Delegation stalled for time during roll call

Posted Aug. 28, 2008, at 9:51 p.m.

DENVER — After some eleventh-hour maneuvering over how the roll call vote would be handled at the Democratic National Convention, the Maine delegation was not expecting to have the chance to verbally cast its votes on Wednesday.

But at the last minute state party chairman John Knutson was told not only would he have the chance to announce the delegation’s votes but that he needed to stall for time by coming up with things to say.

When he was asked by convention organizers if he could add two minutes to his remarks, he thought, “I don’t think so.”

The plan was for Sen. Hillary Clinton to move from the convention floor to suspend the roll call of the states and formalize Barack Obama’s nomination by acclamation after the Illinois delegation was recognized. But Knutson said “Hillary was late” so he was asked to stall for time.

When he did address the convention delegates, Knutson told them and those people watching on television that “As Maine goes, so goes the nation” and that the sun rises first on the state of Maine.

Before announcing the state’s vote, he also had the chance to acknowledge members of the Maine convention delegation including Gov. John Baldacci and Rep. Michael Michaud and to introduce Rep. Tom Allen as the next senator from Maine who would take former Sen. George Mitchell’s seat.

Unlike some other delegations who had decided to cast all of their votes for Barack Obama, Maine cast 24 for Obama and eight for Clinton. Knutson said the Clinton delegates had not yet been released by her when the Maine Democrats signed the formal nominating petition on Wednesday morning, and they felt “a sense of responsibility” to honor the wishes of Maine voters.

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