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PUMAs drown their sorrows at GOP event

From NBC's Cherelle Kantey
DENVER -- Last night, in another effort to fan the flames of tension between Obama and Clinton supporters, the Republican National Committee held a "Happy Hour for Hillary,"

About 75 people floated in and out of the hip Paramount Café here to share drinks and trade viewpoints. The mostly female crowd of Hillary supporters flanked in Hillary buttons and "Nobama" stickers were willing to share their woes with all who would listen.

"We worked hard together," said Kathy Archuleta, who recalled making numerous phone calls as a volunteer and loaning the campaign money. "It couldn't have been very easy for her to just drop it."

Wearing a brown T-shirt with "Hillary" written across it in blue, Archuleta said she was outraged that Sen. Clinton's historic run for the presidency ended in heartbreak. "Women are realizing we're not being recognized. We're being treated like second-class citizens."

Among the crowd of middle-aged women stood Wayne Singleton, an African-American male, who said he can't throw his support behind Sen. Obama because of flaws in the nominating system. Singleton, an organizer for People of Color PUMAS, said that since Obama didn't win the popular vote during the primary season, he is prepared to protest the DNC's decision by voting for John McCain. (Actually, Obama won the popular vote by almost every metric, except for the one that counted Hillary Clinton's vote in Michigan, where Obama wasn't on the ballot.)

"As a protest, I'm telling the DNC that I'm not going to reward you for a process that's flawed, and for pushing a candidate that's experienced out," Singleton said, noting that adding Biden to the ticket doesn't complement Obama's lack of foreign policy experience. "Joe Biden is not going to put experience into someone who's not experienced."

The most passionate was Robin Carlson, who said she is furious that people have let their admiration for Barack Obama outweigh his lack of experience. "This is a country. This isn't who's your favorite rock star," said Carlson. "This is serious business."

An organizer for GrassrootsforHillary.com, Carlson has already started contributing funds for a 2012 Hillary campaign, because she said she is so angry about the DNC decision to name Sen. Obama the presumptive Democratic nominee. (But the DNC never named Obama the presumptive nominee; in fact, he won more pledged delegates than Clinton did.)

"It's beyond anger. I'm despondent," said Carlson, while sipping her white wine. "There's a great sadness that the party I belong to is operated in a way that's not democratic."

Carlson also shared an emotional story about surviving uterine cancer, and how her battle with cancer made her identify closely with Sen. Clinton's fight for the White House. "I entered this year writing my own funeral plans," Carlson said tearfully. "When I saw Hillary fight, I said 'if she can fight, then so can I.'"

By the end of the night, the party emptied out and one Obama delegate trickled in. Brian Spittler, a 24-year old delegate from Utah, didn't seem too bothered by the angry Hillary supporters, or even the McCain campaign representatives decked out in McCain T-shirts, drinking beers in the corner.

"The story is overblown," said Spittler. "Some people are hurt but by and large everyone is coming together."