By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press
BOSTON - Pressed against the stage wall, delegates C.J. Prentiss and Charlene Coates hashed out the question on the floor of the Democratic National Convention, temporarily oblivious to the cheers, bobbing signs and recorded music blaring overhead.
At issue: should delegates for U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio nominate the one-time presidential candidate out of principle's sake or throw their support to John Kerry?
"Many delegates wish to vote their conscience because they've supported Kucinich and that's what they were elected to do," said Charlene Coates of Cleveland, a poet and full-time caregiver for her grandmother.
Prentiss, also of Cleveland, is negotiating with party officials to have some mention made during Wednesday's nominating speech of Kucinich delegates' support for the candidate.
Although all the delegates are supporting Kerry, such public recognition "gives respect in my mind to the candidacy of Dennis Kucinich or any other candidate that ran for the office," Prentiss said.
Some, like Coates, feel strongly enough about the need for recognition that they didn't know on Tuesday what they would do.
"I'm not sure yet," Coates said. "I might be deciding right at the last minute but I know I'll make the right choice."
The Kerry campaign would not comment on any negotiations with Kucinich, calling the issue a moving target.
"We're working with the Kucinich delegates to unite everyone behind John Kerry's positive vision of a stronger America," said Kerry campaign spokeswoman Kathy Roeder.
Ohio Democratic Party chairman Dennis White said he doesn't expect a resolution until Wednesday.
"It's great they're willing to pledge their support for John Kerry - we just have to work out what wording that they're happy with," White said.
Kucinich released his delegates Monday after meeting with them, saying they should vote their conscience.
"We've got a healthy democratic process here where the spirited delegates who were pledged to me are going through this process of reflection," he said Tuesday when asked about delegates' qualms.
The convention would end with all delegates united to support Kerry, said Kucinich, who had about 60 delegates.
Kucinich addressed the issue after a 15-minute speech Tuesday before about 350 supporters - though not all delegates - at a peace forum near Boston Commons.
His remarks in opposition to the war in Iraq and the need for a progressive viewpoint were interrupted by applause several times and ended with a standing ovation.
Washington state delegate Wes Hamilton says he'd be willing to publicly nominate Kerry if he got the chance to identify himself first as a Kucinich delegate. Washington has seven Kucinich delegates.
"All we're asking is, give us something you can show us, that you recognize the value we represent to the Democratic party," said Hamilton, 56, a retired state government worker.
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