Kerry Ponders Delay in Party Nod
"I don't think it's a big legal thing," Fowler said. "The convention can do what it wants."
Another lawyer working with the party said, "This is a decision the party makes and it makes it pursuant to its own rules," adding that there are no other regulatory or statutory limitations.
Democratic officials said they are exploring a number of possibilities. One would be to reconvene the delegates to the convention, although trying to physically reconvene them appears unlikely. Instead, officials said, there is talk of convening through the Internet or through a conference call.
Fowler said the convention could give authority to the national committee, which could convene around Sept. 1 and designate Kerry as the nominee. In 1972, when presidential nominee George McGovern had to dump his vice presidential nominee, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (Mo.), the DNC convened to pick R. Sargent Shriver as his replacement.
But some party leaders worried Friday that delaying the nomination would diminish the significance of the convention. Political strategists see the national conventions as one of the most important moments of the campaigns, even though they are heavily scripted. For challengers such as Kerry, they offer the first real opportunity to introduce themselves to a wide audience.
Republican sources raised two questions about the possible strategy: One is whether the Democrats would still qualify for a $15 million federal grant to defray the cost of a "nominating" convention. The other is whether the television networks would still be bound by equal-time obligations to cover the Democratic convention if the event becomes "a four-day political rally" instead of nominating a presidential candidate.
Beyond postponing the nomination, Kerry officials said Friday they were discussing unconventional approaches to their convention because of limited prime-time interest by the major broadcast networks. Asked how Kerry could deliver the traditional acceptance speech if he is not the nominee, Cutter said, "That comes down to semantics, doesn't it?"
Edsall reported from Washington.
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