ShareThis Page

Bill tells Obama backers to 'chill'

| Monday, March 31, 2008

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Former President Clinton says Democrats concerned about what the deadlocked presidential contest between his wife and Barack Obama may be doing to the party should just "chill out" and let the race run its course.

Bill Clinton dismissed suggestions by Obama supporters that Hillary Rodham Clinton was damaging the party by staying in the race even though she is behind in delegates and unlikely to overtake the Illinois senator based on the contests to come.

"There is somehow the suggestion that because we are having a vigorous debate about who would be the best president, we are going to weaken this party in the fall," he said Sunday at the state Democratic Party convention. "Chill out.

"We're going to win this election if we just chill out and let everybody have their say," Clinton added.

Obama said Saturday that Clinton should stay in the race.

"My attitude is Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants," he told reporters in Pennsylvania, where he is campaigning for that state's April 22 primary.

The former president flew in from Pennsylvania to make his pitch at the convention, which attracted a large number of superdelegates, the elected officials and party insiders who will determine whether Hillary Clinton or Obama gets the nomination.

Nearly one-third of California's 65 named delegates have yet to choose sides. Unlike the pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses, superdelegates are free to vote for whichever candidate they want.

Of those who have made up their minds in California, Clinton is far ahead, according to a survey by The Associated Press. She has 29 superdelegates to Obama's 13. Twenty-one are undecided or say they will not commit before the party's national convention in August. Two have not responded.

California will have one more delegate when the San Francisco Bay area congressional seat left vacant by the death of Tom Lantos is filled.

Five others will be appointed by the party on May 18, bringing the total to 71.

Clinton delivered a similar message during a private meeting with a couple dozen superdelegates before the speech.

"He talked a little bit about letting the process play out," said Christine Pelosi, an undecided superdelegate from San Francisco who attended and described Clinton as "very good, very intense."

Undecided superdelegates say they see no urgency to make up their minds, despite the campaigns' pleas.

Bob Rankin, an uncommitted superdelegate from Carson, near Long Beach, was still figuring out how to make up his mind.

While Obama leads nationally in the popular vote and in pledged delegates, Clinton won both overwhelmingly in California. Voters in Rankin's congressional district chose Obama, while his congresswoman, Laura Richardson, backed Clinton.

Rankin said Obama called him two weeks ago to urge him to make up his mind.

"He wanted to end this thing now for the good of the party," Rankin said. "I told him I was not ready to do that."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.