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Before Obama Nomination, A Roll Call For Clinton

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel

In Denver, the nomination of Barack Obama gets underway in this hour. And a dramatic moment this afternoon in preparation for the roll call, Hillary Clinton met with her supporters.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): I am here today to release you as my delegates.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Sen. CLINTON: Now…

SIEGEL: Clinton went on to tell her unhappy supporters that it's now up to them how they vote.

Joining us now from the Pepsi Center in Denver is NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON: Hello, Robert.

SIEGEL: And, first of all, what have you been hearing from supporters of Hillary Clinton?

LIASSON: Well, from supporters of Hillary Clinton, I've been hearing a lot of mixed feelings. Last night, they thought she was absolutely fabulous. For a lot of them, it just affirmed their feelings that she should have been the nominee or at least the vice presidential nominee.

But that being said, I think most of them are getting to the stage where they are willing to do what she asks them to do, which is rally behind Barack Obama. Of course, there are going to be some diehard Hillary supporters who won't. But I do think that she accomplished a lot of what she said have to accomplish, which was to unify the party.

I think the bigger problem for Barack Obama about this is you know, he has a nickname in the campaign, no drama Obama.

SIEGEL: Mm-hmm.

LIASSON: He likes things kind of cool, disciplined. But the Clintons are the reverse of that. And there has been a lot of drama here, more than I think Obama would have wanted. And it has centered around the Clintons, both of them.

SIEGEL: Now, first, what's actually going on in the convention hall right now, Mara?

LIASSON: Well, what's actually going to go on now is Barack Obama is going to be formally nominated, so is Hillary Clinton. The states are going to turn in their tally sheets. We're going to have seven speeches, a nominating speech and two second (unintelligible) speeches for Hillary Clinton and then a nominating speech on three second (unintelligible) speech for Barack Obama.

Then, there will be a roll call. The magic number is 2,210. However, it's very likely that at some point, before one of them reaches that, Obama obviously, maybe when we get to New York state, Hillary Clinton herself, who has plans to announce her own state's tabulation of delegates, will say we should stop the roll call and nominate Obama by acclamation.

You heard her say in the clip you just played. She's releasing her delegates. She didn't tell them she wants them to vote for him, but she also didn't say she wants them to vote for her. She said they should do what they want.

SIEGEL: But it does sound amazingly like a political convention, what you're describing right there.

LIASSON: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LIASSON: Isn't that incredible because we thought they were extinct. Right.

SIEGEL: I know. Two speakers tonight, first, Joe Biden is going to speak. What do we expect to hear from him?

LIASSON: Well, Joe Biden is going to introduce himself to the American people. He's not well known. We've seen in the polls that there haven't really been any bump at all from his addition to the ticket. He also is going to take the bark off John McCain, that is one of the prime responsibility of the vice presidential candidate.

And I also think he's going to make a pitch for kind of older white middle class and working class families so that they can relate to the Democratic ticket and particularly to Barack Obama.

He's been described by Obama as the scrappy kid from Scranton, Scranton, of course now, becoming the ground zero for those white working class voters that Obama has been trouble reaching. And I think he wants to lend a little bit of his own white Catholic middle class creed to Obama. And I think you're going to hear him do a kind of a more elaborate version of what he did in Springfield, Illinois when he was added to the ticket.

SIEGEL: And the other big speaker tonight is Bill Clinton.

LIASSON: Well, Bill Clinton is going to say exactly what he wants to say. And nobody knows exactly what that is…

(Soundbite of laughter)

LIASSON: …because the Obama campaign has not been able to vet his speech as they wanted to. But I do expect him to make the case for Obama in a very full throated and eloquent way that only he can. And I also think he's going to make the case for his own legacy at the same time.

SIEGEL: Okay. Thank you, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Robert Siegel
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.
Mara Liasson
Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.