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A massive e-mail and Internet campaign is under way aimed at derailing the nomination of Barack Obama and making Hillary Clinton the party’s standard bearer next week in at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
"It’s downright nasty," said Memphis, Tenn., super-delegate and City Council member Myron Lowery, who has shared dozens of the messages he’s received with The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal newspaper.
"I think it’s divisive for the ‘Support Hillary’ campaign to continue at this time. She made the decision to fully support Mr. Obama," said Lowery, who initially supported Clinton but later switched his allegiance to Obama. "I don’t know why they’re not taking their cue from Hillary and falling in line."
Lowery said he does not believe Clinton herself is behind the effort, but that it’s "her supporters, acting on their own because they’re proud of what they have done for her."
Most of the messages Lowery has received from across the country come from Hillary supporters making the case that she won more voters’ votes in the primaries, she won bigger states, that Obama won states that won’t vote Democratic in November, and that she is the only "electable" Democrat.
"Obama could not ‘seal the deal’ with voters during the primaries," said one message Lowery received Tuesday from a Sacha Millstone, a Colorado delegate to next week’s convention. "The more voters got to know him, the more voters chose Hillary Clinton …
"Democrats must offer voters the candidate with the best chance of winning in November, the experienced candidate who understands the problems we face and the solutions we need — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Millstone was informed earlier this month by the political director of the Colorado Democratic Party, William Compton, that a complaint had been filed against her seeking to disqualify her as a delegate for her "disparaging public remarks" about Obama.
Michael Gordon, of Parker City, Ind., wrote to delegates Tuesday as representative of PUMA (which stands for "People United Means Action"), noting that the Obama campaign spent $56 million in July "only to lose ground to (John) McCain…
"Where Obama once got a free pass on such despicable relationships with anti-American people such as Rev. Jeremiah Wright … , (George) Soros … , Louis Farrakhan — the American voters are beginning to realize what a questionable and shady past this man has led," Gordon writes.
Ann Timulinas of North Attleboro, Mass., e-mailed to superdelegates that Clinton was the party’s "only hope for a Democratic president." David Piper, of Glendale, Calif., reminded delegates that Clinton on June 7 "suspended, not ended" her campaign.
"I think it’s a terrible tactic," said Memphis delegate, Baptist minister and Shelby County, Tenn., Democratic Party Chairman Keith Norman. "We had hoped that this kind of politics, especially from within the party, would have been abandoned."
A pledged Obama delegate, Norman noted that some of the attacks are overtly racist and that in one instance Obama was likened to "the Anti-Christ."
"We have a historic moment that we need to grasp and we need to move forward as a unified party," he said.
As for giving Clinton a floor vote, Norman said he is dead-set against it. "All it will do is give the Republican Party a greater opportunity to fight our candidate," Norman said.
Asked if he thought Clinton, who is actively campaigning for Obama, might be orchestrating the disharmony, Norman said, "If she doesn’t stand up and speak against it, then she’s for it. If she’s aware of it, she needs to make a clear statement that this should not be done."
Kelly Jacobs, a Hernando, Miss., delegate pledged to Clinton, said she is not "with that cadre of mal-discontents who want to have a war on the Democratic floor," but she said she thinks it’s only fair to have a floor vote for the New York senator.
"What is my role at the convention then if not to vote for Hillary?" she asked. "If this is just about Obama, then only invite the Obama delegates."
Jacobs was a Howard Dean delegate in 2004 but ended up voting for John Kerry once Dean exited the race. Jacobs said her understanding since high school civics was that the delegates vote for the candidate to whom they’re pledged on the first ballot unless that candidate has taken his or her name out of contention.
Elly Manov of Vero Beach, Fla., a Republican alternate delegate to the St. Paul convention starting Sept. 1, said she’s all for a Hillary Clinton floor vote in Denver.
"Any disharmony in the Democratic Party works for us," she said. "There will be a lot of dissatisfied people."
(E-mail Bartholomew Sullivan of The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal at sullivanb(at)shns.com)