Fifty-seven delegates from Iowa will be seated on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, with eight other Iowa Democrats serving as alternates. On Monday, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive party nominee, will stop in Iowa on his way to Denver. Obama bested Hillary Clinton in the overall delegate count, but Clinton backers intend to place her name in nomination at the convention — with Obama’s blessing.
Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was among Clinton’s keenest supporters. Although Vilsack endorsed Obama in June, Vilsack plans to vote for Clinton — first — in Denver. "I think the purpose of the roll-call vote is to recognize the extraordinary campaign that Senator Clinton ran and it is a way of giving those ardent supporters of Senator Clinton an opportunity to express their and enthusiasm and appreciation for her effort and I think that’s how it ought to be viewed," Vilsack says. "At the end of the day, what’s going to happen is that there’s going to be a unanimous vote for Senator Obama and every single delegate on that floor is going to be an Obama supporter."
It wasn’t until June, after all states and territories had held their contests, that Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama. Vilsack says despite the mechanics of the delegate voting at the convention, Clinton will not be the nominee. "I am obviously a big supporter and a friend of Senator Clinton. I’m keeping my hopes up that maybe — somehow — she’ll be on the ticket. If she’s not, I’m sure Senator Obama will have a great running mate and we’ll have a great team," Vilsack says. "I’ll vote as I was appointed and selected as a Clinton delegate, and then I will be enthusiastically supporting Senator Obama."
First-term Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, endorsed Obama just before the Caucuses and plans to cast his vote — as a "super" delegate — for Obama. "I am confident that no matter what happens at the convention, truly I’m confident, that we’re going to come together, we as Democrats, and unite behind Barack Obama," Loebsack says.
Back in 2000, Loebsack was not a congressman, he was a college professor and a Bill Bradley-backing delegate to the Democratic National Convention. The day before that convention, though, Bradley asked all of his delegates to vote for Al Gore and Bradley’s name was not placed in nomination. Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs, the Democratic leader of the Iowa Senate, is a Clinton supporter who sees nothing wrong with a boisterous, pro-Clinton demonstration on the convention floor, something that happened at conventions in the 1950s and early ’60s.
"I actually remember watching on black-and-white TV the parades through the Democratic and Republican conventions — mostly the Republican conventions because my parents, that’s what they watched — of the people nominated and then the supporters, waving their signs and marching through the convention hall and those are fond memories for me," Gronstal says. "I think that’s appropriate."
Gronstal’s wife endorsed Clinton before the Caucuses. Shortly afterwards, Gronstal — as one of the "super" delegates to the 2008 convention — announced his support of Clinton, too. "I have great affection and respect for Hillary Clinton and that hasn’t stopped," Gronstal says.
Despite all the talk about Clinton, though, this convention is being run by and for Obama and his organization. Governor Chet Culver endorsed Obama after the Iowa Caucuses. Culver will be among a group of Democratic governors given a chance to speak to the delegates assembled in Denver. "I’m looking forward to it. I really am. It’s very exciting," Culver says. "I think it’s a great thing for the state. I’ll certainly talk a little bit about Iowa’s prominent role in helping get Senator Obama up and running because he did so well in the Caucuses."
Obama won Iowa’s Caucuses on January 3, establishing himself as a contender and dismantling the idea that Clinton would cruise to the nomination.