Matier & Ross, who write a column in the SF Chronicle, have the following description of Bill Clinton’s meeting with superdelegates at the California Democratic on Sunday in San Jose:
The Bill Clinton who met privately with California’s superdelegates at last weekend’s state convention was a far cry from the congenial former president who afterward publicly urged fellow Democrats to “chill out” over the race between his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama.
In fact, before his speech Clinton had one of his famous meltdowns Sunday, blasting away at former presidential contender Bill Richardson for having endorsed Obama, the media and the entire nomination process.
“It was one of the worst political meetings I have ever attended,” one superdelegate said.
According to those at the meeting, Clinton – who flew in from Chicago with bags under his eyes – was classic old Bill at first, charming and making small talk with the 15 or so delegates who gathered in a room behind the convention stage.
But as the group moved together for the perfunctory photo, Rachel Binah, a former Richardson delegate who now supports Hillary Clinton, told Bill how “sorry” she was to have heard former Clinton campaign manager James Carville call Richardson a “Judas” for backing Obama.
It was as if someone pulled the pin from a grenade.
“Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that,” a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted.
The former president then went on a tirade that ran from the media’s unfair treatment of Hillary to questions about the fairness of the votes in state caucuses that voted for Obama. It ended with him asking delegates to imagine what the reaction would be if Obama was trailing by just 1 percent and people were telling him to drop out.
“It was very, very intense,” said one attendee. “Not at all like the Bill of earlier campaigns.”
When he finally wound down, Bill was asked what message he wanted the delegates to take away from the meeting.
At that point, a much calmer Clinton outlined his message of party unity.
“It was kind of strange later when he took the stage and told everyone to ‘chill out,’ ” one delegate told us.
“We couldn’t help but think he was also talking to himself.”
When delegate Binah – still stunned from her encounter with Clinton – got home to Little River (Mendocino County) later in the day – there was a phone message waiting for her from State Party Chairman Art Torres, telling her the former president wanted him to apologize to her on his behalf for what happened.
Still, word of Clinton’s blast shot all the way back to the New Mexico state Capitol, where Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley reiterated Tuesday that his boss had never “promised or guaranteed” Bill and Hillary his endorsement.