September 2nd, 2007
08:51 AM ET
11 years ago

Obama, Clinton, Edwards to ignore rule breakers

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

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. J. Mekovsky Pittsburgh, PA

    Having lived in New Hampshire for two presidential primaries I was afforded the opportuinity to meet with several presidential candidatates, including Edwards, at events with less than 25 people. I cannot begin to describe the amount of access available to voters in New Hampshire during the primaries.

    Now that I am living in Pennsylvania, I can only read about and watch the action from a distance. No more time spent with candidates in small town libraries, or your neighbors living room. Why? Because PA is not a special state that gets to vote early.

    According to Edwards, "These are places where voters get to look the candidate in the eye and measure their policies, ideas, and integrity."

    Why are voters from these four states given such an advantage that the other 46 states in this country do not have. Are we as the "other states" less worthy of picking a candidate?

    I believe that the primaries should become a primary and be held on the same day. Spend your money and take your chances at campaigning, and spread the love around. I'm not particularly anxious to see who these four early states determine will be our next democratic nominee.

    September 1, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. David, Salinas, CA

    I agree that the early states have too much power in the current system, especially given their skewed demographics and the influence of local issues, (like ethanol in Iowa).

    But I still like the idea of an extended primary season, (though not a year long) to give the candidates a chance to slip up or catch up. I’d like to see four rotating regional primaries (east, south, mid-west and west) about three weeks apart with debates in between. That way we get a good look at all the possibilities without giving one state favoritism or letting the process drag on forever. All votes should be counted equally under one national standard system.

    Surely we can do better than this madness.

    September 1, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  3. C Minnesota

    I Think that they should rotate what four states vote for presidency that way four states, one in the midwest, east, south and west; get to pick. So its not the same four states getting the special attention every year. But so that people do get to know the canidates on a more personal level rather than a big money national wreck of a primary.

    September 1, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. John, Ashburn, Virginia

    I agree with Howard Dean on almost nothing but on the Florida primary issue I agree. The primary season is out of hand and the national parties need to show some leadership and fix this mess. Let's start the primaries in May. I don't care who goes first or in what order, but voting when we're still putting the Christmas decorations away is a bad idea and contributes to the obscene amount of cash candidates have to waste their time raising. I am already dreading 2008 and how the election season is going to embarass America again.

    September 1, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  5. Reggie Wilburn Alexandria, VA

    Why should Iowa and New Hampshire continue to have special status? Things change. What are these politicians afraid of? Why are they so concerned about their traditions? What about the voters?

    September 1, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  6. Raymond, El Paso TX

    I thought we were the United States of America. All states are important and each states' voice should matter, not just a select few.

    September 1, 2007 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  7. Brian L., Kissimee Florida

    It is clear now that this no longer a democratic process. Voters in four states get a greater say in who our presidents are??? Are the people in Florida's votes no longer going to be counted? The people in Florida never voted to change their primary, it was the politicians that changed it, but yet the people suffer.

    Congratulations Democrats you just lost a vote.

    "No taxation without representation!"

    September 1, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. Andrew, Jakarta, Indonesia

    As I understand, the letter calls for candidates to stop campaigning in these states, but still permits them to raise funds there. The DNC should consider this from the voter's perspective "you can't tell me what you will do for me, but you still want to take my money?" Cynical in the extreme, and hardly surprising that so many have lost faith in national politics. As a voter, I would restrict my contributions to state elections only.

    September 1, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    I would hope that all the candidates would reconsider their decision.

    This is such a bad idea, on so many levels that I cannot believe they have gone along with Howard Dean and the DNC. As commented earlier, the Republican legislature of Florida selected the date.

    Yes, the primary scheduling is out of hand; but you are going to make a point or fix it by alienating the very voters you need to win the general election?


    September 1, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  10. NS, New York

    With Democrats making decisions like these, the Republicans won't even have to pull any dirty tricks. The Dems are sabotaging themselves. The idea of offending Florida and Michigan in order to placate New Hampshire and Iowa is absurd. Can't anyone at the DNC count? And how does a political committee think it is entitled to overrule the decision of an elected legislature?

    September 1, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  11. Julie, Columbia MO

    The nomination process makes sense. If everyone went at the same time, candidates that were lesser known would find it impossible to get the kind of name recognition and exposure necessary to get elected. I would be fine with some kind of rotation from election to election, but a cross-country mix of smaller states should go first, because the larger a state, the more a big name matters relative to ideas, as Edwards alluded to.

    September 1, 2007 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  12. Alex Luthor, Madison, WI

    No primaries. All presidential candidates on all the ballots in all states. Problem solved. Money saved. Fairness resolved.Keep it as simple as possible to garner the most VOTER participation.

    September 1, 2007 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  13. Jimmy, Cherokee Ok

    Becare of the Republican's intention to disrupt once again the Electorial Process. I find it quite funny. The Democrats have been saying they think the Electorial Process needs looked at. The Republican has stood tight on disagreeing with the Democrats on this issue since 2000, all of a sudden, the possiblity that the Republicans are going to loose again in 2008, suffer heavly looses. So now they want to change Calafornia's Electorial process. Why now Republicans. You don't think that the Electorial process should undergo reform nationally, but you do think it should happen in California. I see change the rules in the middle of the election so to win. The Florida Michigan game is another technique to cofuse the American people. More keeping them isolated and in the dark. If they can't win honestly they will do everything they can dishonestly and then try to blame it on the Democrats. For 25 years the Republican machine has been disrupting our Great Nation and its governing process. It is now time. Down with the Republican machine. Down with the unmoral Republicans now and forever. It is time for real morals Vote Hillary Clinton for President 2008. And fill the house and Senate. Good bye Republicans

    September 2, 2007 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  14. Marsha, Portland, OR

    I think this is STUPID. The fact that Florida would not be represented in the primaries is stupid of the DNC. The fact that Florida is trying to be in the "me first" category is Stupid. The idea that four states is more important than other states is Stupid! So, Florida needs to just realize that it does count as one of the most important states because of the mere fact that it is HUGE and stop worrying about the date. And the DNC needs to realize that to strip any state of it's right to a primary is wrong, because you are stripping VOTERS not the state. This whole argument is just dumb and as much as I'm a Democrat and love my party – it validates the idea that Democrats cannot agree on anything.

    September 2, 2007 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  15. erika morgan black dimond wa

    I don't know what it is but there has to be a better way for our parties to choose their candidate. There is also a platform to consider. Somehow the primary needs to allow a free and independent choice of candidate and platform with enough pre-discussion for a valid option right across the country on the same day everywhere. There also needs to be grassroots caucusing available to any interested voters in pre-discussions.

    September 2, 2007 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  16. steve Loudon, TN

    This way the deck is stacked and NO-ONE from the other 46 states primaries matter at all. This is "free and fair elections?" Hardly. This is just thievry, but what else is new.

    September 2, 2007 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  17. Molly, Iowa City, Iowa

    Whether Iowa and New Hampshire, So. Carolina and Nev. should go first in 08 was decided by unanimous vote by all the DNC delegates from each of the 50 states (plus DC), as well as the penalty for any state violating the agreed upon calendar over a year ago. While I disagree that there should be a national primary, or regional primaries due to the expense, which would make it cost prohibitive for almost all political candidates. The nominee would be the candidate with the most funds, not the best qualified, or candidate who is most electable in the general election. The bottom line is the calendar was set by unanimous vote of DNC delegates. Each states DNC delegates voted in favor of the calendar, and sanctions for violating the calendar. Now (less than 6 months before the Iowa caucus is not the time to change the calendar. The time to change the calendar is when the next calendar is set between the 08 and 2012 election.

    September 2, 2007 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  18. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton, Florida

    Brian if this issue is going to make you vote Republican with all the lies, shady backroom deals and corruption (and in Sen Larry Craig and Rep. Mark Foley's case, hypocrisy) that their party represents, than you are seriously nitpicking to your own detriment.

    September 2, 2007 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  19. Kathryn LeBaron Davis IL

    What about ILLinois we are right next to Iowa and we are a mostly Democratic state. We would like to get in on the action. We need to rotate the primary states so others get a chance to make a difference.

    September 2, 2007 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  20. Fairness Doctrine Freddy, House of Glass, Maryland

    Typical CNN spin. The headline screams "Obama, Clinton, Edwards to Ignore Rule Breakers" which strongly implies they will turn a blind eye to wrong doing. Am I watching FOX or CNN? Or does it even matter anymore.

    September 2, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Carolina Dude

    Instead of denying the Florida delegates the ability to participate in the Denver Convention, just force them to be the very LAST primary in the US.

    This should punish them sufficiently for breaking the rules, but still allow the Florida delegates to vote in the nominating convention.

    September 2, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Jimmy, Cherokee ok

    Its not up to the RNC of DNC when state's hold their primaries, but there has to be some kind of rules regulating it. This election cucle is to late to change the rules. The proper time would be their diplomatic channels as soon as the election is over. This is not about who goes first. Florida Wyoming and Michigan are all three controlled by Republicans. The Democrats do not have enough power in these states to turn around the decesion, other words this would not be happening in these states if they were Democratic controlled. The Republicans smell defeat in 2008 and are doing what ever they can to disrubt the AMERICAN ELECTORIAL PROCESS in the middle of the election only to confuse the American People and futher weaken our GREAT NATION. What kind of example are the Republicans showing our youth with all the rule breaking and fit throwing cause their not getting it thier way. Demolhish the Republican Party simple because they block and disrubt anykind of government and the AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE LAST ON THEIR LIST. WE ARE INVISABLE

    September 2, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  23. JC, Motor City, MI

    Perhaps voters will ignore them in them in the general election? What candidate would want to win Florida and Michigan anyway?

    September 3, 2007 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  24. Patrick Ewing, Miami Beach Florida

    Why isn't the media making more of this.
    As a Floridian I feel like my vote does not count anymore. For the primaries to be fair, there should be all 50 states on the same day. I have to say if this petty
    child like behavior continues in Florida I am going to become an independent and not vote for any democrat.

    September 3, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  25. James, Phoenix AZ

    LOL – the DNC voiding the floridians vote. I hope the country is watching closely to see how "justice" is served under the Democrats... if you don't agree with their view – you're rights are summarily dismissed.

    September 4, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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