Clinton frees delegates, Obama roll call next
DENVER - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton released her remaining convention delegates on Wednesday as Democrats were poised to formally deliver the party's presidential nomination to Barack Obama, making him the first black nominee of a major party.
As many in the room yelled, "No," Clinton said that, while she was releasing the delegates she had won in the primaries, "I am not telling you what to do. You've come here from so many different places having made this journey and feeling in your heart what is right for you to do."
Suspense still remained over the voting process — and whether and when a planned roll-call vote would be cut off to give Obama the nomination by acclamation.
Obama planned a mid-afternoon arrival in the convention city after campaigning in Montana.
Meanwhile, former President Clinton, who was a prime-time Wednesday headliner along with Obama running mate Joe Biden, planned to make a forceful endorsement of the man who forced his wife out of the race and to make the case that Obama is ready to confront any domestic, international or national security challenge, said an aide.
Bill Clinton will say in a roughly eight-minute speech that only a Democrat in the White House can "restore America's standing to what it was eight years ago," said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to pre-empt the former president's speech.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, presiding officer of the Democratic National Convention, predicted the roll-call voting after the names of both Obama and Clinton were put in nomination would go "very smoothly."
"Are you ready for victory? Then you must be ready for unity. That is the only way we are going to win and have this victory," she told Iowa's convention delegates.
Many details remained unknown, however, including how many states would vote before somebody — probably Clinton herself — asked the delegates to give the nomination to Obama by acclamation.
Clinton won 18 million votes in primary-season contests but failed to earn her party's nomination.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who had been a Clinton supporter, suggested in an interview with The Associated Press that some delegates would vote for Clinton no matter what she said, and that any motion to move to an unanimous convention ballot would draw "a few no's."
Obama will give his acceptance speech on Thursday to as many as 75,000 people at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.
Then, on Friday, Obama, his wife Michelle and running mate Joe Biden and his wife Jill will embark on a three-day bus tour of battleground states Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.
Representatives of the Clinton and Obama teams struck a deal setting ground rules for the roll call vote that will hand the nomination to Obama but will also allow Clinton supporters to express their support for her.
Advisers to Clinton and Obama sent a joint letter to state delegation chairs instructing them to distribute vote tally sheets to delegates Wednesday and return them before the vote got under way.
The letter, first obtained Tuesday night by The Associated Press, said Clinton would have one nominating speech and two seconding speeches, followed by Obama's nominating speech and three seconding speeches — totaling no more than 15 minutes for each candidate. Then the roll call would begin, said the letter signed by Obama senior adviser Jeff Berman, Clinton senior adviser Craig Smith and convention secretary Alice Germond.
Kathleen Krehbiel, an Iowa delegate who had supported Clinton, credited the New York senator's convention speech Tuesday night for finally persuading her to cross the line and vote for Obama.
"My horse is out of the race. I'm getting out to work for Obama," Krehbiel said. But, she added, "I think there are a few delegates who need to vote for Hillary to reach that point of closure."
In a sign of unity, Obama adviser Berman and Clinton adviser Smith told delegates on Wednesday that they had been working out of the same office all week to ensure a smooth convention.
"The story is that we are working as a team," Berman said.
Anticipating Wednesday night's focus on national security at the convention, Republican John McCain contended in a new TV ad that Obama showed he was "dangerously unprepared" for the White House when he described Iran as a "tiny" nation that didn't pose a serious threat.
"Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism. Developing nuclear capabilities to 'generate power' but threatening to eliminate Israel," says the ad, which was being run in key states. "Terrorism, destroying Israel — those aren't 'serious threats'"?
Missing from the ad was the context of Obama's remarks last May in which he compared Iran and other adversarial governments to the superpower Soviet Union. "They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us," he said in arguing for talks with Iran. "You know, Iran, they spend one-100th of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance."