As Clinton prepares to speak, reluctant supporters coalesce behind Obama
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 5:23 pm
With Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention just hours away, many of the New York senator’s committed feminist supporters are softening toward the Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket.
While steadfast Clinton supporters are clamoring for her nomination on the floor of the convention tomorrow, there are indications that the disappointment and disillusionment of the past several months are slowly melting away as Clinton backers heed the call for party unity.
Formally, women’s leaders are signaling their support for the presumptive nominee. Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women, said in a statement Saturday that “Senator Hillary Clinton was our first choice, and that of 18 million primary voters, but presumptive Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama’s pick, Joe Biden, is a friend of women and a strong selection for Vice President.”
Biden has won points with many high profile women’s rights leaders by authoring the twice-renewed 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which allocated $1.6 billion toward prevention and services for survivors.
Gandy, who spoke yesterday in Denver at a Women’s Equalitea party hosted by NOW, Feminist Majority, and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, among others, said before her presentation that her group was considering endorsing Obama.
“We are a grass roots organization — bottom up — and we did a deliberative process before we did the Clinton endorsement,” Gandy said. NOW will consult with its state level officers, local chapters, and the national board before switching its allegiance to Obama.Other feminist speakers were more explicit about their support for the Illinois senator, regardless of his vice presidential pick.
“It won’t be long before we have someone in the White House who not only has a heart but has a brain. What that means for women is that we will have someone who understands our power,” said California Rep. Lynn Woolsey to an audience of congresswomen, delegates and feminist organizers, many of whom were wearing buttons that read “Hillary supports Obama. So do I.”
“I know John McCain, I know Barack Obama and I know Joe Biden,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer. “There are some people hurting from the primary. We must be united. We can’t afford to elect John McCain.”
“I don’t want to talk about the past. John McCain has a zero voting record from NARAL [Pro-Choice America],” she continued, as the audience hissed.
Other speakers lauded Obama’s direction in this year’s Democratic Party platform, which calls for protected abortion rights, an extension of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and an end to sexism in the media.
“If you have not read the platform, you have to,” said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “It is the strongest I have seen since I learned to read.”
“We are standing taller because of Hillary’s work,” she said.