Last week I spoke with City Councilperson Janice Hahn on her winning one one of the spots as a Hillary Clinton delegate representing the 36th Congressional District. Over 200 people had shown up at the caucus to choose between 25 candidates vying for four spots – two women, one man, and an alternate
At my Obama caucus visit, numerous candidates had insisted that their convention votes wouldn’t be swayed, and seemed disturbed that anyone would try to change it. They definitely have reason for concern: Hahn unabashedly told me she cemented her win by telling caucus voters that she’d be able to persuade Obama delegates to vote for Hillary on the floor of the Democratic Convention.
I also asked Hahn why Clinton would be good for Los Angeles, and her thoughts on running for congress…
Tell me about the caucus.
It was great. It was the first time I ever ran for delegate in the caucus. I got there early, shook everybody’s hand, and asked them for their vote. But I’d also called alot my friends beforehand to make sure they’d showed up. Because its really about who’s making their voters are showing up that day. I made my brother show up. In the end I was the top vote getter in the caucus.
What else did you to encourage turnout and votes?
I was actually on a slate with some others. Bobbi Buescher brought cookies and things to hand out. Somebody else was handing out lemonade, so I just told people to go over and hand some – I don’t know if they thought I provided it or not. But mainly I thought if I could just shake everybody’s hand, look them in the eye, and ask for their vote, then it would be a great process.
Then I gave a speech. Everyone said they liked how I framed it. A lot of people were getting up talking about how great Hillary Clinton was, and I was saying look, no one would be here at this caucus if you didn’t think Hillary Clinton would make the better President.
But the reality of the matter is, at this point, Obama has more delegates, has more of the popular vote, and I think those of us who want to see Hillary (become) President of the United States, it’s gonna be taken all the way to the convention floor, and you want to send delegates back there that have the kind of skills that can be persuasive down there on the floor after the first ballot.
Alot of the super delegates are Congress members, not only in this state but throughout the country, that I’ve come into contact with just in my political career, and I think I could be able to pursuade some of those people down on the floor.
Afterwards a lot of people came up and said it was a good message, and they hadn’t thought about it that way, and that’s why I got their vote.
Why would Clinton be a better President for the residents of Los Angeles?
She’s gonna be a better President for the whole country. I certainly think we’re an international city, and I think Hillary does better on the international issues, she does better with her relationships across this country, as well as internationally, and as well as her being in the White House for eight years.
She and Bill came to Los Angeles many times. I have a picture hanging in my office of when her and Bill first came to Los Angeles during his Presidential primary. She’s been coming here a long time. I think she knows us, and certainly her relationship with Mayor Villaraigosa will help us tremendously.
I know its a tight race. The main thing for me is to elect a Democrat in November. So if Obama gets the nomination in the end, I’m certainly ready to support him in any way possible.
But the more I listen to Hillary, the more I talk to other womena round this country, I think it really is time for a woman to be President of the United States. She certainly has more experience. She’s got more relationships. I really trust her ability to problem solve.
I do think women think differently – I think we solve problems differently, and I think we come to solutions in a very different way than men do, and I think its time that a woman led this country. Internationally, I think that just puts us in a better spotlight.
There’s so many countries around the world that for a long time have had women leading them. There are so many states and cities in the country that have had women as mayors and governors. I think it’s really time for a woman to lead this country. I think its the right time to regain a standing in the international world, which we have lost in the last eight years, find a reasonable solution to end this war. I trust her to do that in a way that is more productive.
Would you then support Condoleeza Rice if she were running as McCain’s V.P.?
No. I think both John McCain and Condoleeza Rice would would be a third term of George W Bush.
Do you know of any Council members actively supporting McCain?
I don’t. They’re probably afraid to show it on this council.
What are your next steps as a delegate?
My next step is to get geared up for the convention and get my marching orders. I’m going up to Sacramento May 18th to find out what we need to do to make arrangements for the convention and just start honing my persuasion skills and be willing to take this fight all the way to the floor of the convention.
Hillary sent me a very nice letter congratulating me for becoming one of her delegates. Its framed and on the wall.
When I ran for Congress, I got to know the Clintons a little bit. In 1998, Bill Clinton called me personally at home to urge me to run for Congress. And then when I ran for Congress both he and Hillary were involved in my campaign – he came out and did a very successful fundraiser for me one afternoon – he was able to raise $100,000 for me one afternoon. There were a lot of people who wanted to spend a $1000 to be in the same room with. He said it was to see me, but I knew that wasn’t true.
Do you have any plans to run for Congress again?
Congress is always an interesting option for me. If Jane Harman were ever to vacate her seat that is something that I would look at. I think I would make a good congresswoman.
For more on what Janice Hahn is doing at the L.A. City Council, the Presidential race, and more, keep an eye on her blog.