Griffin, Alexander participate in nomination
When Barack Obama’s name is put into nomination tonight, a handful of industry figures will cast their votes.
Unlike most of the Hollywood contingent that has turned out here, these are entertainment figures who actually have official business in Denver as delegates. And just like the rest of the convention delegates from around the country, those who supported Hillary Clinton were wondering on Tuesday just what will transpire.
The plans are for a roll call vote in which Clinton’s name would also be put into nomination. But rumors were flying that the Obama camp, in an effort to lessen the drama from being played out on a national stage, was making a last-ditch effort to conduct at least part of the vote at various Denver hotels and not at the Pepsi Center, where the main event is taking place.
Those who backed Clinton in the primary said they were waiting for cues from the New York senator, who is expected to address her supporters this afternoon.
“She tells us what she wants us to do,” said actress Erika Alexander, a Clinton delegate, sporting a brown T-shirt with turquoise “Hillary” lettering, as a meeting of the California delegation adjourned. “But I want to make sure that is what she wants us to do. Otherwise, there is too much wheeling and dealing.”
Although logistics remained up in the air, Clinton is expected to release her delegates in a cue to unify behind Obama.
“If that is what she would like us to do, and she is going to stop (the roll call) and negotiations are being made, then it is what it is,” Alexander said.
Chad Griffin, a delegate appointed by Clinton and an industry political consultant whose clients include Rob Reiner, said that he knows no other delegates who are upset enough to not unify behind Obama.
“There are a few people on the fringes, and I understand those individuals’ views, but the vast majority of Hillary delegates are following her lead in showing a united front in expressing their support for Sen. Obama,” Griffin said.
“No one is sure what we are going to be asked to do in terms of the official process, but I expect that the process will end in a full uniting behind Sen. Obama,” he added.
Alexander and Griffin are joined by other Clinton delegates with industry ties including communications exec Sim Farar, who was among the national finance chairs for her presidential bid.
Farar, who planned to watch Clinton’s Tuesday speech from the Clinton skybox suite at the Pepsi Center, also was waiting for cues from Clinton but said, “I’m voting or Obama.”
Obama delegates include music industry exec Nicole Avant, Wild Brain CEO Charles Rivkin, former news anchor Giselle Fernandez and producer Wendy Wanderman.
Two superdelegates are well known in industry circles: Roz Wyman, a longtime figure in Los Angeles and Democratic party politics who backed Clinton, and Jeremy Bernard, who along with partner Rufus Gifford is a fund-raising consultant for Obama in Southern California.
They follow in a long tradition of Hollywood figures taking roles as convention delegates, including famous names who created minor sensations as they made their way through the media-packed convention corridors. In 2004, Jerry Springer was a delegate to the convention in Boston. Christie Brinkley was one in 2000 in Los Angeles. Warren Beatty, Shirley MacLaine and Paul Newman all have served in delegations in conventions past.
Although this convention’s delegates have lower profiles, Alexander says she has been recognized several times for her role on “Living Single.” But she says that she has created more attention here because she is an African-American woman who has been wearing Hillary shirts and pins.
At an event on Monday night where Wyclef Jean performed, Alexander said some revelers “saw my pin and said, ‘You are for Hillary?’
“They go ‘Come on now. No. No.’
“I have to be bigger about it and not take it personally,” she said. “But they don’t know her. It is sort of a moving train, and they don’t know how powerful her train is.
“They don’t know how frustrating it is,” she added. “They don’t know how rude it is. I always tell them, ‘Flip the script.’ Flip it for Obama and you will see how outraged people will be.”
Clinton supporters have argued that they have been misunderstood throughout the process, including the way the media has characterized some of their concerns over how they were treated on the campaign trail. Alexander was among Clinton’s most prolific celebrity surrogates and traveled throughout the country to campaign for her on college campuses and African-American neighborhoods. She recalls some negative comments there, too, including shouts of “Bros not hoes.”
Nevertheless, she will support Obama and offered praise for Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday.
With Denver teeming with 15,000 members of the media, some politicos were suggested that tensions in the Obama-Clinton camps were being overplayed.
Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, an Obama superdelegate, noted that with all the talk of friction, “It’s Hillary and Obama people having drinks next to one another. We’re all friends.” Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, perhaps the biggest booster of Clinton’s campaign, stood outside of the GQ party on Monday night, wearing an Obama ’08 button.
Others were still vocal about the process.
Another Clinton delegate, Los Angeles civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, wore a rolled-up green handkerchief over her mouth in protest of not being allowed to speak before a meeting of California’s delegation. “I am an elected, pledged, Hillary delegate from the 30th congressional district,” she said through her gag. “Even if Hillary releases us, she can’t release us. We reflect the sentiment of the electorate.”
She called for the roll call vote to go forward on Wednesday.
“After that, we can support Obama 1,000%,” she said.
Wyman, 77, who has been at almost every Democratic convention since 1952 and chaired the 1984 gathering, noted that she is pledged to Clinton but was “very much for Obama.”
Entering the first gathering of the California delegation at the Sheraton Hotel on Monday, Wyman downplayed fears that a roll call vote means serious party fissures, noting how often they have been part of the process in the past. Asked if the party will be unified, she said, “Sure. Absolutely.”
Everything seems to favor Democrats in November, after all. “My great quote is, ‘If we lose this election, we should quit.'”