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Democratic officials say Hillary Clinton will appear at the convention’s opening night as part of a special segment featuring all the women senators, but she is not expected to speak.
updated 7/14/2004 12:52:01 PM ET 2004-07-14T16:52:01

The former chairwoman of the New York State Democratic Party on Wednesday called it “a total outrage” and “very stupid” that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has not been offered a prominent speaking role at the Democratic National Convention.

“It’s a slap in the face, not personally for Hillary Clinton, but for every woman in the Democratic Party and every woman in America,” said Judith Hope, a major party fund-raiser.

Hope said she would appeal to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry to “correct this omission” and would send an e-mail message to more than 1,000 New York women — “many of them major donors to the Kerry campaign” — complaining about the slight.

The Kerry campaign had no immediate comment.

The Boston lineup
On Tuesday, Kerry aides announced the prime-time speaking lineup for the four-day convention in Boston that begins July 26, a list that included former Presidents Carter and Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and Christie Vilsack, wife of Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. The list did not include the former first lady and New York’s junior senator.

Asked about Clinton’s role Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the convention chairman, said, “Senator Clinton will speak also. She’s a major star in the party.”

But later, convention officials said Clinton would appear at the convention’s opening night as part of a special segment featuring all the women senators, but she was not expected to speak.

“To include the wife of the governor of Iowa, who I’m sure is a wonderful woman, and to not include Hillary Clinton is just such a glaring injustice,” Hope said.

“It is, frankly, very stupid,” she added.

In May, Kerry campaign officials had said both President Clinton and his wife would play prominent roles at the convention.

“It’s a total outrage,” Hope said. “Women all over New York state and all over America are being asked to carry a very heavy responsibility for winning this election for the Democrats.”

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Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines had little to say Wednesday, simply commenting that Clinton is looking forward to attending the convention and working hard for the Democratic ticket of Kerry and John Edwards.

Clinton has been campaigning across the country for Kerry and has become one of the campaign’s major fund-raising attractions.

“Hillary Clinton has been a team player for this ticket from Day One,” Hope said.

If Kerry falters this year, Edwards and Clinton would be seen as the top candidates for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

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