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Clinton to get prime role at Democratic convention

Hillary-Rodham-Clinton

Clinton

Jae C. Hong / AP Enlarge

WASHINGTON - Turns out Democratic primary loser Hillary Clinton will get time to shine at the party's national convention after all - and quite a bit of it.

Democrats officially will choose Barack Obama to run against Republican John McCain this fall.

But in an emblematic move meant to heal divisive primary wounds, the vanquished Clinton name also will be placed in nomination alongside his during the traditional state-by-state delegation roll-call vote at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

And, she gets her own plum speaking slot.

So does her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

All that high-profile Clinton action, spread over at least half of the convention's four prime-time speaking nights, ensures an enormous presence for the couple who have been national fixtures in the Democratic Party since 1992 - and whose latest White House bid, hers, split the party into for-them and against-them camps.

Among the risks: past leaders of the party overshadowing the current standard-bearer.

In fact, the party has a history of other Democrats showing up the guest of honor.

The keynote speaker four years ago - Mr. Obama - seemed to get more love and better reviews during the 2004 convention in Boston than hometown nominee John Kerry, who selected the up-and-comer to speak.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson stole Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis' show in Atlanta in 1988, and Ted Kennedy's "dream will never die" speech brought down New York's Madison Square Garden during Jimmy Carter's 1980 soiree.

To guard against that, Mr. Obama's keynote speaker - Mark Warner of Virginia - will deliver his address the same day Mrs. Clinton does - Aug. 26 - while the ex-president shares the next day - Aug. 27 - with the as-yet-unnamed vice presidential running mate.

On the final convention night, Aug. 28, Mr. Obama will accept the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination before a much bigger crowd at a separate venue.

Historically, the roll call has occurred on the convention's third night. That's still likely, although Democrats say the mechanics of how the vote will play out still are being determined. When it occurs, Mrs. Clinton - herself a super delegate who gets a vote - is expected to release her delegates to Mr. Obama, announce her support for him, and ask her backers to do the same.

Fierce rivals then but wary allies now, Senators Obama and Clinton agreed to put both of their names into nomination after weeks of negotiations.

They made the announcement yesterday in a collegial joint statement that noted that some 35 million people participated in the primary and that both wanted to "honor and celebrate these voices and votes."

"I am convinced that honoring Senator Clinton's historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together in a strong united fashion," said Mr. Obama, an Illinois senator.

Added Mrs. Clinton (D., N.Y.): "With every voice heard and the party strongly united, we will elect Senator Obama president of the United States and put our nation on the path to peace and prosperity once again."

The symbolic move was intended to help the Democratic Party come together after a bruising primary and acknowledge the former first lady's groundbreaking presidential run.

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