Will Hillary rain on Obama’s parade?

T he story I’d been hearing for some time has finally come out in the open: Hillary Clinton, Bill, and many of her major financial supporters, known as “bundlers”, are so livid at what they see as underhanded play by the Obama team that they intend to eviscerate what ought to be Obama’s coronation at the Democratic Party Convention in Denver this week.

There are suggestions there will be a roll-call for delegates, in the hope that this crystallises the magnitude of Hillary’s support. All it would realistically do is highlight the rawness of the wounds from this year’s campaign battle – precisely what Obama wants to move on from.

But the Clintons are doing their best to resist. Only a week ago, Hillary’s supporters tried unsuccessfully to abolish caucuses, not least because Clinton’s supporters have long alleged that Obama won in Iowa – the crucial first caucus – because his supporters were bussed in from Illinois.

One New York-based Hillary bundler told me he is upset that Obama has not raised more than the $500,000 he promised towards helping her clear her debts (she still is $25 million in the red). He won’t be “bundling” for Obama. Apparently he is not alone. As of 30 June, only 10 of the 300 or so big Clinton bundlers had switched camps.

Angry Clintonites also say they still hold a grudge towards David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign chief, who sent an email to reporters highlighting Hillary’s “I will continue” speech back in May, where she had alluded to Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. “For Obama to come out, as he did, and say ‘we think it’s a non-story’ was ridiculous,” one Clinton backer told me. “Axelrod was the one pushing the story.” But Clinton’s biggest gripe remains Obama’s hiring of Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary’s former campaign chief, and the declaration that Solis Doyle would be chief of staff to whomever Obama picks as vice president. “That,” says someone close to the Clintons, was “interpreted as personal. To appoint the VP’s chief of staff months before you’ve picked a VP is highly unusual. It was as good as telling Hillary ‘It’s not going to be you’.”

From Obama’s perspective, one wonders, is he mad or clever, giving both Clintons the stage in prime-time, consecutive nights, before he speaks at the Convention?

One thing is for sure. When he finally appears in Denver, his speech needs to be better than his best so far. V

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