Kerry offers Sen. Clinton larger role at convention

July 16, 2004|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - John Kerry invited Hillary Rodham Clinton to introduce former President Bill Clinton on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, giving the New York senator the primetime speaking role that some Democrats had sought for her.

Kerry's move, which came a day after party members lambasted convention planners for making "a major mistake" in relegating the former first lady to only a segment with eight other women senators, shifts Clinton from the sidelines of the convention to center stage.

Kerry paused during campaign stops in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to telephone Clinton. She agreed to take on the larger role of addressing the convention solo on July 26.

Earlier, the Democratic mayor of Albany, N.Y., Gerald Jennings, who dubbed Clinton the "rock star in the Democratic Party," said not spotlighting her was a bad idea. And Judith Hope, a former New York state party chairwoman who lobbied for a bigger role for Clinton, called the slight "an outrage."

Yesterday, Hope expressed relief.

"I am delighted," she told the Associated Press. "She's delighted. Senator Kerry is very happy. I think it is a very fitting and very appropriate solution to a perplexing dilemma."

Meanwhile, a spokesman said Clinton had not sought out greater prominence at the convention, though she was pleased with the change.

"Senator Clinton is honored and delighted to have the opportunity to address the convention, and she will continue to do everything she can to elect John Kerry and John Edwards," said Clinton press secretary Philippe Reines.

Prior to the introduction of her husband, Sen. Clinton will take part in a segment, led by Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, to showcase the Senate's Democratic women.

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