CHICAGO - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama yesterday dismissed suggestions that the nominating convention could be marred by tensions between his supporters and the diehard backers of Hillary Clinton.
Obama said that their staffs were working out mutually agreeable convention logistics, while Clinton told her supporters in an online chat that she and Obama were "working together to make sure it's a big success."
Neither directly answered questions about whether Clinton's name should be placed in nomination so that her backers can record their votes. Amid reports that some Clinton backers hope to raise her profile at the convention or even continue to push her candidacy, Clinton and Obama were publicly trying to ease the strained relations that exist between some of their supporters.
Obama told reporters on his campaign plane that he talked separately this week to Clinton and her husband, the former president, and that they were enthusiastic about having a smooth convention in Denver. "As is true in all conventions, we're still working out the mechanics, the coordination," Obama said, including whether there will be a convention roll call on Clinton's nomination.
Asked if that meant he wouldn't object to her name being placed in nomination and a vote taken, Obama said: "I didn't say that. I said that they're working it out."
Clinton has not said whether she will seek a formal vote on her bid for the nomination. For the online chat on her website, she wrote that she and Obama will ensure Democrats are "fully unified."
One person asked Clinton directly: "Are you truly supporting Senator Obama and encouraging your supporters to do the same or are you just saying what you have to?" Clinton insisted she was sincerely behind Obama.
Another questioner wanted to know if there was "any possibility" her name would be placed in nomination, arguing that doing so "would at least give your supporters a voice in the choice for the party's nominee." She was noncommittal.
The Clintons' stance toward Obama is being closely scrutinized as the convention nears - particularly after remarks former President Bill Clinton made earlier this week during a trip to Africa. Asked whether Obama was prepared to become president, he replied, "You can argue that nobody is ready to be president," and said he himself learned a lot in his first year on the job.
Hillary Clinton is expected to deliver a prime-time address to delegates on Aug. 26.