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Democrats Aim to Heal Divisions and Confront GOP Challengers

As the Democratic National Convention kicks off, party members are seeking to heal wounds left over from the primaries and create a united front against GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain. Pundits discuss the Democratic Party's efforts to unify.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Good evening. And thanks, Jim.

    As the convention week kicks off, Democrats are hoping to be able to tell their story. But, first, they must put some lingering resentments to rest.

    Hillary Clinton plans to release her delegates and vote for Obama when the roll is called, but many delegates say party healing is still a work in progress.

    Here to talk about that challenge are three prominent Democrats: Representative Artur Davis from Alabama, an Obama campaign co-chair; Maria Echaveste, a former Clinton White House adviser, a vigorous Hillary Clinton supporter who now backs Obama; and Geoffrey Garin, a strategist who ran Clinton's campaign.

    We heard Hillary Clinton, Geoff Garin, describe this as a great family reunion. To what degree is this family dysfunctional?

  • GEOFF GARIN, Former Clinton Campaign Strategist:

    Not very much at all, compared to other families, including compared to the Republican family, where the conservatives and the moderates hate each other.

    There are some disappointed voters left over who supported Hillary Clinton very avidly, but the vast majority of the people who are here as delegates for Hillary Clinton will go out enthusiastically from Denver and support Barack Obama, really, at the leadership of Hillary Clinton.

    She's been, from June 7th on, she has been avid in her support and sincere in her support, working hard. She was in Florida last week. The reports from that trip were — couldn't have been better.

    So, look, are there a few unhappy Clinton supporters? Yes, there are. But the candidate herself is ready to get on and ready to elect Barack Obama.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Maria Echaveste, as someone who supported Hillary Clinton, right until the moment she dropped out from the race, is the grumbling overstated?

  • MARIA ECHAVESTE, Former Clinton White House Adviser:

    I think the grumbling is overstated. She spoke this morning before the Hispanic Caucus of the Democratic Party. And there was a very warm reception for her, but she could not have been clearer in urging every single delegate there to be supportive, to be united, and to win.

    And as I milled around the crowd after she had spoken, you could really see people kind of sort of squaring their shoulders and saying, "OK, I get it. We have to work together, and we have to win in November."

    And I think that it starts at the top. Her leadership is just without question. She's done everything possible. She's got donors who have given money to Obama. And we've got Obama supporters who are helping retire her debt. So it is a family reunion.

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