MA Democrats Divided

Massachusetts Democrats are divided over Barack Obama's hold on the Party's presidential nomination.

Some of Hillary Clinton's most prominent supporters say the only way for the presumptive nominee to unite the ranks behind him is if he asks Clinton to be his running mate.

Meanwhile, Party leaders also want to rally the fund-raisers to the cause, and they're suggesting half a billion dollars as a possible national goal. WBUR'S Fred Thys reports.


FRED THYS: Boston is a city of deep Democratic pockets. Massachusetts is one of four states where Barack Obama has raised the most money. Yesterday, Boston happened to be where Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, met with a large group of Obama's leading New England fund-raisers. There was talk of raising 500 million dollars for Obama in the general election. Alan Solomont leads Obama's New England fund-raising efforts.

ALAN SOLOMONT: I threw out the number 500 million, because what I said is that it is entirely possible that our campaign could raise as much as 500 million for the general election.

THYS: There was also talk of what it's going to take to bring Hillary Clinton's supporters on board. Solomont says you bring the Clinton people in by showing respect.

SOLOMONT: She forever changed the landscape for women candidates. I don't think ever again will the question be raised automatically: is this woman fit to be commander-in-chief?

THYS: People who attended the meeting said Dean promised to turn over the DNC's databases to the Obama campaign. And, of course, there was celebration.

DOROTHY KERVILLE: And some people had champagne!

THYS: Dorothy Kerville, of Boston, was one of almost 200 people in the gathering. She spoke outside the South Boston office building where it was held.

KERVILLE: I think we're going to have to give them some time, and I would call it a mourning period. It's a big loss for her.

THYS: Last night, Dean had dinner at a downtown restaurant, with a smaller group of Clinton supporters, to ask them for their financial backing for getting the vote out in November, for Obama and for Democratic candidates to Congress. Steve Grossman, who led Clinton's fund-raising efforts in Massachusetts, believes that the Clinton troops can't be expected to rally to Obama automatically.


STEVE GROSSMAN: I think it will take a little time. I think these things have a rhythm. I think Hillary has her pulse on the fingers of her supporters, her most passionate fund-raisers, and grass-roots activists of 18 million people, and those people are feeling rather low this morning.

THYS: Obama is moving ahead with the selection of a vice presidential candidate. He's appointed Caroline Kennedy as one of three people on a search committee. In Clinton's camp, some are pushing to have her be the running mate. Congressman Jim McGovern is among them.

JIM MCGOVERN: My view is that the best way to get people together is to have Hillary join the ticket. The person who comes in number two is going to be just as important, I believe, in terms of making sure the Democrats prevail in November, as the person who comes in number one. We need to be unified.

THYS: Some Clinton supporters are bothered with the rush to anoint Obama. Diane Saxe is one of Massachusetts' super delegates.

DIANE SAXE: There's going to be a vote taken in August, and as a super delegate, that's when I vote for the candidate, and so we're making assumptions now that Obama is the candidate without really having an election, without really having a nominating convention. So until my candidate tells me that it's over, it's not over.

THYS: Saxe says she gets 50 to 100 e-mails a day begging her to continue to support Clinton. She also believes that the only way to bring Democrats together is to make Clinton the vice-presidential candidate.

This program aired on June 5, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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