U.S. Democrats Push Unity Ahead of Party Convention

DENVER -- Democrats are preaching party unity on the eve of a four-day convention to nominate Barack Obama for the White House, with former rival Hillary Clinton preparing to urge her disgruntled supporters to back Obama.

More than 4,000 Democratic delegates and tens of thousands of officials, activists, protesters and journalists descended on Denver for the formal crowning of Obama, a first-term Illinois senator, as the party's leader and candidate for president.

About 1,000 Iraq war protesters rallied at the Colorado State Capitol and marched through the city streets to Denver's basketball arena, site of the first three days of the convention, where they dispersed without incident, police said.

Obama advisers played down the gathering's one potential note of discord -- the continued unhappiness among some supporters of Clinton, who was narrowly beaten by Obama in a bitter nominating struggle. Obama has tried to ease the tension, agreeing to let Clinton have her name placed in nomination and giving her a prime-time speaking slot on Tuesday night. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will speak Wednesday night.

Clinton plans to speak to her delegates on Wednesday morning and urge them to support Obama ahead of a roll call vote on the nomination that night, a Democratic Party source said.

But anger over her treatment flared among her supporters again when Obama chose Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate on Saturday -- and apparently never investigated putting her on the ticket.