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Obama's First Challenge: Clintonite Bitterness

Monday, 25 Aug 2008 | 5:57 PM ET

A principal concern of Barack Obama's campaign is preventing lingering tensions with Hillary Clinton and her supporters from clouding the message he wants the Democratic National Convention in Denver to convey to swing voters: about his life story, about the shortcomings of John McCain, and about his own vision for the country.

Supporting Hillary
Discussing why delegates will be voting for Clinton at the Democratic convention, with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., and Steve Forbes, Forbes CEO

They worry because some Clinton allies remain very unhappy -- and don't mind saying so, even if Hillary and Bill Clinton themselves deliver gracious speeches this week. In an interview this morning, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, a Clinton super-delegate during the primary season, said she still plans to vote for Clinton when the New York senator's name is placed in nomination.

Why hasn't she joined so many other Democrats in endorsing her party's presumptive nominee? "He hasn't asked," Ms. Sanchez replied.

Why are so many Clinton supporters still uneasy about Mr. Obama?

"She needs to get her debt paid down," Ms. Sanchez explained. "The fact that Barack's people have not helped when he has this money machine behind him, suggests that he hasn't pushed his people hard enough, or his people haven't pushed their donors or others hard enough and I think that's something that really grates on some of the Clinton supporters."

Why should Mrs. Clinton's name be placed in nomination, when some Democratic stalwarts consider that a distraction from Mr. Obama's moment in the spotlight?

"What people in the party are saying when they say these things, they don't see the disaffection going on at grass-roots level," Ms. Sanchez countered. "Why aren't we further ahead? Why are we neck-and-neck in some of those polls? And I again think the issue is that Barack Obama and his people need to realize all the Democrats need to come together and we all have to go out and work for him, but he has to make the ask, and his people have not done that effectively."

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