Clinton to be in spotlight at Demo convention

Published: Friday, Aug. 15 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

Democratic presidential candidate and presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama body surfs at Sandy Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, Thursday. Obama is in Hawaii for a vacation before the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Turns out Democratic primary loser Hillary Rodham Clinton will get time to shine at the party's national convention after all — and quite a bit of it.

Democrats officially will choose Barack Obama to run against Republican John McCain this month. But in an emblematic move meant to heal divisive primary wounds, the vanquished Clinton name also will be placed in nomination alongside his during the traditional state-by-state delegation roll call vote at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

And, she gets her own plum speaking slot.

So does her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Voting on Clinton's name "could prove interesting," said Utah Democratic Party executive director Todd Taylor, "but won't change the outcome" — Democrats will still nominate Obama for president.

Nine of the 29 Utah delegates to the convention are under a "moral, but no legal" requirement to vote for Clinton, based on candidate proportional results of the Utah Democratic presidential primary election last Feb. 5, said Taylor.

"Officially, the delegates are supposed to respect the wishes of those who elected them. But really, they can vote for whomever they like," said Taylor, who doesn't have a vote in the convention.

U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and the other five so-called "superdelegates" from Utah have all endorsed Obama. But Matheson isn't going to the convention — he hasn't gone to one since he won office in 2000 — and his vote can't be replaced. So Utah will have only 28 votes at the convention.

Taylor said he imagines that when Utah's name is called in the official roll call of states, nine votes will go for Clinton and 19 votes for Obama.

Donald Dunn, Utah chairman of the Clinton campaign, said Thursday that he believes it is appropriate and right that Clinton's Utah delegates get the chance to vote for her.

"Democrats stand for counting each vote, and I'm proud we're going to do this in our convention," said Dunn, the former Utah Democratic Party chairman.

All of the high-profile Clinton action, spread over at least half of the convention's four prime-time speaking nights, ensures an enormous presence for the couple who have been national fixtures in the Democratic Party since 1992 — and whose latest White House bid, hers, split the party into for-them or against-them camps.

Among the risks: past leaders of the party overshadowing the current standard-bearer.

In fact, the party has a history of other Democrats showing-up the guest of honor.

The keynote speaker four years ago — Obama — seemed to get more love and better reviews during the 2004 convention in Boston than hometown nominee John Kerry, who selected the up-and-comer to speak. Jesse Jackson stole Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis' show in Atlanta in 1988, and Ted Kennedy's "dream will never die" speech brought down New York's Madison Square Garden during Jimmy Carter's 1980 soiree.

To guard against that, Obama's keynote speaker — Mark Warner of Virginia — will deliver his address the same day Clinton does — Aug. 26 — while the ex-president shares the next day — Aug. 27 — with the as-yet-named vice presidential running mate. On the final convention night, Aug. 28, Obama will accept the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination before a much bigger crowd at a separate venue.

Historically, the roll call has occurred on the convention's third night. That's still likely, although Democrats say the mechanics of how the vote will play out still are being determined. When it occurs, Clinton — herself a superdelegate who gets a vote — is expected to release her delegates to Obama, announce her support for him and ask her backers to do the same.

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