Watching Senator Clinton's speech at "The PUMA Den"

Senator Hillary Clinton gave a rousing speech tonight, as near as I could tell. My back was to the screen as I held a video camera on the crowd of PUMAs watching. From what I could hear, she spoke naturally, as if she were talking to friends (no teleprompter stumbles), paid off a nice emotional arc over the course of it, recognized the accomplishments of President Clinton, repeatedly told people that voting for Senator Barack Obama would be necessary to avoid the consequences of electing Republican Senator John McCain, and left the stage to waving signs and raucous cheers. OK, that I saw.

But it wasn't enough to convince the folks I was with at "The PUMA Den" — a bail bond office repurposed for the evening.

The big-screen TV was tuned to Fox News, which obliged the crowd, showing polls with McCain on top (to cheers!) and cutting away in the middle of former Virginia governor Mark Warner's speech for a commercial break that featured the latest ad for McCain, using Senator Clinton's own words! (Big cheers here, too.)

Once the speech began, there was lots of yelling for Clinton herself, and whoops at any mention of John McCain — this from self-described lifelong Democrats and feminists — and boos and hissing at any mention of Barack or Michelle Obama. This is wounded anger.

There were some tears. They love Senator Clinton profoundly. It's hard to overstate just how much. But despite Clinton's entreaties, only one PUMA at the Den said she'd even consider voting for Senator Obama come November. The rest said they intend to skip the polls or vote for McCain — a message to the Democratic National Committee and Howard Dean, whom they hold responsible for squashing Clinton's shot at the White House.

-Adam Hircsh from "The Takeaway"

"The Takeaway" is PRI's new national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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