Former House speaker to support Clinton campaign

Former House speaker to support Clinton campaign

He wears a red, white and blue pin on his sports coat that reads, “Hillary 2008.”

It doesn’t take much to figure out which candidate former House Speaker Jim Wright is supporting in what has been called a dead-heat in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination.

Wright will serve as chairman of a Fort Worth steering committee that aims to bolster local support for Hillary Clinton‘s campaign.

Wright said Clinton’s unique experiences serving in both the legislative and executive branches have given her an understanding of how to get things done.

“We’ve had enough hostility. It’s time for someone who understands both roles to work out a cooperative plan,” he said.

Wright said his goal as chairman is to garner support for the Clinton campaign and motivate people to get actively involved. He said he will write letters, meet with campaign organizers to develop strategies and itineraries, and keep the community informed about special events.

“It is an interesting challenge,” he said. “It’s a human effort – you must appeal to people to do things.”

Although assistant professor of political science Adam Schiffer said Wright is a respected figure in the Texas Democratic Party, he doesn’t think Wright’s endorsement will have much of an effect.

“Endorsements in general ­- having prominent people – have never proven to have much of an effect, but he is one of the elder statesman in Texas politics, so it can’t hurt,” Schiffer said.

In addition to his position as chairman of the local steering committee, Wright holds the position of being one of Texas’ 32 superdelegates.

A candidate needs 2,025 of 4,049 delegate votes to win the party’s nomination, 796 of which are superdelegates, who are party leaders who can vote for the candidate of their choice. The current delegate count is close with Obama ahead in the overall delegate count and Clinton leading in the superdelegate count, according to the Democratic National Convention Committee Web site.

With Wright’s endorsement already known, the former speaker refers to his superdelegate status as “a big hubbub.”

Political science professor Jim Riddlesperger said in this close contest for the regular delegates, superdelegates might provide the swing vote and mathematically make the difference in who is chosen as the democratic candidate. However, he said, superdelegates may not play as important a role as is expected in order to present a unified party that stands behind its candidate at the Democratic National Convention.

“The superdelegates are all ardent democrats who are more interested in who wins in the fall than who gets the nomination,” Riddlesperger said.

Wright said he does not know when Clinton might appear in Fort Worth. He said nominee visits are often hard to come by because of the difficulty faced by local committees in garnering support and stirring up a crowd on short notice.

“Even the committees don’t typically know about appearances until three days in advance,” he said.

Melanie Harris, a fellow Clinton supporter and TCU alumna, said Wright’s experience will bolster the Clinton campaign in Texas.

“Speaker Wright is highly respected not only in Fort Worth, but throughout Texas,” Harris said. “His endorsement and support will definitely have an impact.”