Hillary-Pledged Delegates in California Face Dilemma

Hillary ClintonTonight Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the delegates on the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment (Women’s Right to Vote). Many women are wearing white in commemoration of the movement. Suffragettes wore white, green, and violet which, if you take the first letter of the three colors stands for: Women Get the Vote. Today, I’m wearing a white blouse and a string of fluorite (green and violet) in solidarity with the women who fought for our right to vote. Hillary delegates have been urged to wear white, however, many other women may also do so today, so if you’re watching on tv, every white top or outfit does NOT necessarily mean that they’re Hillary delegates.

So many rumors are flying around Denver about what the Hillary delegates intend to do when the nomination voting gets underway tomorrow evening. I thought I’d share with you some of the experiences I’ve had so far. Some I will keep to myself for now, as they aren’t worthy of discussion or response.

Since I got here, Hillary delegates have been pressured by other Clinton delegates to take vote for Hillary no matter what. I would say that those applying the pressure are in the minority, however, they are loud and very passionate. Some delegates have been yelled at for sporting Obama buttons, others have been told that they are required legally to vote for Hillary if they are pledged to her.

This morning, at the California delegation breakfast, famed discrimination attorney, Gloria Allred, walked through the ballroom gagged with a wine-colored scarf, waving another scarf as she attempted to disrupt the proceedings. Another Hillary delegate followed her through the hall bearing a pro Hillary sign.

Allred, who I managed to be in line with as we left the Pepsi Center last night, had asked me to pass along the word that the California Hillary delegates would be meeting after the breakfast to anyone I ran into. So, after the morning’s performance, Marty Schrank and I stuck around, along with others and the media…lots of press.

According to Allred, we are required to vote for Hillary by party rules. She read a passage from the DNC rules and another from the State rules that she interpreted as binding for pledged delegates to vote for the nominee to whom they were pledged. She let it be known that she believed we were beholden to those who elected us to represent Hillary to vote for her even if she releases us to vote for Obama.

Let me back up a minute…when I got to the credentialing area this morning, several folks with white ribbons were asking Clinton delegates to take a ribbon as a pledge to vote for Hillary when the nomination vote occurs tomorrow. Each was numbered to designate the number of delegates (300) who had turned in an affidavit stating their commitment to vote for Hillary for nomination.

Others who wish to express their support for the Women’s Vote anniversary could grab a plain white ribbon.

The Dilemma

Should Hillary delegates vote for Clinton and risk damaging the Democratic Party’s image going in to the November election, or should they stand by the nominee-apparent and cast their first ballot for Obama?

Here are the arguments I’ve heard at various events and mixers:

Vote for Hillary:

1.       Those who elected us to be Hillary delegates, expect us to vote for her no matter what.

2.       This is a democratic process and if we follow the rules we have to vote for Hillary.

3.       Hillary won 12 million votes and we should show our respect for the huge number of voters who supported her by voting for her during the nomination vote.

4.       Hillary has not formally released her delegates.

5.       Hillary didn’t lose (believe it or not, there are still some supporters who are claiming that she won.

Support Barack:

1.       Hillary released the delegates to vote their conscience and to stick together for the sake of her Health Care plan (I was in on the conference call shortly after the primaries when Harold Ickes  said as much, HOWEVER, many delegates interpret this statement to be a code phrase urging us to vote for her because that SHOULD be what our conscience dictates. See Video on Open Thread Day 2 post.

2.       We have a representative government. As such, there are times when any elected official has to decide whether a to vote for what they believe to be in the public’s best interest or to fulfill a campaign promise even if it means that they now see the issue differently and need to change their minds.

3.       This election is too important to throw away just because some Hillary delegates can’t get over the fact that they lost. This statement is one of the reasons Clinton delegates feel they’re being treated badly by the Obama campaign.

4.       We need to have a united front as we end this campaign so that undecided voters and others don’t become disenchanted and decide not to come out and vote.

 Reporters Looking for a Scoop…

Yesterday, a reporter working with Chuck Todd (MSNBC) who asked me in several different ways how I was going to vote and what I thought about the disgruntled or “Hillary Only” delegates and what I thought might happen tomorrow night. He followed me through a bus trip and a few blocks walking while I deflected those potentially controversial subjects.

When asked directly how I would vote, I told him that I choose to keep that to myself because I’m getting pressure from different sides and would like to hear from the party about how I should proceed. Today, I’ve talked to several people whose insight and knowledge about party politics at the highest levels to get some perspective. I’m still talking. More on that tomorrow after Hillary speaks this evening. I’m looking forward to hearing her…after all, she’s still my girl.