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Hillary Clinton, in her Web chat, skirts the convention question

August 7, 2008 | 11:59 am

Hillary Clinton, slowly ramping up her public presence following her loss in the Democratic presidential race, fielded questions today in the Web chat she had promised, but revealed little about what was most on the mind of political observers -- the role she and her supporters will play at the party's upcoming nominating convention.

More revealing, by far, were the comments posted by Clinton enthusiasts as the chat unfolded.

Many said they would like to see her name placed in nomination at the convention -- a potentially discordant note at a confab whose main goal will be to promote party harmony for presumptive nominee Barack Obama.

Other questions typed in to Clinton made clear that some of her backers have come to terms with her defeat.

Clinton hit the expected chords in her responses to the 12 questions she fielded.

Do you really want Obama to become president, one person asked, or “are you just saying what you have to?’’

Clinton replied: “ I am completely committed to helping Sen. Obama become the next president of the United States and urging all of you to do the same.’’

Still, she was noncommittal when asked about the prospect of her name being placed in nomination. Some of her supporters want to see that happen, as a show of respect for her year-and-a-half-long campaign. 

Clinton wrote: “Sen. Obama and I share the goal of ensuring that the voices of everyone who participated in this historic process are respected. I want to assure everyone we are working together with Sen. Obama's campaign and the [Democratic National Committee], and I am confident we will have a successful and unified Convention in Denver.’’

The comments appended by participants were not so circumspect.

One person wrote: “There is no way the DNC ...

... can unify the party without having your name placed in nomination and letting us feel that there is some sense of fairness to this election. Right now, we feel like our candidate has been treated very unfairly and we demand some respect!’’

Not surprisingly, Clinton got a question about the veepstakes. Perhaps surprisingly, given that most clues emanating from the Obama camp have indicated it won't go there, she was less dismissive of joining the ticket than might be expected.

A “Larry D.’’ from Albany told her she’d “make a great vice president.’’

Clinton replied: “I have said repeatedly that I will do whatever Sen. Obama asks me to do. I am really focused and enjoying being back in the Senate and working on behalf of my New York constituents. That is Sen. Obama’s decision and his alone and I am going to respect the privacy of that process by not discussing it.’’

She pirouetted around a question about healthcare, the source of one of the few major policy disagreements she had with Obama. Clinton supports a mandate that would require everyone to carry health insurance; Obama does not. Asked about the issue, Clinton avoided the mandate matter.

“I am so pleased that Sen. Obama shares my commitment to universal healthcare,’’ she wrote. “Once he is elected, I will be working closely with his administration, members of Congress, healthcare advocates, and others to help develop a plan that ensures access to healthcare for every American.’’

-- Peter Nicholas

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