Denver Diary, Pt 4 Hillary Scores

Last Thursday, I watched Hillary Clinton urge a couple of hundred seniors at the Kings Point development in Tamarac to vote for Barack Obama.

Tonight, I watched her do it again, in front of thousands at the Pepsi Center and millions tuned in on TV. 

What a difference.  Not just in the setting.  In Hillary.

In Tamarac, she said all the expected stuff– lauded Obama, panned McCain.  But it lacked passion.

Wilma Silver had noticed, and it worried her.  Silver, an Obama delegate, says many of her neighbors at the Palm-Aire development are still mad that Clinton lost, and slow to warm to Obama.  “That’s what they’re saying.  They’re going to vote for McCain because they wanted Hillary so badly.”

Ms. Silver worried, unless Hillary gave it her all in her convention speech, those neighbors, many of them elderly and Jewish, might be beyond persuasion by the Obama campaign.

I called her on her cell moments after Senator Clinton walked off the stage, while the hall was still rocking.  About the only word I could make out clearly was “Fantasic!”  A long-time Clintonista who says she’s warming to Obama– former State Rep. Elaine Bloom– offered another enthusiastic one-word review: “Spectacular.”

OK, they’re partisans, and delegates have been known to spin reporters.  But the energy Clinton brought to her rhetorical task wasn’t hard to see.  Maybe it was the lights, cameras, and action in the convention hall.  Maybe it was the knowledge that her viability as a Presidential candidate in the future (2012, if Obama loses) would be badly damaged if Obama Democrats found her effort tepid.  Maybe, said one long-time Hillary fan, it was simply well-placed teleprompters that allowed her to put a little more emotion behind her message.

Whatever the motivation, she was hot right out of the gate, with vivid declarations of support for Obama, aimed squarely at her disappointed devotees.  “You haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last 8 years, to suffer through more failed leadership.  No way. No how. No McCain.”

It brought a roar, and the crowd stayed loud throughout the speech.  In fact, toward the end, she began stepping on her own applause, reading even through standing ovations.  Her speech might have run another five minutes longer, if she hadn’t.

Republicans, of course, have already employed videotape of Hillary in their attack ads against Obama, to wit :”I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House.  And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.”

This speech should put to rest any question of who Clinton prefers.   Now those looking for signs of discord between the Clintons and the Obama camp will parse Bill Clinton’s speech on Wednesday night.

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