Did Clinton get Kos feet?

At the last minute, Hillary Clinton decides not to meet individually with a group of bloggers at YearlyKos.

Published August 3, 2007 7:21AM (EDT)

CHICAGO -- Liberal bloggers made their mark by fighting intraparty battles. Think Howard Dean, Ned Lamont and Paul Hackett.

So the first full day of the second YearlyKos had an odd feeling of harmony about it. Everyone just seemed so damn happy with the way all the Democrats are doing, what with the retaking of the House and the Senate, the continued malaise of the Republican Party and the high-quality slate of Democratic presidential contenders. At a midday news conference, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the blogger known as Kos, went so far as to say he didn't want to take sides in the 2008 election. "I feel no compulsion to pick anybody because they are all so great," he said.

He also praised the Hillary Clinton campaign for its recent efforts to defend liberal bloggers from the criticisms of Bill O'Reilly on Fox News. "A year ago there wasn't that respect within her inner circle," Moulitsas said. "I think there is a realization that, 'Hey we're not going to win the blogosphere cadre, but there is a lot of hostility towards us, and we want to negate some of that.' I think that is a good thing for the party and a good thing for her."

But all the good feelings may be short-lived. On Thursday night, after a rousing speech by Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean, the conference organizers announced that Clinton was backing out of a promised breakout session Saturday afternoon, when she had been expected to meet with bloggers. She will still attend a panel discussion with the other candidates -- Bill Richardson, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel. But while the others follow the panel with individual breakout sessions, Clinton now plans to have one of her senior advisors, Ann Lewis, do the follow-up in her place.

Upon hearing the news, the ballroom of roughly 1,000 bloggers and activists erupted in hisses and boos. All the warm feelings seemed to dissipate. The reasons for the last-minute change by Clinton were not stated. Perhaps it had something to do with the boasts from the Obama campaign that its breakout session had been overbooked. Or perhaps she really does have somewhere else she has to be.

Update: Gina over at DailyKos has posted an explanation for the confusion over Clinton's participation in the breakout session with bloggers. It amounts to this: The YearlyKos organizers, not the Clinton campaign, made a mistake. They assumed Clinton would come to the breakout session, and printed as much in the official schedule, even though Clinton had never committed to come. I am still trying to get a direct explanation from both the Clinton camp and the YearlyKos organizers, and will post what I find out.

By Michael Scherer

Michael Scherer is Salon's Washington correspondent. Read his other articles here.

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