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In last-minute switch, Clinton agrees to Q&A with YearlyKos attendees
Nick Juliano
Published: Friday August 3, 2007

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Sen. Hillary Clinton has re-arranged her campaign schedule so she can participate in a small question-and-answer session Saturday with attendees at this weekend's YearlyKos conference in Chicago, RAW STORY has learned.

Two Clinton campaign advisers told RAW STORY that the New York Democrat, who is the frontrunner for her party's presidential nomination, will participate in a "breakout session" with conference-goers Saturday before participating in a larger forum with the other Democratic candidates. Clinton is re-arranging a scheduled appearance at the National Association of Police Organizationsí 29th Annual Convention, also in Chicago, to expand her appearance at YearlyKos, the aides said.

Clinton originally did not plan on participating in the breakout session because she had to return to New York immediately after the forum Saturday night for a prior commitment, her campaign said. Billionaire Ron Perelman is hosting a $1,000-per-person Clinton fundraiser that night in the Hamptons on Long Island; it is part of a weekend-long series of fundraisers in the exclusive enclave that is expected to add $1 million to the New York senator's presidential campaign fund.

YearlyKos attendees were told late Thursday that Clinton would be unable to attend a breakout session with 200 or so liberal bloggers and activists who traveled to the convention. Organizers cited miscommunication between Clinton's staff and YearlyKos organizers for the late notice that she hadn't planned to attend the session.

"We've been doing everything we can to rearrange her schedule," Clinton Internet director Peter Daou told RAW STORY.

Now Clinton will participate in a smaller forum with YearlyKos attendees before the Presidential Leadership Forum in front of the full 1,500 or so attendees.

The campaign's disclosure to RAW STORY that she would attend came after an article was posted noting criticism of her previous decision from the campaign of Clinton's top rival.

"Why turn down the opportunity to hear from people excited about bringing change to Washington and new leadership to the White House?" a spokeswoman for Barack Obama's campaign, Jen Psaki, said in an e-mail to RAW STORY earlier Friday.†"It is Barack Obama's birthday and he can't think of a better place to be."

The comment is the latest salvo sent Clinton's way from the Obama camp as exchanges between the top two Democratic contenders has heated up in recent weeks. The stepped-up sparring began last month over the candidates' foreign policy positions, and the candidates have been trading increasingly sharp barbs since then.

Clinton's earlier decision and its last-minute announcement upset many conference attendees who had already reserved a spot for what they thought would be an up-close encounter with the Democratic frontrunner. By the time attendees learned Clinton would not be attending, tickets to breakout sessions with other candidates already were sold out.

Daily Kos contributor el gandor said several attendees were upset when they learned they would be unable to register for another breakout session.

"And, notice to the Clinton campaign - the rumbling was unanimous - we WANT to give Hillary a chance. WE WANT TO. Seriously. But this was just effing rude," el gandor wrote in a post entitled "Effing Hillary Jilts Kossacks!".

The post, which went live Thursday evening just after the announcement, generated hundreds of comments, and prompted a response from YearlyKos Convention Executive Director Gina Cooper, who said "Yearlykos wholeheartedly disagrees" with el gandor's sentiment and explained the miscommunication.

"We are ecstatic she will be attending the forum and that Anne Lewis will be representing her in the breakout session," Cooper wrote.

El gandor updated her post and apologized to the Clinton campaign, but the diarist lamented the miscommunication and the impression it left with attendees.

"But I SINCERELY wish that this had been communicated better at the end of the keynote," el gandor wrote. "I assure you that I and my mom were NOT the only ones who jumped to the conclusion that we had been snubbed."