Obama signed a pledge not to campaign or compete in Florida if the state breaks DNC rules.
(CNN)–Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards joined three other Democratic candidates for president by promising to skip states that break party rules and hold early primaries.
On Friday, the four states allowed by the DNC to hold their nominating contests before February 5 — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina — asked the Democratic field to sign a pledge not to campaign or compete in Florida if it violates party rules. Obama, Clinton and Edwards all said Saturday they would sign the pledge.
“As I have campaigned across America over the last six months, it’s become clear that Governor Dean and the Democratic National Committee have put together a presidential nomination process that’s in the best interests of our party and our nation,” Obama said in a statement released Saturday. “I look forward to continuing the dialogue with voters and building the kind of grassroots movement in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina and the rest of the country that will send a clear signal to Washington that the American people are ready for change.”
"We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process," Clinton's campaign manager said in a statement Saturday. "And we believe the DNC’s rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role. Thus, we will be signing the pledge to adhere to the DNC approved nominating calendar."
“This election, more than any other, is about real change and choosing the candidate who is going to fight for that change,” Edwards said in a statement released by his campaign Saturday. “Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina need to be first because in these states ideas count, not just money. These are places where voters get to look the candidate in the eye and measure their policies, ideas, and integrity. That’s why I am signing this pledge. This tried-and-true nominating system is the only way for voters to judge the field based on the quality of the candidate, not the depth of their war chest."
On Friday, Senators Joe Biden of Delaware, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signed the pledge.
Also on Friday, Gov. Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC, called on his party’s White House hopefuls to support a DNC decision to strip the state of Florida of its say in the nomination process if it proceeds with plans to hold its presidential primary on January 29, eight days earlier than party rules allow.
"No matter which cards we're dealt, Florida Democrats are going to win the state's 27 electoral votes and elect a Democratic President in 2008," said Leonard Joseph, Florida Democratic Party Executive Director. "The country needs us."
The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee ruled in a meeting in Washington last Saturday that Florida Democrats would lose all of their delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver unless they modified their primary plans within 30 days.
– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford