DENVER — Elizabeth Fiechter, a New York lawyer who founded 18 Million Voices, gets a little snippy at the suggestion that the march and rally her group held for Hillary Rodham Clinton during the Democratic National Convention might somehow hamper Barack Obama's chances to win the presidency.
"We're having a celebration of women's rights. I don't see how that would hurt Obama in any way," Fiechter, 35, said. "We don't see why the celebration of one is a rejection of the other."
Try telling that to the angry, chanting, sign-waving throngs who marched with her through the streets of Denver on Tuesday.
Several hundred Democrats, most of them women, chanted "Rise, Hillary, rise" and "Who do we want? Hillary!" to the thunder of drums — a defiant, public expression of the unhappiness many Clinton supporters still feel toward Obama, and which threatens to dominate the convention story line.
Although Clinton herself was to make a prime-time plea for unity — a plea she has made all week — many of her supporters still aren't in the mood. They complained Obama won the nomination only by exploiting exclusionary caucuses and because national Democratic leaders encouraged party superdelegates to cast their lots with Obama.
Many said they would vote for the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain, including several Democratic delegates.
"I feel like this whole campaign — it's like you're special for being famous, not famous for being special," complained Stephanie Duncan, 37, who traveled from Corpus Christi, Texas, for the march. "She was the best candidate, and it was stolen from her."
Tuesday's march was organized largely by 18 Million Voices — a reference to the 18-million votes Clinton won in the primary — but attended by members of other pro-Clinton groups as well. Protesters said splinter groups were beginning to organize online and through their Democratic Party contacts in hopes of spoiling the election for Obama.
"If we can't have Hillary this time, we'll have her in 2012," said Belinda Velasquez, 50, a mother of seven who drove 700 miles from Cedar City, Utah.
Wes Allison can be reached at email@example.com or (202) 463-0577.