CHICAGO — Former President Bill Clinton, one of the toughest critics of Barack Obama during the Democratic primaries, will speak at the party's convention this month where Obama will be officially named the Democratic presidential nominee, Democratic officials said.
Democratic officials said Thursday that Clinton will give a speech on the third night of the convention, before an address by the as-yet-to-be-named running mate for Obama. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity before the details were formally announced.
The former president remains popular among Democrats and championed the cause of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, defending her vehemently on the campaign trail as she ran against Obama for the nomination.
But at times he distracted from his wife's campaign with outbursts of anger and for seeming to disparage Obama's early-season victory in the South Carolina primary.
Since Obama's victory, he has said he has regretted some of his earlier statements, but still has been perceived as not fully embracing Obama.
The announcement that Bill Clinton would speak at the convention came amid reports that his wife has not ruled out having her name put in nomination for a roll call vote — a potentially major distraction leading into the final campaign stretch against Republican John McCain.
Obama and Hillary Clinton battled — sometimes bitterly — through state primary and caucus contests until early June, when the first-term Illinois senator secured the necessary convention delegates to assure his nomination when Democrats convene late this month in Denver, Colorado.
Obama, who is hoping to become the first black U.S. president, dismissed suggestions that tension between his supporters and hers could upset the gathering.
Obama told reporters Thursday that their staffs were working out mutually agreeable convention logistics. At the same time, Clinton was assuring her supporters during an online chat that she and Obama were "working together to make sure it's a big success."
Neither answered questions about whether Clinton's name should be placed in nomination so that her backers could record their votes.
Video: Obama on energy plan, Clinton In the primary contests, Clinton amassed major backing despite running second to Obama. And many of her supporters are said to be bitter about the loss and have refused or been slow to join Clinton in supporting Obama, who would be the first African-American candidate to win a major party's nomination for the presidency.
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Still-angry supporters of Clinton, who would have been the first female nominee, assert she was unfairly treated during the nominating contest because she is a woman.
As he flew home to Chicago on Thursday, Obama told reporters that he talked separately this week to Clinton and her husband,and that they were enthusiastic about having a smooth convention.
"As is true in all conventions, we're still working out the mechanics, the coordination," Obama said. One such issue, he confirmed, was whether there will be a convention roll call on Clinton's nomination, he said.
Video: Clinton not ruling out convention nomination? Hillary Clinton was expected to deliver a prime-time address to delegates on Aug. 26, the second night of the convention. With the delegate roll call planned for the next evening, Obama was set to accept the nomination with a speech on the convention's fourth and final night.
In Florida, a man has been arrested on charges he threatened to assassinate Obama. Authorities said 22-year-old Raymond Hunter Geisel was keeping weapons and military-style gear in his hotel room and car.
Geisel was arrested by the Secret Service on Saturday in Miami and appeared in court Thursday. A Secret Service affidavit charges that Geisel made the threat during a training class for bail bondsmen in Miami in late July.
According to someone else in the 48-member class, Geisel allegedly referred to Obama with a racial epithet and continued, "If he gets elected, I'll assassinate him myself."
Meanwhile, McCain's campaign said it was returning $50,000 in contributions solicited by a foreign citizen. The move follows the disclosure that the money was being raised by a Jordanian man who is a business partner of prominent Florida Republican Harry Sargeant III.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Sargeant allowed a longtime business partner, Mustafa Abu Naba'a, to bring in some $50,000 in donations in March from members of a single extended family in California, the Abdullahs, along with several of their friends.
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said some of the people solicited by Abu Naba'a had no intention of supporting McCain for president. Rogers said "that just didn't sound right to us" so the money is being returned. He estimated the total at less than $50,000.
According to the Times, Abu Naba'a is a dual citizen of Jordan and the Dominican Republic.
It is illegal for foreigners to contribute their own money to U.S. political campaigns, and McCain's campaign said Abu Naba'a made none.
A House committee chairman is looking into Sargeant's defense contracts for shipping fuel to U.S. bases in Iraq as part of a probe into whether contractors are overcharging the government.
McCain is co-sponsor of the campaign finance reform law that bears his name and he is trying to move quickly to resolve any questions involving Sargeant.
McCain has "a deep commitment" to strictly following campaign finance law, said Rogers.
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