While lobbying for his endorsement, Hillary Rodham Clinton flatly told New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that Barack Obama could not win the presidency if he got the Democratic nomination. "He cannot win, Bill. He cannot win," she said, according to a report by ABC News.
Despite her appeal, Richardson ultimately endorsed Obama - which sent Bill Clinton into a purple rage last weekend during a private meeting with California superdelegates. "Five times to my face [Richardson] said that he would never do that," the former president thundered.
One of the roughly 15 superdelegates in attendance told the San Francisco Chronicle, "It was one of the worst political meetings I have ever attended."
Bill Clinton's tirade was triggered when Rachel Binah, a superdelegate who had supported Richardson's campaign, said she regretted that Bill's former top aide, James Carville, had called the governor a "Judas."
Others attending the meeting, assembled hastily during the state party convention in San Jose, confirmed the exchange but tried to soften the description of Bill's anger. It was "very good, very intense," said undeclared superdelegate Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"The word 'tirade' may be used differently out here than in the rest of the country," said Chris Stampolis, who supports Clinton's presidential bid and also attended the meeting. "There was not a single swear word, no screaming, no pounding on anything."
Tirade or not, it was harsh enough for California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres to later call Binah and apologize on behalf of the former president.
During the meeting, superdelegates urged Bill Clinton to approach the undeclared delegates in a more balanced manner, the way he would approach independent voters in an election. "We were all looking around the room like 'this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,' " Stampolis said. "We're having an actual debate - a dialogue - here. I came away very impressed."
After the meeting, Bill Clinton spoke to a larger crowd of California Democrats and advised that everyone needs to "chill out."
In other campaign news yesterday, former Indiana Congressman and 9/11 Commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton endorsed Obama, praising his ability to transcend partisan divides and calling his foreign-policy stance "pragmatic, visionary and tough."
The endorsement adds to Obama's foreign-policy credentials and is especially important because Indiana is one of the few primary states that hasn't yet voted.
Also, Obama said yesterday he would ask former Vice President Al Gore to play a key role in his administration with respect to global-warming issues.