ST. LOUIS (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is not expected to appear at Netroots Nation, an annual convention of liberal activists and bloggers who are often courted by Democratic presidential candidates.
Organizers of the event said Wednesday that Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley have confirmed to appear at the July 16-19 conference in Phoenix and will appear on stage separately during a Saturday morning town hall-style event that will include questions from the audience.
Clinton's campaign cited a scheduling conflict for her absence, saying the Democratic front-runner is already scheduled to speak at an Iowa Democratic Party event in Cedar Rapids on July 17 and a Democratic dinner in Little Rock, Arkansas, where her husband once served as governor, the following night. Sanders and O'Malley are also scheduled to speak at the Iowa dinner.
About 3,000 activists are planning to attend the convention, which will also feature Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Many liberals had hoped she would challenge Clinton for the nomination. The weekend includes panel discussions among progressive activists and labor leaders and features several Democratic members of Congress.
Clinton remains the dominant Democratic candidate but one of her challenges in the primaries will be generating support among some liberals who have been hesitant to back her campaign, wary of her willingness to rein in Wall Street excess and her past support of trade deals.
Clinton has campaigned as a fighter for middle class voters, outlining economic policies she says will help working families. Her campaign has also sought to embrace supporters of gay marriage and released a video Wednesday noting her support.
"Our campaign looks forward to earning the support of the Democrats participating in this conference but Hillary Clinton has scheduling conflicts which will prevent her from attending. She wishes them the best on their conference," Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said.
Clinton last appeared at Netroots Nation in 2007 — then called Yearly Kos — at a presidential forum that also included then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and others.
She received a tepid response from activists, some of whom disapproved of her vote in favor of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and her acceptance of campaign contributions from lobbyists.
Raven Brooks, Netroots Nation's executive director, said the conference is hopeful the Clinton campaign "will reconsider addressing this core progressive community who are most eager to hear from her."
Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/kthomasdc
This story has been corrected to show that the conference was previously called Yearly Kos, not Year Kos.