Sore losers cripple presidential nominees. Think of what Ronald Reagan did to Gerald Ford in 1976. After Ford crushed Reagan's late challenge and refused to offer him the VP slot, he had to beg Reagan to speak at the convention. The 798 words he got were no help. Barely a mention of Ford, not a word of praise. While Reagan's ringing defense of the GOP platform laid the groundwork for his 1980 campaign, it did nothing for Ford, who barely lost to Jimmy Carter come November.
Or recall Ted Kennedy in 1980. His famous "dream shall never die" speech, reprised so movingly last night, was unapologetically NOT about Jimmy Carter. Telling the crowd he was there to "affirm a cause," Kennedy attacked the Republicans and praised past Democratic presidents but refused to make and affirmative argument for Carter.
We know how that turned out too.
Which brings us to Hillary Clinton's challenge tonight. She doesn't want to be blamed for an Obama loss. And if she doesn't convince her voters that she really, really wants Obama to win, he just might lose. Look at the numbers. Right now only 70 percent of Hillary Clinton voters say they support Obama. Dig a little deeper, and you see that even that number is soft. Fewer than half of those voters -- 43 percent -- say they'll definitely support Obama. They still might stay home, throw their vote to Nader or Barr, or go for McCain. That's on top of the 30 percent of Hillary voters who say they won't vote for Obama.
Without those voters Obama can't win. He needs them to come around. All signs are that Hillary will do what Obama needs her to do tonight. Then it will be his turn to do the courting. If he wants to win, he shouldn't be shy about it. Maybe even satellite into the convention again?