CONVENTION SPECIAL: Hillary Rocks Pepsi Center, Disunity threats were just tempest in a teapot

By Christopher Krohn
Wednesday August 27, 2008 - 11:49:00 AM

DENVER—Many wondered, often aloud, how Clinton delegates would react Tuesday night on the floor of the Pepsi Center at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Would the Clintonistas call for a role call vote? Might they go a bit farther and get into an old-fashioned floor fight started by those seeking to throw the nomination into contention and controversy, and risk losing the November election? I spoke earlier in the day with several delegates and elected officials, who were wary, not panicked, but concerned about this scenario. 

Hillary Clinton put these rumors to rest from the moment her husband Bill Clinton entered the arena last night. Well before she took to the podium, 20,000 heads turned to get a glimpse of the former president as he entered a second deck box far from the podium. He was met with sporadic bursts of loud applause, whoops and hollers. Make no mistake, Bill Clinton still commands star power and he will be at the podium to great fanfare tonight from these party faithful. And pity the poor Montana governor, Brian Schweitzer, who was at the podium speaking when Bill arrived. When Hillary did take to the stage, she received a loud minute and a half ovation from the overflow crowd. In fact, this reporter witnessed an over the top, boisterous, pro-Clinton Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, who seemed to still hold out hope for Clinton. Rendell alone gave Clinton seven or eight standing ovations, compared with the 4 or 5 the crowd participated in.  

But no matter what some of her delegates might have been thinking and saying before last night, Clinton was not going down any road that would put a Barack Obama nomination in limbo, or jeopardy. 

Clinton’s first words left little doubt where she was throwing her support, “I’m a proud Senator, a proud mother and a proud supporter of Barack Obama.” As the night wore on her words of support only grew deeper, not only for Obama, but also for his wife Michelle and for vice presidential candidate Joe Biden. Speaking to her delegates she was firm. “The time is now to unite as a single party. We are on the same team and we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines.” 

Clinton had only praise for the nominee and his spouse, “She (Michelle Obama) will be a great first lady for America." She said of Obama, "He is tough. He is pragmatic. He is wise.” She added, “They (Obama and Biden) will make a great team.” 

The unity placards quickly appeared all over the arena. ‘Obama,’ or ‘Hillary’ on one side and ‘unity’ on the other, with the former rivals’ names in equal numbers.  

“She hit a homerun, triple, double, single, and then went in to pitch and struck out the side,” glowed former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. “There’s not a Democrat in America who does not understand the importance of this election.” Congressmember Barbara Lee added, “She (Clinton) couldn’t have done it better.” Longtime California Democratic guru and campaign advisor Bob Mulholland was very clear about her performance, using another baseball analogy, “Oh, out of the park! She exceeded expectations and Barack Obama must be very pleased.” 

It was a night to bury the political hatchet. The overflowing crowd-the fire marshal is definitely not doing his job-left enthused, and had to be relieved that any potential controversy was extinguished. The path was now clear and the road paved for Biden and Obama coronation speeches on Thursday. Hillary Clinton did her job last night as a loyal Democrat.