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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Democratic Aide On The Hill Calls Obama's Campaign 'Insufferable'

There is trouble in paradise.

Some of the other descriptors being used from Hill Democratic are, "insular, uncooperative and inattentive" as The Politico reports that some of the Democrats on the Hill are "miffed" at Obama.

One Senate Democratic aide complains, "They think they know what’s right and everyone else is wrong on everything. They are kind of insufferable at this point.”

The other complaints are about a lack of effort in helping with fundraising for Democratic candidates, Obama visiting members’ districts without prior notice given to the lawmakers, which they claim resulted in "lost opportunities" to score points in their district by being seen with Obama, and until recently they claim Obama did not bother to coordinate a "message" which they assert has left them in a lurch when they were asked to comment about ongoing comments made between Obama and John McCain.

One example given there was Obama's comments about his intent to "refine" his Iraq message.

Another grievance listed is Obama's decision to move his acceptance speech from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Field, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NA.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.), were not informed of until it was announced on a conference call between the Obama campaign and reporters.

On the record Democratic leaders say they are pleased with the amount of coordination and Obama spokesman, Bill Burton, dismissed the criticisms saying, "It’s a favorite parlor game in Washington for low-level staff to take shots at anyone they can, given the opportunity. But as leadership aides across the Hill have confirmed even in this story, we have a constructive working relationship with the House and Senate leadership and continue to work with them to bring about the change the American people demand this November.”

DSCC spokesman Matthew Miller confirms Burton's remarks saying that they have a "great relationship with the Obama campaign and work closely with them on everything from message strategy to on-the-ground coordination in states where we have races."

Others spoke to The Politico and referred to the Obama campaign as having a "sense of entitlement” that leads to “arrogance.” They even go further and compare Obama to the Bush administration.

One Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, compared the Obama campaign unfavorably to President Bush’s administration.

“At least Bush waited until he was in the White House before they started ignoring everybody,” the aide said.

“These relationships matter,” said a House Democrat close to the leadership. “I really hope these guys try to get off on the right foot. We all know what happened to [former President] Jimmy Carter and [former President] Bill Clinton. We don’t want to see a repeat of that.”

Reports say that the Obama campaign has already moved to address some of the grievances listed above.

Highlighting the problem with "miffing" the Democrats on the Hill off, is the fact that superdelegates, which gave Obama the number needed to assume the mantle of presumptive nominee for the Democratic party, all have the option up until the democratic convention, to change their minds.

While Hillary Clinton has suspended her campaign and is in negotiations with Obama and the DNC about giving her a respectful presence at the democratic convention in August, which she can follow up with a graceful exit, her die-hard supporters are not willing to give up while there is a possibility of superdelegates changing positions.

Now there is an active campaign to make sure that Clinton's name is listed as a nominee and a roll call of the states is conducted, which is where the delegates and superdelegates have to cast their vote for one of the candidates or the other.

Heidi Li Feldman, a Georgetown University law professor, insists there’s still “no way of predicting” the outcome should there be a fair vote. That’s because Obama has not secured enough pledged delegates to ensure the magic number of 2,118 needed to claim victory; the Illinois senator has gone past that benchmark only with the pledges of about 390 superdelegates — and they can change their minds at any time up to the moment they cast their ballots.

According to Feldman, who says she has raised about $100,000 for the Clinton campaign, "If they had a meaningful vote, I have no idea who would win. But I know that if Sen. Obama were sure he would win, there wouldn’t be a negotiation” about Clinton’s role at the convention."

Feldman has teamed up with a pro-Clinton blogger, Marc Rubin, to raise money for an money for advertising campaign to demand a convention vote.

The group they created is called the Denver Group and Feldman insists that if there is no convention vote, she will not vote for Barack Obama in November.

Feldman says "What they have to do is make it possible for people to say to themselves that there was a fair and correct process."

What the DNC will decide about the roll call votes on the convention floor is something people can only guess at, because on the Hill, where secrets are very rarely kept, everyone seems to be holding those negotiations very close to their vest.

Addressing the grievances from Democrats on the Hill, could be considered a very smart political move from any candidate that finds themselves in the position that Obama is in, where there are not enough pledged delegates without the superdelegates to assure him the official democratic nomination.

The steps he is taking to smooth things over include appointing a Capitol Hill liaison to keep the channels of communication open between himself and the democratic leadership, arranging message conference calls daily and starting to consult with Democratic leaders on strategy for the November election.

This might all go a long way toward soothing over the ruffled feathers that have been reported.

Then again, it might not and I am going to have to side here with the Clinton supporter. The Democrats are going to have to have an open roll call vote on the convention floor, because if they do not, many Clinton supporters are going react badly, with good reason, and by not doing so it could very well cost Obama millions of votes in a race that most polls show tightening considerably.