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July 14, 2004
Profiles In Political Courage

The New York Times reports this morning that the Democrats have left Hillary Clinton off the speaker list for their nominating convention, even though she plans on being in Boston:

The Democratic National Committee released on Tuesday its lineup of the big-name politicians speaking at the convention this month, and it included every major Democratic star except one.

There were Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, near the top of the list. Al Gore was there, too, and so was Edward M. Kennedy. Even the wife of the Iowa governor made the cut. But Hillary Rodham Clinton, the junior senator from New York and one of the most prominent names in the party, was nowhere to be found. ...

"She never asked," said Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Kerry campaign. "Obviously, Hillary Clinton is a leader in the party and is working hard to elect John Kerry." But Ms. Cutter said she did not know whether each speaker, including Ms. Clinton's husband, had formally requested time.

"She never asked"? It seems to me that using one of your most recognized and (unfortunately, these days) moderate faces on the podium would have so much value that the Democrats could have picked up the phone and asked her. According to conventional wisdom, supposedly the Bush/Cheney ticket is vulnerable with women, even though recent polling shows surprising strength among suburban women for the Republicans. How better to exploit that vulnerability than to have your most well-known female politico on the stump for national TV?

Apparently not. The plan for Mrs. Clinton, former First Lady and Senator of the nation's second-largest state by population, will be as a chorus girl for Barbara Mikulski, the senior female Senator from Maryland, and only on opening night. After that, the men take over -- Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and even Ragin' Al Gore.

Raymond Hernandez and John Files report that, privately, Democrats are just as puzzled:

Some wondered if the Kerry-Edwards campaign was worried about being upstaged by a woman who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, most likely in 2008. Others speculated that the campaign was worried that Mrs. Clinton may be too polarizing a political figure to showcase during an event intended to appeal to the broadest political audience.

The speculation about Mrs. Clinton's political future has heated up since Mr. Kerry's announcement last week that his running mate would be John Edwards, the youthful and charismatic senator from North Carolina. Many Democrats say the decision means Mr. Edwards could present an alternative to Ms. Clinton in 2008, if President Bush is re-elected this year.

Some Democrats wondered whether this potential rivalry was behind the decision to keep Mrs. Clinton off the list of convention speakers.

Hillary lovers need not despair entirely. As Hernandez and Files report, the conventions are long affairs, with plenty of spots for fill-in speakers:

Lina Garcia, a spokeswoman for the convention, said there was still a chance that Mrs. Clinton could land a role as a speaker. "There's a possibility she could," she said. "There's a possibility she couldn't." Ms. Garcia indicated that there would be a need to fill up some air time during the heavily choreographed four-day event. "There are obviously going to be other speakers to fill up the day," she said.

In other words, don't call us -- we'll call you. And we'll use your silence as an excuse to treat you like a consolation prize.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 14, 2004 6:37 AM

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