Republican Leaders See Divisiveness Within Democratic Convention

By Cheryl K. Chumley | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

Los Angeles ( - The Democrats seem divided, two lead Republican figures said Wednesday, and they claim that the Los Angeles convention lacks the "level of spirit and excitement" seen during the Philadelphia event.

"The most striking difference (I see between the two conventions) is the level of spirit and excitement is not there that was at our convention, and that I expected would be at this convention," Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson said following a press conference at the party's Victory 2000 office located a block from the Staples Center. "There's just not that spirit of optimism."

Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ), arriving in town Tuesday, said her perceptions thus far have been the Democrats are not as united as in years past. President Bill Clinton's speech Monday, she said, reflected that certain level of "fractionalism," meaning that he spoke only briefly of candidate Al Gore and focused predominantly on highlighting his years of leadership.

Clinton could have instead, Whitman explained, taken the speaking opportunity to praise Gore's accomplishments and define his presidential goals and agenda, thereby aiding in the unification of the party's base in a public forum.

Bill Bradley, too, she continued, failed to promote Gore as much as might be expected during the Democratic convention, and he spent considerable time criticizing the administration for its past performance with such issues as health care.

"I heard the president's speech on television, and I heard about a paragraph and a half on Al Gore," Whitman said. "The real problem for Al Gore here is to define who he is. There is just a whole lot of fractionalism here. [The Democrats] have always put on a real good fa\'e7ade before ... but this is apparent. This is real."

Nicholson also commented on the divisiveness within the Democratic Party, attributing the speakers' seeming move "to the left" Tuesday evening to their attempts at base unification.

"I was surprised by how far they went to the left, [especially] in a party that's been trying to reinvent itself at the convention," he said. "I know why they did it. They're trying to [join] their base. But this is a pretty disparate party right now ... certainly not like at our convention."

Nicholson called Clinton's Monday evening solo walk down the hallway onto the convention stage - while brief statements of proclaimed administration successes were flashed onto the arena jumbo television screens - "quite self-indulgent."