly lost and set the stage for his eventual triumph:
Sore losers cripple Presidential nominees. Think of what Ronald Reagan did to Gerald Ford in 1976. After Ford crushed Reagan’s late challenge and refused to offer him the VP slot, he had to beg Reagan to speak at the convention. The 798 words he got were no help. Barely a mention of Ford, not a word of praise. While Reagan’s ringing defense of the GOP platform laid the groundwork for his 1980 campaign, it did nothing for Ford — who barely lost to Jimmy Carter come November.
Carter also got his comeuppance from Ted Kennedy in 1980, but that was more or less a dog-in-the-manger ploy, as Kennedy knew 1980 was his last chance to win the White House. Hillary may have looked at the Reagan example as a template for her own ambitions. In the speech earlier today, she positioned herself as the champion of civil rights and the heir of Dr. King, a rather bold assertion given Obama’s position at this convention.
Put together with Bill Clinton’s remarks earlier today as well, it looks like the Clintons have decided to only give grudging and tepid support to Barack Obama. Perhaps Hillary will change her mind by tonight, but the Clintons appear ready to take full control of their two days in the Denver spotlight.