DENVER (AP) - Already defeated and now confused, delegates supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton pleaded Tuesday to know whether they'll be allowed to cast roll call votes and demonstrate on the Democratic convention floor in her favor.
"Just tell me what you want me to do," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, throwing up his hands and rolling his eyes in an Associated Press interview.
The confusion stems from a tentative deal between the Obama and Clinton camps that would allow some states to cast votes in a roll call before somebody-possibly Clinton herself-cuts short the tally and asks the convention to nominate Obama by unanimous consent. Clinton fueled confusion by refusing to publicly instruct her delegates how to vote, though she said she'll back Obama when the time comes.
Clinton backers said that while the process is in one respect meaningless-Obama is assured of the nomination-the tense negotiations over convention stagecraft are an important signal of whether Obama respects them and their favored candidate.
Party leaders said they fear a nationally televised floor demonstration that would underscore party divisions.
"It seems to be a little more of a problem than I anticipated," former Democratic Party chairman Don Fowler told The AP. "All you need is 200 people in that crowd to boo and stuff like that and it will be replayed 900 times. And that's not what you want out of this."
The hand-wringing played out as Clinton paid a morning visit to the Pepsi Center with daughter Chelsea to check out the podium where she was to deliver her evening speech.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen encouraged Clinton to use her speech to give Obama a full-throated endorsement.
"What Obama has to have Hillary do is stand up and say-not only in words but it's got to be almost method acting-and say it in a way that's believable that she wants Barack Obama to be president," Bredesen told The AP. A classy backing "frankly goes toward any future political considerations she may have."
Still, Bredesen said Democrats shouldn't be overly concerned about floor demonstrations. It's part of the healing. "If there's some hard feelings," he said, "let it show a little bit."
Even some of Clinton's most loyal allies-New York Democrats-are increasingly frustrated by the silence from her and her advisers on how to proceed. New York delegates would likely play a key role in the roll call salute to Clinton but they still have no idea what it is they are supposed to do, according to several Democrats who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are supposed to be publicly backing Clinton.