Hillary Takes Gary Hart’s Deal

A deal is apparently in the works that will allow the roll call of the states to proceed as usual on Wednesday night, with delegates free to vote for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton (or anyone else, for that matter). But, according to the Associated Press, the proceedings will be interrupted early on with a call for an acclamation vote on Obama’s nomination. The A.P. report suggests that Clinton herself, speaking from the floor with the New York delegation, may be the one to make the formal acclamation request.

This is essentially the same strategy convention organizers used in 1984, when the fractious Walter Mondale-Gary Hart primary race similarly divided the party. Hart came to the convention still clinging to a theoretical shot at the nomination, although it was clear to all observers that Mondale would prevail. Just as all eyes are now on Clinton, the political world awaited Hart’s Wednesday night speech at the San Francisco convention with much anticipation. What would he say about Mondale? How would his supporters respond? Could the party possibly unite?

After his name was formally nominated, Hart delivered a speech in which he praised Mondale – “You have honored me by being an opponent of unsurpassed grit, perseverance and determination” – and promised the crowd that “This is one Hart you will not leave in San Francisco.” Then the roll call proceeded. When Mondale finally reached the magic number, Hart left his hotel room, walked to the convention hall and strode onto stage.

“There is a time to compete and a time to collect, a time to fight and a time to unite,” he declared. “Our party has made its choice and we must now speak with one voice. I now ask all of those in this hall and across the land who have fought with me and bled with me in so many battles to join in an acclamation vote.”

The convention then ratified Mondale’s nomination by voice vote and the party pronounced itself unified.

Hillary Takes Gary Hart’s Deal