It was only a matter of time before the tensions boiled to the surface again:
DENVER — As Democrats arrived here Sunday for a convention intended to promote party unity, mistrust and resentments continued to boil among top associates of presumptive nominee Barack Obama and his defeated rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
One flashpoint is the assigned speech topic for former president Bill Clinton, who is scheduled to speak Wednesday night, when the convention theme is “Securing America’s Future.” The night’s speakers will argue that Obama would be a more effective commander in chief than his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
The former president is disappointed, associates said, because he is eager to speak about the economy and more broadly about Democratic ideas — emphasizing the contrast between the Bush years and his own record in the 1990s.
This is an especially sore point for Bill Clinton, people close to him say, because among many grievances he has about the campaign Obama waged against his wife is a belief that the candidate poor-mouthed the political and policy successes of his two terms.
Some senior Democrats close to Obama, meanwhile, made clear in not-for-attribution comments that they were equally irked at the Clinton operation. Nearly three months after Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the nomination contest, these Obama partisans complained, her team continues to act like she and Bill Clinton hold leverage.
After a period earlier this month when the two sides were working collegially over strategy, scheduling, and other convention logistics, things turned scratchy again in recent days.
Some senior Obama supporters are irritated at how they perceive the Clintons fanned — or at a minimum failed to douse — stories that she was not even vetted as a possible vice presidential nominee. This is because she told Obama she preferred not to go through the rigorous process of document production unless she was really a serious contender, an Obama associate noted.
One senior Obama supporter said the Clinton associates negotiating on her behalf act like “Japanese soldiers in the South Pacific still fighting after the war is over.”
A prominent Obama backer said some of Clinton’s lieutentants negotiating with the Obama team are “bitter enders” who presume that, rather than the Clintons reconciling themselves to Obama’s victory, it is up to Obama to accommodate them.
In fact, some senior veterans of Clinton’s presidential campaign do believe this.
I have no idea how “gracious” or not the Obama campaign has been towards Hillary and Bill Clinton, but once again we see how in the end to the Clintons that it’s not about Obama and helping him win the election, but instead preserving their place in the Democratic party – as well as repairing and securing Bill Clinton’s “legacy.”Â They feel like they helped build the party, especially duringÂ Bubba’s reign in the 1990s and essentially want a symbolic bow from Obama and Co. acknowledging that.Â Â Lastly, Hillary arguably won more votes during the primary/caucus campaign seasonÂ and it was a bitter pill for her to swallow that the person with the most votes in the end isn’t always the winner.Â Â
Taking advantage of all this Clinton/Obama infighting? Team McCain:
The McCain camp is running TV ads trying to exploit to anger and hurt feelings of Clinton supporters, questioning why Obama didn’t pick her as his VP in one ad and featuring Debra Bartoshevich, a former Clinton delegate, extolling McCain in another.
In the ad Bartoshevich says, “I’m a proud Hillary Clinton Democrat. She had the experience and judgment to be President. Now, in a first for me, I’m supporting a Republican, John McCain. I respect his maverick and independent streak, and now he’s the one with the experience and judgment. A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It’s okay, really!”
Marc Ambinder has a joint statement issued by both the Clinton and Obama camps trying to heavily downplay this story:
“We understand that some in the news media are more interested in reporting the rumor of controversy than the fact of unity. The fact is that our teams are working closely to ensure a successful convention and will continue to do so. Senator and President Clinton fully support the Obama/Biden ticket and look forward to addressing the convention and the nation on the urgency of victory this Fall. Anyone saying anything else doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Period.”
The reports about the continued tug of war going on between the two campaigns, all sound and fury signifying nothing? Don’t bank on it.
Related: Obama’s kingmaker, retiring Illinois Senate president Emil Jones, Jr., reportedly called a black Clinton delegate an “Uncle Tom”Â Â Saturday nightÂ in Denver.Â Â Supposedly it was saidÂ ‘inÂ jest’ (riiight!).
Hat tip to Â Ed Morrissey, who writes in response to the story:
Identity politics — it’s what’s for dinner in Denver. Can anyone doubt that this same kind of political tactic took place all over Chicago and the US?Â The fact that it’s still happening now says that Denver may turn out to be a meltdown — if not in front of the cameras, then off-stage.
If Team Obama wanted a show of unity from the Pepsi Center, this indicates that they haven’t achieved that goal, probably because they’ve never set the example.Â For a campaign that promised post-racial politicking, its candidate and surrogates haven’t been above race-baiting at the drop of a hat.Â This goes hand in hand with Obama’s repeated baseless smears of John McCain as a racist.Â Emil Jones just followed Obama’s lead, as Obama has followed his.
Anything to win, right?