Sunday, July 6, 2008

Informed speculation: what the Clinton and Obama camps may be negotiating

From time to time I share factual information that may not be widely available to the public. This post is most definitely not of that sort. I have received a number of questions from people about the reported negotiations between Senator Clinton's attorneys and Senator Obama's. People want to know, "why negotiations? why lawyers? what is being decided?"

As a legal scholar I am occasionally interviewed by journalists trying to piece together what is going on behind a legal dispute based upon public records and information. What follows is a similar analysis although nothing about the matter I'm discussing involves law - it is a private dispute between prominent players in a private organization, The Democratic Party.

Consider the following.

1. We know the Obama/Clinton camps are in negotiations about Senator Clinton’s role at the convention, and her involvement in campaigning for Obama should he become the nominee because both Clinton and Obama have said as much. ANYBODY engaged in high level negotiations of any kind SHOULD be using lawyers for the job. Smart lawyers keep the content of negotiations as confidential as possible, which is why we lack factual information about what precisely is on the table.
2. Jonathan Mantz communicated to “top” fundraisers that the big push to pay off the debt would last through July 15, a fairly arbitrary date.
3. To the annoyance of some Hillraisers, the Clinton campaign stopped using Hillraiser accounts for purposes of retiring the debt. The Hillraiser links take people to Senator Clinton's senate reelection fund.
4. President Bill Clinton: not stepping up to help Senator Obama, barely takes his phone call.
5. As Senator Obama looses support, he may well be more and more afraid that if Senator Clinton’s name is put in nomination at the Democratic Party's convention, then Senator Clinton might actually win the nomination.
6. As it is easier to gain the Democratic Party nomination without having to fight for it, Senator Obama may well be pressuring Senator Clinton to resist efforts to have her name put in nomination (this would include nominating speeches on Clinton’s behalf, something which Senator Obama's campaign would most definitely prefer not to happen.)
7. Senator Obama is having to bail out the DNC which has no money to really hold a convention and that gives him major leverage over Senator Clinton and the convention organizers.

Taking 1 - 7 together I think it is a safe bet that the Obama camp wants an agreement with the Clinton camp that can be announced in the third week of July, just four weeks from the convention, an announcement that would indicate that Senator Obama, the presumptive nominee, will get his coronation.

I believe Senator Clinton is resisting such a spectacle. Apart from continuing to asking for donations to retire the debt, she has never said she did not want her name entered into nomination. Senator Clinton has said publicly that she is actively working to make her policy positions part of the Party platform, which is decided at the Convention. She has said her she is confident her delegates will have the chance to voice their support for her during a roll call vote. (Note: such a roll call vote has meaning only if Senator Clinton's name is placed into nomination at the Convention itself.)

Despite the lack of more concrete information about these negotiations - which could be covering issues such as when and if Senator Clinton will speak at the convention, what the final status of Michigan and Florida will be, and much more - the situation requires urgent action in by those who seek an authentically democratic convention - which, in my opinion, includes putting Senator Clinton’s name into nomination so that any convention roll call vote is not only authentically democratic, but is also truly representative of all the Democrats who voted during the primary season and gave us all the closest result in modern Democratic party primaries. Negotiations do not occur in a vacuum. Now is the time to let both camps know that rank and file Democrats want a substantive convention rather than a showy coronation. That matter will not be decided at the Convention itself; it is being decided as I write and you read this post.


Anonymous adamonis said...

As a member of the rank and file of the Democratic Party, the people in charge already informed me that I do not count. I am glad that you try to make them listen!

July 6, 2008 at 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Mirlo said...

Is there any chance in finding out how much has been donated alltogether to retire the debt so far? A good amount would be a leverage for Hillary Clinton, wouldn't it? Anyway, I hope she stays firm not giving in to undemocratic proceedings just because there is money pressure from Obama. And we do have reason to believe so, because she has withstood so much pressure about quitting before all the voters had a say. Lets help her all we can!

July 6, 2008 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Shtuey said...

As Senator Obama's forte seems to be shooting himself in the foot, and pushing the "arrogance narrative," as Chuck Todd, professional Obama sycophant, has characterized such actions as the Barackadential Seal, it would not surprise me if the junior Senator from Illinois is demanding that she release her delegates, and surrender her right to have her name placed in nomination. Anyone think that this would encourage her to campaign her "heart out" as she has said she would?

Je pense que non. I don't think so.

July 6, 2008 at 12:21 PM  
Anonymous GaGirl said...

Heidi, please let us know what we can do as rank and file Democrats to assure a substantive convention. We will respect Senator Clinton's decisions - no matter what they are and even if we wish they would be otherwise.

However, if her decisions are influenced by what WE feel, say, or do -please make sure she knows we WANT her to do anything she can to have a fair convention.

You can have my financial support, my name on a petition, my words in emails, or anything it takes. Please just keep us informed.

Thank you for your work.

July 6, 2008 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Those negotiations need to be motivated by not only what the positive aspects of an open convention are, but what the potential negative results can be if Hillary's supporters are ignored.

July 6, 2008 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger wbever said...

I agreee, Marc.

I already am not voting for Obama but if HRC and her supporters are not recognized respectfully, then no votes for down-ticket Dems. either because I then will be forced to conclude that the party I counted on for longer than I care to admit to represent my modest interests no longer exists.

P.S. Made my first contribution to TDG this afternoon.

July 6, 2008 at 5:13 PM  
Anonymous prabhata said...

I've contributed twice at
since Hillary suspended her campaign. I hope she is able to wipe her shoulders and her shoes soon. She must know we will stand with her, even if we are PUMAs.

July 6, 2008 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger GrandMe said...

Okay. I'm sold. Will send $$$ to Hillary again and to TDG. I am impressed with what you are doing in giving us a real voice. How do we get the message to HRC that we want her to stand firm, that we want her name placed in nomination? I, too, will drop out of the Democratic fold if this is not done. I grew up a Republican, had a couple Independent years and have voted Dem for over 30 years. I can change again!

July 6, 2008 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger tutite said...

...and I suppose this coronation thing-ee and not allowing Senator Clinton to include her name in the roll call is suppose to make us all just fall in line and vote for (what-his-name) in November(how?). Hell hath no fury like a women scorned and I’m not talking about Hillary I’m talking about Hillary’s supporters who has been nothing but scorned this entire election process. Take one woman’s scorned and then multiply that by between 2 to 4 million women scorned to estimate just how much scorn you can figure on getting. We are not going to (just get over it) unless of course that (just getting over it) includes the Democratic Party making me feel like voting for a Republican for the first time in my life

July 6, 2008 at 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More importantly (maybe) how do we get the point to the DNC that if Hillary gets the nomination as she should, a lot of us would contribute to the DNC again to help see her win?

July 6, 2008 at 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they do not put her name in and allow the role call they will only piss us off more! You would think someone who went to harvard could figure that out.

Guess that says something about his self absorbed personality. he just can't see why everyone doesn't grovel at his feet!

July 7, 2008 at 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd definitely contribute to the DNC and the ticket if Clinton were the nominee...not to mention getting more active in the party than i've been.

July 7, 2008 at 11:45 AM  
Anonymous nomobama said...

Interesting synopsis of what is taking place behind the scenes. I want Hillary's name presented for nomination at the Democratic convention.

Obama's continued problems make it incumbent on the superdelegates to do so. If not, the Democrats can say good bye to many of its most avid supporters.

As it stands right now, I am hoping that a viable third party is created as a response to the shenanigans that occurred during our party's primary process.

July 7, 2008 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger jangles said...

Dear HLF: This update is much needed, thank you. With regard to the open convention and HRC on the ballot. This is a MUST. We have lost so much. To lose this too would just be the last straw. I have already committed myself to voting McCain because I think I must do the utmost to defeat him but I am going to commit to voting against every down ticket Dem if this farce is carried off in Denver. If the HRC pledged delegates walk out of the convention, will they have a legal quorum for conducting business?

July 7, 2008 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Senator Clinton is resisting such a spectacle.

Because Hillary Clinton
has a brain....unlike those the BO camp. Really I believe BO is trying to destory the Dem party. It's the only thing he's constant about. You chose the word, " spectacle" well.

July 7, 2008 at 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Hillary supporter said...

This will be the worst election of my life because for the first, and I presume, only time I will vote for a Republican.

The Democrats can go stuff it. Their treatment of Hillary was immoral and unethical.

No way will I support Obama and I will not waste a vote on a write-in or keep the presidential slot blank.

I am protesting the Democrats who betrayed Hillary by voting for McCain.

Four more years of "Bush" are better than even one minute of Obama.

Hillary in 2012...unless something great happens and she can be slotted into the job at the Denver convention. I remain hopeful.

July 8, 2008 at 12:41 AM  

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