Howard Wolfson, former communications director for Hillary Clinton, has been writing for us from Denver. Here are his thoughts on the state of the Clinton-Obama rift (cross-posted at his blog, Gotham Acme).
The dominant storyline heading into this convention was division and discord among Democrats. And while some analysis and reporting of party rifts may have been overblown, Democrats did have work to do to during this last week to heal wounds drawn during a contentious 18 month primary fight.
Why was this important?
A USA Today/Gallup poll found just half of Clinton primary voters supporting Obama. These voters are obviously critical to Obama's success in November. They needed to hear from both Bill and Hillary Clinton that Obama was their choice. And they needed to see that Obama recognized the historic candidacy that Senator Clinton had run. The McCain campaign knew this. They did everything they could to stoke the tensions between Clinton's supporters and Obama by releasing a series of clever ads that featured Clinton attacking Obama and testifying for McCain.
So now, as Obama prepares to make his acceptance speech at Invesco Field, how did the Democrats do in achieving harmony and changing the media narrative?
Both Clintons gave strong, believable speeches in support of Obama's candidacy. Senator Clinton nominated him from the floor. And Obama encouraged the placement of Senator Clinton's name in nomination and offered praise for his former rival and the former president. More importantly, I'm betting he will have words of praise for both tonight.
The fight for Senator Clinton's supporters--especially those women over 40--will go on for the next two months between the McCain and Obama campaigns, and many may waver until the last minute. Some columnists will remain determined to concoct examples of a secret Clinton plan to undermine Obama. But the healing has begun and Democrats leave Denver largely united.