by RAY FLEMING

“I want you to ask yourselves - were you in this campaign just for me?” Hillary Clinton took a tremendous risk in putting that question to the Democrat Convention on Tuesday night because it went to the very heart of the accusations still being made that she is less than forthright in her support of Barack Obama for the Presidency. If her diehard supporters, some of whom are alleged to be readier to vote for McCain than Obama, had answered her with a chorus of “Yes” it would have been a disaster for the Democratic cause in 2008.

There was no such response, probably because Senator Clinton was categorically supportive of Obama and spelt out in considerable detail what would be the result of any defection by her supporters to John McCain. I cannot see what more she could have done - there were no qualifications or reservations in what she said. It cannot have been easy because, as many commentators have pointed out, if Obama were to be defeated in November, Hillary Clinton would almost automatically became the party's candidate for 2012. That is the cynical view, taken for instance by The Times US editor, Gerard Baker, who yesterday called Mrs Clinton “one of the most accomplished practitioners of the fine art of political deception” and claimed her Convention speech would be “the biggest stunt of her career so far”. There is another view, which I take - that Mrs Clinton is a dedicated Democrat who would never do anything to help the Republicans win a third term.

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