As the Democratic National Convention begins in Denver and Barack Obama officially becomes the party’s nominee, the wounds and tensions of that excruciatingly drawn-out primary still loom. The disunity that we once believed would come and go has become the focus of the convention. Over the weekend, Obama introduced Joe Biden as his running mate, and news broke that Hillary Clinton had never been vetted at all. John McCain, wily old sea-dog that he is, has been trying to fan the flames of resentment with a couple of new ads targeting disaffected Hillary supporters. And today, Politico tells us the inner circles of both the Obama and Clinton campaigns have been sniping at each other in not-for-attribution quotes to reporters. It’s part media hype, part authentic grudge, and it’s safe to say this will probably never, ever end.
• John Harris and Mike Allen report that as the convention opens, “mistrust and resentments continued to boil among top associates of” Obama and Clinton. Bill is annoyed that his speech has to be about national security instead of domestic issues, Obama’s backers are peeved that Clinton’s team continues to think they “hold leverage,” and Clinton’s people still don’t think Obama has done enough to “reconcile.” [Politico]
• Marc Ambinder backs up the Politico report, saying “things are getting a little hairy as the reality of the convention sets in.” But Obama aides are downplaying the tensions, and (obviously) “do not want reporters to focus on fighting.” [Atlantic]
• Ed Morrissey isn’t the least surprised that “Obama didn’t want Hillary on the ticket. The combination of the three egos would have eventually proven toxic.” But it’s “a big, big mistake” to force Bill to talk about national security because “few people can talk as effectively about middle America’s economic concerns as Bill Clinton.” Obama is “misusing his greatest asset.” [Hot Air]
• Jason Zengerle responds to Bill’s complaints: “Boo hoo.” [Plank/New Republic]
• Rich Lowry thinks Obama “has two major challenges this week — and both are Hillary-centric.” He has to win over her voters from the primaries, only half of whom are supporting him, and he has to “occupy the space on the political spectrum that Hillary carved out.” Some of Hillary’s voters “can be placated by seeing her treated well,” but others were attracted to Hillary’s toughness and experience, and will be harder to bring into the fold. [NYP]
• Frank Rich thinks that “while Obama can continue to try to reassure resistant Clinton loyalists in Appalachia that he’s not a bogeyman from Madrassaland, he must also move on to the bigger picture for everyone else” and “rekindle the ‘fierce urgency of now.’” [NYT]
• Jonathan Cohn writes that McCain’s ad about Obama bypassing Hillary for veep “is designed to stoke the resentment of wavering Clinton voters and to make sure the Clinton controversy remains part of the convention storyline.” But Clinton’s supporters will come around if they “get the message that Obama believes what they do on the issues,” and Clinton’s convention speech can go a long way toward making that happen. [Plank/New Republic]
• Kevin Drum wonders if any presidential candidate has ever “run an ad mocking his opponent for not choosing a particular running mate.” But it’s possible “an attack ad this transparent will be just the thing to finally get all those ex-Hillary supporters fully on board with Obama.” [Mother Jones]
• Jennifer Rubin claims that “real Hillary supporters are mad” that Obama never actually vetted Hillary for vice-president. McCain can take advantage of this, but he can’t “overplay his hand.” As he goes forward, “he should keep those Hillary fans in the forefront of his thinking” with “[a]n enhanced middle class tax cut plan, a blue collar-friendly VP, an emphasis on the people who ‘work hard and play by the rules’ … and a focus on deeds not talk.” [Contentions/Commentary]
• Chuck Todd and friends contend that while there’s “[n]o doubt Obama still has some work to do” with Hillary’s supporters, “perhaps the Dem Party is more unified than PUMA-on-the-street interviews might suggest.” After all, a new poll shows Obama “getting more Clinton support than he’s ever received since she dropped out of the race back in June.” It’s possible the political media is “in danger of over-hyping Obama’s problem with Hillary backers.” [First Read/MSNBC]
• Greg Sargent says that a new McCain ad featuring a Clinton-supporter-turned-McCain-supporter is more evidence the McCain campaign “will work hard to push stories about tensions between the Clinton and Obama camps and will aggressively highlight polls suggesting that some embittered Hillary supporters still aren’t getting behind Obama.” [TPM Election Central]
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For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.