Clinton's exit crucial
- Clinton's exit crucial
Time is of the essence for Democratic Party to reunite
BY TODD SPANGLER � FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF � June 6, 2008
WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton's rally in the nation's capital Saturday --
where she's expected to announce her support for Barack Obama's presidential
candidacy -- will come not a moment too soon for a Democratic Party
desperate for peacemaking between the two rivals' camps.
If the ire in some Clinton supporters' comments is an indication, it may be
too late for some.
"I'm not calling myself a Democrat anymore," Jane Frick, a 68-year-old
retired English teacher who lives in Clarkston, said Thursday. She said she
and her husband, both Clinton supporters, are abandoning the party after a
lifetime of political commitment.
"We are really pulling out," she said. "We're going to be independents. I
don't want to commit to something like the Democratic Party which has messed
up the primary like they have."
She said she might back presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in the
Nov. 4 general election.
Her remarks, and others like them, played out in e-mails and phone calls and
Internet board postings Thursday as the reality of Clinton's loss in the
race for the Democratic nomination and her impending departure from the race
It leaves Obama as the first nonwhite American citizen to capture enough
delegates to become the presidential nominee of a major U.S. political
party. It's an immense opportunity and an incredible challenge: How to bring
together a party divided between two popular candidates.
Many people, like 61-year-old Thomas Wilson Jr., a Detroit physical
education teacher, were thrilled with Obama's feat. An African American,
Wilson described the "feeling of elation" watching Obama capture the
"I never thought that during my lifetime I would witness such an event of
historical magnitude," he wrote.
While some said they could easily make the switch from Clinton to Obama,
others were far less pleased.
On freep.com, one writer with a screen name of "baitm," wrote: "I AM A
DEMOCRAT THAT WILL NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA. I EVEN CONTACTED THE DNC (Democratic
National Committee) TO REMOVE ME FROM ALL OF THEIR LISTS." The writer
promised to support McCain "unless they get it together."
Clinton's rally in Washington on Saturday at noon at the National Building
Museum will attempt to do just that.
She will thank supporters and formally endorse rival Barack Obama, who
clinched the nomination on Tuesday.
The former first lady is expected to urge Democrats to unite behind Obama
and help him defeat Republican John McCain in November.
However, the unification effort may not be enough.
Frick reacted to comments that Democratic activist and consultant Mark
Grebner of Lansing made in a Free Press story. He said he didn't know any
Democrats who wouldn't return to Obama in November's general election.
Think again, she said, questioning Obama's sincerity, his depth on the
issues and the substance of his policy plans. She blamed him for blocking a
do-over election in Michigan that would have settled the state's disallowed
primary without awarding him votes he didn't directly win.
"It seemed to us Obama was being supported not because he was the best
candidate but because he was black," she said.
Dave Milon, who also voted in the disallowed Jan. 15 primary for Clinton,
said he could have supported either Democrat but "soured" when Obama blocked
a do-over contest for Michigan.
(Obama's advisers have flatly denied suggestions by the Clinton campaign
that he was the barrier to a do-over contest. But his camp did raise
concerns about the suggestions the Clinton camp put forward for do-over
He's angry about what he says was a violation of his constitutional rights,
the fact that his primary vote didn't matter in the end.
"As much as I dislike Republicans, I'm pissed off enough I just might vote
for McCain," said Milon, a 58-year-old retired welder who lives in Lincoln
He did offer a suggestion, though, that might change his mind -- Clinton as
Obama's running mate.
"If they put Hillary on there, I might have to rethink everything," he said.
Contact TODD SPANGLER at 202-906-8203 or at tspangler@.... The
Associated Press contributed to this story.
-Charles C. Primas
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