Clinton Teams to Keep Critics in Line

As party leaders look to heal the Democrats' lingering primary battle wounds from the podium, Sen. Hillary Clinton's staff has coordinated a floor team to quash anti-Obama disturbances in the convention hall tonight and help the party present a united front.

Clinton's "whip team," led by longtime staffer Craig Smith, is approximately 40 members strong, composed of both Clinton and Obama delegates working in coordination with convention floor volunteers. The teams are dispatched to answer delegate questions, ensure that the appropriate signs are displayed and generally avoid any potentially embarrassing spontaneous expressions of opinion.

In a meeting earlier today, whips were coached on how to keep protests to a minimum and told to spread the word to anyone in their states who might cause trouble by yelling out or making a scene that they should"not embarass" Sen Clinton with their actions.

On the delegate floor, they will be handing out "Hillary" signs for the beginning of Clinton's speech, but later will hand out "unity" signs and encourage everyone in the hall to wave them.

Clinton's Release of Delegates

All of the whips were also told to invite all Clinton delegates -- a number in June that ran about 1700, though it's unclear how those numbers have changed -- to a 1:15pm meeting tomorrow with Clinton at the Colorado Convention Center

One Clinton whip said they've known for about a week what the rough plan is for tomorrow's roll call vote, but that they've been sworn to secrecy. Clinton will describe the plan at tomorrow's meeting and ask her delegates to fall in line with the party's plan for unity.

Clinton whip and former Colorado State Sen. Stan Matsunaka said he was approached by the Clinton campaign approximately three weeks ago about being on the team.

Matsunaka says his role is to make sure "no one embarrasses anybody and at the end of the day we all unite behind Sen. Obama."

Whips: 'Normal Operating Procedure'

He sees nothing out of the ordinary about Clinton's whip team -- calling it part of "normal operating procedure" at the convention -- the only difference being that this go around the Clintons aren't in charge.

Kathleen Strand, a spokeswoman for the New York senator, said the idea for the team was a "collaborative decision between the Clinton and Obama operations to ensure a successful and smooth process on the floor."

For Clinton's most steadfast supporters, the months-long primary battle still lingers with frustration. When the New York senator and former first lady takes the stage tonight, for many it will be in a role much diminished from the one they thought she would have this week.

Clinton Loyalists Won't Back Down

The Clinton loyalists are visibly on display in Denver. Many still display Clinton campaign paraphernalia with unabashed pride, occasionally complaining at the souvenir stands that the New York senator's likeness isn't available alongside the Democratic National Convention's official Obama-Biden merchandise.

Marvin Wells, a 43-year-old delegate, said the convention organizers have ignored the fact that Clinton lost the primary by a narrow margin and treats Clinton supporters "like they don't exist."

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