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Los Angeles Superdelegate Recalls Drama at 1980 Democratic Convention

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The Democrats' roll call vote for the party's Presidential nominee began at three this afternoon. Party officials say they want to finish up early so they can move the elaborate podium to nearby Invesco Field for Barack Obama's acceptance speech tomorrow. But some say the real reason is to keep Hillary Clinton delegates from mussing up the vote. KPCC's Special Correspondent Kitty Felde says one delegate remembers the Democrats' last ugly floor fight from 28 years ago.

Kitty Felde: Inola Henry is a superdelegate from Los Angeles. She's attended every Democratic National Convention since 1972. Usually, the Party has the nomination locked up long before delegates cast their ballots. That nearly happened here in Denver. But Henry remembers the last real floor fight.

Inola Henry: 1980 was indeed – what do you call it? "Bring it to the floor." That was Kennedy and Carter. And if you remember correctly – we'll put it like this: it was like not bitter so much as emotional. It really was very much emotional from the standpoint of the delegates that are there. And there were a lot of, I call it, the "grey beards" that were really trying their level bests to get it pulled back. But people on both sides really felt very strongly about their own particular point of view, so it did not.

So one of the things that happened is that it went to the floor and Kennedy, I think in an attempt to sort of take the steam off what had happened, once all the ballots had been in, Kennedy when he got up to the floor to make the speech, he goes, "Well that didn't work out like I thought it was going to work out." And that, people felt a lot more comfortable when he did that. And then he went on to give that incredible speech: "The work goes on, the cause and years and the dreams shall never die."

[Extended clip from Kennedy's speech]

Henry: On the other hand, which was the picture that was frozen in everybody's mind at the end when they get ready to give what I call "the money shot" with the two people holding their hands up. Kennedy literally ran from Carter, and they literally ran around the stage and they never did. They never did. And I told my friend there, "This is it, we're never going to make it." Because that's what people are going to remember, because that's the visual.

Felde: Inola Henry says according to her "Hillary sources," the New York Senator didn't expect that she would dominate the Convention Week so far. That's why she changed her mind and met with delegates Wednesday afternoon to ask them to vote for Barack Obama. Henry says Clinton is just being pragmatic.

Henry: If indeed it turns out that Obama does not win, people are going to be looking around for scapegoats, and guess who's going to be prominently... you know? And her mother did not raise any fools, okay?

Felde: Tonight, long after the roll call vote, Senator Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton addresses the Convention. Tomorrow, it's Barack Obama's turn.