Clinton to have own floor whips at Dem convention

August 21, 2008 7:27:39 PM PDT
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's delegates will have their own organizers on the floor of the Democratic National Convention, an unusual move at a convention that is being billed as unified. Clinton's supporters will have about 40 organizers, or whips, said Clinton campaign spokeswoman Kathleen Strand. Whips traditionally enforce discipline among a candidate's supporters, making sure they vote according to plan.

These whips, however, will not encourage delegates to vote for Clinton over the presumptive nominee, Barack Obama, Strand said. They also weren't instructed to intervene if Clinton delegates start an anti-Obama protest, she said.

"We have been and are working closely with the Obama campaign to make sure we have an exciting and unified convention," Strand said. "Our delegate whips, along with the Obama delegate whips, are a part of a team that will be on the floor of the convention to make sure delegates have everything they need, whether that's answering questions or passing out signs during Hillary's speech. The whips are a traditional part of every convention's floor operations."

Strand said the Obama campaign thought the whips would be a good idea to provide friendly faces for the many Clinton delegates who will be at the convention.

Some Clinton supporters are still sore over the outcome of a tough primary battle that lasted into June. Obama emerged victorious and Clinton has endorsed him. Since then, the campaigns have worked at presenting a united front against Republican John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee.

Both Obama and Clinton agreed to have Clinton's name placed in nomination, with a full roll call vote, in part to appease some of her supporters. Obama finished the primaries with a 365-delegate lead and should win easily.

In what is being planned as a tightly scripted event, an unexpectedly close vote - or an anti-Obama demonstration on the floor of the convention - would be embarrassing.

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