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November 1, 2014

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Democratic National Convention: In NEVADA:

How one die-hard Clinton supporter is swept from acceptance to conviction

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KEVIN MOLONEY / NEW YORK TIMES

Sen. Hillary Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday. Appealing to her supporters, Clinton made an impassioned plea to unite behind Sen. Barack Obama.

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Anne Zarate listened to Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night, and remembered how angry she was as a Clinton delegate to the Nevada Democratic Party’s state convention in May.

Clinton’s primary rival, Barack Obama, ended up winning even more delegates than he did in the state’s presidential caucus and Clinton would concede in a matter of weeks.

Zarate went through what she referred to as “a month of pouting.” Obama, she said, was all style, no substance. He didn’t have the experience to be president, Zarate said. And then, there was the historic nature of Clinton’s campaign.

But, slowly, the anger subsided.

“I thought, ‘What’s it really about?’ ” she said. “It’s about the issues and the country and who’s going to take it forward. I thought they both presented a lot of opportunity for hope and moving forward. Obama is an extraordinary person, and economically, I couldn’t reconcile where the Republicans are taking us.”

Zarate, who lives in North Las Vegas, is now volunteering for Obama. Listening to Clinton’s speech, in which the senator implored her backers to vote for Obama, would give her ammo in persuading Clinton die-hards among her own friends to embrace the presumptive Democratic nominee.

A USA Today/Gallup poll taken late last week showed just 47 percent of Clinton supporters solidly back Obama. And a CNN poll released this week showed that although the race between Obama and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain is a tie, 27 percent of former Clinton supporters are now backing McCain — up from 16 percent in June.

From the start, Zarate, sitting on her living room sofa, arms folded, nodded approvingly as Clinton appeared on the big-screen TV. She offered her own asides during Clinton’s remarks.

“I am here tonight as a proud mother, as a proud Democrat (“Uh huh”), as a proud senator from New York, as a proud American (“Uh huh”) and a proud supporter of Barack Obama,” Clinton said.

“My friends, it is time to take back the country we love (nodding), and whether you voted for me or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose.”

Zarate turned to her 26-year-old son, Jose, an Obama supporter, and smiled.

Soon, the nodding turned to clapping. The recliner went up and Zarate, a 56-year-old medical biller, allowed herself a few laughs, especially after this line:

“No way, no how, no McCain.”

Clinton’s line about the “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits” even got Zarate’s husband, Larry. “That’s good,” he said.

Then, Clinton ticked off the downtrodden she said her campaign had been fighting for: the single mother without health care, the Marine without veterans’ benefits, the minimum-wage worker raising a family.

“There ya go,” Zarate said, clapping and fist pumping. “What’s the bottom line? What matters?”

Zarate approved of Clinton’s mention of her husband, the former president. “You got that in there,” she said. “All right!”

Clinton’s attacks on McCain brought Zarate’s legs to life, as she kicked to each line.

Then came the crescendo, with Clinton evoking Harriet Tubman. Zarate kicked and clapped.

When it was all over, Zarate had one word: “Perfect.”

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