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Four Days in Denver


Dean asks if Hillary is on her way. Bill says no, change of schedule, she’s out working superdelegates, she asked him to handle this one. Dean nods to mild-mannered Reid, who starts in with the “for the good of the party” pitch. Bill cuts him off.

Bill: Spare me the speeches. I guess you’re here because you already asked Barack to drop out and he turned you down? (Awkward silence.) Okay, go ask Barack.
Rangel: Look, Bill—
Bill: Fuck you, Charlie. You think you can put a knife in my wife’s back and come in here and talk to me nicely?

Rangel’s 78-year-old Harlem street instincts have him moving toward Bill with a clenched fist. Biden jumps in to keep them apart.

Rangel: If your wife is elected president, I’m still gonna be chairman of Ways and Means and she’s gonna need me every fucking day. So how do you wanna leave it: Fuck you, Charlie, or I’m sorry, Mr. Chairman?
Bill quickly apologizes, then turns to the group.
Bill: Hard being a superdelegate, huh? You can’t come right out and announce you’re for Barack because you’re afraid the rest of the undecideds won’t follow your lead. Then where are you? No sense staying neutral this long if you don’t end up picking the winner, right?

Obama suite. Dean and the leadership are meeting with Barack and Michelle Obama.

Barack: But I have the lead in delegates, the lead in—
Reid: We know. We just think a unity ticket is the only way we can—
Michelle: Why should the guy in the lead take the VP slot?
Reid: We—
Barack: Because you already asked Hillary to take VP and she said no?

Dean: We haven’t exactly asked her that yet, but if we could tell her you’re ready to accept the vice-presidential nomination …
Barack: No.
Reid: Barack, if this goes to a second ballot, all hell could break loose.
Barack: No.
Dean (pointing to Gore on Larry King): You know Gore’s gonna make a move if we get to a second ballot. You really think you can hang on to all your delegates then?
Barack shoots a worried look at Gore on TV.
Joe Biden: You ran a strong campaign, amazing campaign, but it wasn’t strong enough to win you the nomination. I’m sure most of your delegates love you, but conventions are about picking winners. And if we get to a second ballot and all the delegates are free to vote for whoever is looking like a winner (points to Gore), that guy’s gonna pick off delegates from both sides and you and Hillary might end up fighting for the VP slot on a Gore ticket.

Now Michelle looks worried. Barack and Michelle have already talked about this. They thought they had made a decision, but this is the real decision point, and Michelle’s supportive nod to Barack says that it’s all up to him.

Barack: Michelle and I need the room for a minute.

Everyone scurries out of the room. The entire leadership of the Democratic Party waits in the hotel hallway as the Obamas discuss the choice: Go for broke or settle for VP. Settle? What first-term senator has ever had the choice of settling for VP? What black American has ever had the choice of settling for VP?

Michelle: I don’t have to be First Lady.
Barack: Tell me something I don’t know.
Michelle: Second Lady could be fun.
Barack (smiles): We get a big house, a big plane, plenty of time to help the kids with their homework.
Michelle (seriously): And another chance to run for president. (beat) Your call.
Barack: Flip a coin?

Hotel hallway. Barack opens the door to the suite, looks at Dean and the rest of the leadership anxiously waiting in the hallway.

Barack: Gore comes after my delegates, (beat) he’s gonna have to fight me for them.

Hillary’s car is pulling away from the hotel. She spots Oregon senator Ron Wyden getting into his car. She has her car chase Wyden’s car. At a traffic light, she jumps out with a gang of Secret Service agents and they surround Wyden’s car. She climbs into Wyden’s car and rides with him, working on him to vote for her. When Wyden finally says he thinks only Obama can beat McCain, Hillary is ready for that. She tells Wyden that McCain’s winning the White House is the best thing that can happen for Wyden’s reelection in 2010, because the president’s party always loses seats in midterm elections. A Democratic president is going to make Wyden’s reelection that much tougher.

Ron Wyden press conference. Wyden announces his support for Hillary, citing all the usual reasons—health care, experience, ready on day one …


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