Rothman seeks to appease Clinton supporters

DENVER – Seeking to shore up the full support of New Jersey’s Hillary Clinton supporters for Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman used a line that sounded like it could have come from former President Bill Clinton.

“I hope this is not presumptuous,” he said. “I think and feel your pain.”

The reception for Steve Rothman at today’s first delegate breakfast at the Inverness Hotel bore little resemblance to the one who, almost a year ago, drew a few boos and catcalls at the Democratic State Convention in Atlantic City when he advocated for Barack Obama, and made comments that some perceived as a knock on Hillary Clinton.

Today, Rothman – Barack Obama’s most visible and high profile New Jersey backer and the only member of the Democratic Congressional delegation not to back Hillary Clinton – got a standing ovation and sought to smooth over the sometimes still prickly relations with the Clinton supporters who make up the majority of New Jersey’s delegates.

“We have so much at stake here, my dear friends, that we must overcome these rough feelings and realize that we cannot afford as a nation to continue the Bush/McCain politics that have caused so much damage here at home and abroad,” he said.

But Rothman also saluted Clinton’s campaign, saying that the tough fight had created the kind of “scar tissue” Obama will need to prevail in the general election.

“I think that Barack Obama needed some of that scar tissue, some of that toughening up that Hillary Clinton gave him.”

As part of his appeal, Rothman brought up the specter of the 2000 presidential elections in Florida. With the occasional Clinton supporter still saying they’re considering voting for McCain, Rothman used those events as a warning.

“95,000 people voted for Ralph Nader because they said there was no different between Gore and Bush,” he said. “Your support, your votes, your efforts, your advocacy of Barack will make the difference.”

Rothman seeks to appease Clinton supporters