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Hillary Clinton skips mentioning Obama in a speech to supporters

August 26, 2008 |  1:58 pm

She never spoke his name.

In a seven-minute speech to women supporters, Hillary Rodham Clinton urged voters to get behind “our nominees’’ but did not specifically mention her old rival, Barack Obama.

Clinton’s appearance in an outdoor courtyard here was a kind of time warp. Hundreds of supporters wore Clinton buttons and T-shirts and said they were heart-broken about her defeat in the Democratic primary. During the event, loudspeakers blared theme songs from her unsuccessful primary bid, including Tom Petty's "American Girl.''

She previewed the speech she is to deliver later tonight, saying, “I believe with all my heart that the Democratic Party represents a much better future for everything we believe in and care about and I will be making a very strong case tonight that we stand behind our nominees in order to keep pushing progress forward.’’

Clinton also made reference to a sore point during the primary: gender bias. Commending the hosts of the event, an organization called WomenCount, she said, “I urge all of you to support women running at all levels of government, but also on behalf of other concerns that were raised during the course of the campaign. WomenCount will continue to stand up against the pervasive bias we saw in the media.’’

Clinton stood on a small stage with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, who did not give a speech. In her opening, Clinton talked about this being a historic week, marking the anniversary of both Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream’’ speech, as well as the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. But in talking about the week’s significance she did not mention that convention delegates would be nominating the Democratic Party’s first African-American candidate: Obama.

Of course, Clinton could have been exercising discretion. In this crowd, had she mentioned Obama the name might have been greeted with boos.

Evelyn Kenny, 60, a public speaking coach from Denver who came to the Clinton event, was asked how many Clinton voters would support Obama.

“Right now, I’d say 50-50,’’ Kenny said. “A lot of us liked her experience and a lot of people that like Hillary may say, well, if it can’t be Hillary, let’s have McCain.’ ’’

--Peter Nicholas

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