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All Eyes On Clinton Ahead Of Denver Speech

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

At the Democratic Convention in Denver today, about six hours of speakers. They range from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, to an unemployed North Carolina textile worker, to keynote speaker Mark Warner. He is the former governor of Virginia, and he's a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

BLOCK: The most widespread anticipation is for the final major speech of the night from Senator Hillary Clinton. She won 18 million votes in the long and contentious primary race against Barack Obama. And many questions remain about what she will say tonight to supporters who still believe she should be accepting the Democratic presidential nomination this week.

SIEGEL: Our colleague, Michele Norris, is in Denver, at the convention. And she joins us now from the Pepsi Center. Hi, Michele.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Hello, Robert. Good to talk to you.

SIEGEL: Good to talk with you. And I'd like to hear from you first about the much-reported tension between the Obama and Clinton camps. Is it real? How much tension is there between…

NORRIS: It is real. This is a convention that is as much about repair as it is about rallying the troops. You can feel that tension. You can hear that tension. You can see that tension on the convention floor, with Hillary Clinton supporters who are showing up with their Hillary Clinton buttons and their Hillary Clinton badges and their Hillary Clinton shirts, even though in some cases, their delegations ask them not to do that.

There's clear tensions between the two camps that are still working out details about what Hillary Clinton will say when she takes the stage, about what message she will deliver to her voters, still tensions about how they're going to work out the roll call vote later in the convention.

And this is something that - it's a real heartburn for the Obama campaign because they need both Hillary Clinton supporters, particularly those women voters that they still having a very hard time reaching. And it's a concern, to some degree, to Hillary Clinton. And when you talk to people in her camp, they note that this could affect her legacy, her standing on Capitol Hill, if it appears in any way that she somehow sullied the party here at the convention.

SIEGEL: So - and the questions surrounding, say, the roll call, that's not for tonight, that would be for tomorrow night. The issue is whether Clinton delegates would all vote for Hillary Clinton, or whether what kind of speeches would be made on behalf of Hillary Clinton. What sorts of things are they dealing with here?

NORRIS: There are several things that they're working out. One of the questions is how the roll call would take place, whether her name would be entered into nomination, and whether people from a certain number of states would be allowed to vote for her, and then the question of whether it would continue and all the states would be able to cast their ballots, or whether someone - perhaps even Hillary Clinton - would cut off the voting and then Barack Obama would take the nomination by acclamation.

So there are a lot of these little details that are still being worked out, details about whether or not she would deliver a specific message to her voters, telling them that they should cast a ballot for Barack Obama, whether she would tell them to follow their hearts.

It's really amazing that they're still involved in these deep and fractious negotiations. Here at the convention, you would assume, particularly for a campaign that's been known for its discipline, that these are things that would have been worked out days, if not weeks ago.

SIEGEL: Well, tonight's other big event before Hillary Clinton's speech to the convention will be a keynote given by Mark Warner, former governor of Virginia, now a candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat from Virginia. You had a chance to talk with him, I gather, today. What does he say about this big moment?

NORRIS: He says he has a hard act to follow. He notes that Barack Obama delivered the keynote address four years ago and it wound up launching his political career. And he knows that, you know, keynote addresses, some are forgotten, some are quite memorable. He hopes to be in the latter category. But he knows it's going to be tough to meet the very high bar that Barack Obama set.

He said he's going to be talking about what he did in Virginia as governor, turning around the economy, and what he did to reach out to constituencies in Virginia that were firmly in the Republican camp, and how he reached across the aisle and really broadened the reach in the party. And he's going to be talking about how the Obama campaign could perhaps do the same thing.

SIEGEL: Okay. Michele, thanks a lot. Enjoy the convention.

NORRIS: I am enjoying it. Good to talk to you, Robert.

SIEGEL: Okay. Michele Norris, who is at the Pepsi Center in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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