February 13th, 2008
03:50 PM ET
10 years ago

Blitzer: 'Be careful what you wish for'


WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the world of politics, be careful what you wish for.

The politicians in Florida and Michigan thought that by moving up their primaries before Super Tuesday, they would exert greater influence on the nomination of their respective party’s presidential candidates. The Republican National Committee stripped those states of half of their delegates. The Democrats stripped those states of all of their delegates.

John McCain has a huge advantage right now in the Republican delegate count. That explains why there isn’t much buzz about what the Republicans did.

But it’s a very different story on the Democratic side.

Hillary Clinton “won” the Florida and Michigan contests even though she and her rivals promised not to campaign in those states. They didn’t. She did show up in Florida on the night of the primary to claim victory. She had a huge rally there.

The only names on the Democratic ballot in Michigan were those of Clinton and Dennis Kucinich. Barack Obama’s name was nowhere to be found there, though his name was on the Florida ballot. And with the candidates not allowed to campaign in either state, it wasn’t really much of an election - though Florida and Michigan Democrats certainly showed up in good faith to vote.

Now there are lots of background discussions and efforts underway to determine whether the millions of Democratic voters in those two states will actually be disenfranchised at the Democratic Convention in Denver at the end of August. That’s because the party’s nomination could come down to a floor vote.

If Clinton and Obama remain competitive after the March 4 contests in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, and the other remaining contests, including Pennsylvania's April vote, then it could come down to a brokered convention. Will the Florida and Michigan delegates be seated? There could be a huge and historic credentials fight, the first since 1972 when Democrats finally nominated George McGovern.

Here’s the irony: By moving up their contests, the Florida and Michigan Democrats wound up with exactly what they feared would happen to them if they waited until Super Tuesday. They became marginalized. Had they held their contests as originally scheduled, it potentially would have been very different. Let’s see if the problem can be fixed.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. masgap

    Is there anyway these two states can reschedule? I feel it was too great a punishment to deprive these people of a voice in selecting their president.

    why can't the DNC help with the costs.

    February 13, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. William D

    Ridiculous. The problem can't be fixed. The races were held at a different point in the campaign, when Edwards was still in the race. What will they do, ask him to come back?

    February 13, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Paul Nolan

    You lack a sense of history. The credentials fight related to McGovern was the threat to steal his winner take all primary win in California. It was a fight in which Willie Brown electrified the convention crowd with an appeal to play by the rules. No one should compare the effort to stave off someone stealing delegates in 1972 with the false claim that Hillary has to delegates in primaries that were not sanctioned. You as a member of the press have a duty to do more than give pop history and adding to conflict. You ought to be giving some perspective that there won't be a conflict here in the end, because Hillary doesn't have any legitimate claim.

    February 13, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. Murry

    Hillary's attempt to change the rules after the fact is deplorable.

    Hillary talks about voters rights yet she really covets those superdelegates. So which is it? Pick a side. Obama is on the side of the voters.

    Given Obama's in roads in attracting women, poor, and whites, I wouldn't be suprised if Michigan came out in his favor if the ballots were recast next month.

    February 13, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. FLA

    Regarding Florida, let's be very clear, no candidates campaigned in FLA – not Clinton, not Obama and not Edwards. All candidates raised funds here – Clinton, Obama and Edwards were all here fundraising. Only Obama has television ads here – they were part of a national ad package he purchased. All candidates names were on the FLA ballot. The voter turnout in FLA was high because we had a constitutional ammendment regarding taxes on the ballot.

    Also, the Republican dominated legsilature would not agree to change back to the original primary date.

    While I believe the primary in Michigan was very different and can understand the controversy regarding seating those delegates, the FLA primary had a high turnout and had all candidates on the ballot. Everyone was here fundraising and only Obama had an ad on TV. The FLA delegates should be seated if we go to the convention and neither candidate has enough delegates. If one candidate already has enough delegates, then the argument is moot.

    February 13, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. masgap

    To William D the timing is irrelevant so there's two candidates instead of three so what? Give people a voice and don't disfranchize them. Hillary would win anyways

    February 13, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Avis C, Richton Park,IL

    Wolf, you're absolutly right on. I think Michigan and Florida are important, however the delegates didn't follow the rule. I don't think it's right that Barack Obama's name wasn't on the ballott in Michigan. I think it would be a good idea to have another election in Florida and Michigan so that the voters aren't disenfranchised, and so we don't use those superdelegates. These 2 states might very well determine who the Democratic nominee should be.

    I hope this problem can be fixed, all votes count!

    February 13, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. observer#1

    Florida and Michigan are still states of the United States of America. How can 14 million peoples voice not be heard? If Obama believes the words he delivers at EVERY speech, "We are one people, the people of the USA" then he needs to practice what all that preaching is about, NO ONE AMERICAN SHOULD GO UNCOUNTED. Give those people their voice back, its every Americans right. Their delegates should be reinstated, the people have spoke.

    February 13, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. kevin from alaska

    The Democrats agreed not to seat them. End of story.

    February 13, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. Lyle Baucom

    Go Willy Brown. He is an authoritative member of the Democratic Party and his ability to understand the rules of the party should be the standard for newsmen, not paid political pundits that are not party members and yet given so much air time by CNN. Willy has not endorsed a candidate as Wolf and his CNN coworkers so clearly have in this election. Why should independents get to control the democratic party? Willy explains that the role of super delegates is to keep the election as demonstrating the view of democrats, not independents. This is the first time CNN has interviewed someone who has explained the super delegates. Most of he pundits used by CNN insinuate that the super delegates are a Clinton plot to deny Obama election.

    February 13, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. Antonio


    Correction, Obama's name was on the ballot, but he was the one to remove his own name. No one forced him too. And regarding the campaign in FL. He ran adds there so technically he did campaign there. So be fair and don't just point the finger on her.

    February 13, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Shawn Smith, Kansas City, MO

    Hillary deserves those delegates. I love how now that Barack Obama and his disturbed wife(who dropped Stevie Wonder on stage and left him there lol) is up in Pledged delegates he is saying it should be up to the pledged delegates not the super delegates to decide the nomination. Well to be fair Barack, should'nt FL count, which will put her over the top? =D

    February 13, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. Papa Roach

    Hillary's crying over Fl and MI shows she's desperate. It has become clear to her she's losing fast and hard and she will lie, cheat and steal to win this nomination. I'm surprised she hasn't tried shimmying down a 'Mission Impossible' hoister over Obama during one of his rallies trying to grab the mic from him. That's the only thing that's missing here folks, she's desperate.

    February 13, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. tmax

    You forgot to mention Vermont for March 4th, thank you very much.
    Oh, Bush forgot to visit us for the past eight years too, but that's okay.

    February 13, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. joyce

    Cafferty has lost his credibility with his constant negativity against the Clintons. We turn him off.

    February 13, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Mary

    After Hillary wins Texas, Ohio and Pennyslvania, will it matter?

    February 13, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Caveat Emptor

    Don't even try it. What's done is done. No more trickery from Florida. The whole election process will go out the window have no credibility whatsover. This must be Hillary's idea? LOL.

    February 13, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. joyce

    Your program needs an equal balance for Cafferty's daily Clinton bashing.
    Does Cafferty get paid b y the Obama Camp?

    February 13, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. The Democratic party is in a serious pickle

    The votes aren't valid. Especially Michigan, with Hillary's name on the ballot and Obama's not. So you can't send pledged delegates from these states and call it fair.

    But, wow, this is a harsh penalty to the voters in these states. You can't ignore two states this large and call that fair, either! It's certainly not the voters' fault that the primary dates were moved.

    Unless there could be a "do-over" (who can even THINK of what this would mean?) I don't see any way out of this. The party should really have worked harder to prevent this in the beginning.

    HOPEFULLY Hillary can see how this divisiveness is hurting her party and let Obama carry the day. The longer she draws this out, the more damage this, and the superdelegate issue, will cause to the D's, and the more time the R's have to unite behind McCain. But I find this exceedingly unlikely given her personality and track record.

    February 13, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Anthony

    Rules are rules. Either chuck it out or have a do over with equal time for both canidates. Or if Sen. Barak wins at least Texas or Ohio then give them to Sen. Clinton because after that it won't matter. Nuff said!!

    February 13, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. Becky

    I AM A MICHIGANDER. This was a hoax.The votes should not count. I will tell you that I personally know 100's of 1000's of people who voted in the republican side or didn't vote at all because their VOTE wasn't going to count. Every Poll in MICHIGAN thru newspapers has Obama winning against all candidates How un fair of Hillary with the Help of Our Governor and Senators to try and change the rules AGAIN. For the STATUS QUO. Governor cannot run again but SENATORS beware this will not be forgotten and could be protested LOUDLY.

    February 13, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. Latha

    A friend of mine is depressing in another country. Perhaps I should send Obama to cheer him up. America is selecting a cheer leader to be the new president

    February 13, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Ron, TX

    I really don't think there's all that much of an argument on Hillary's side here. She said herself at several points before Florida and Michigan came around, that Florida and Michigan no longer mattered, and that no one should worry about how she left her name on the Michigan ballot because it doesn't count anyway.

    Those contests lost their purpose MANY months before their wasted primaries, and Hillary didn't seem to mind until a few weeks before, when all of a sudden, it was apparent that her trip to the White House wasn't going to be easy.

    February 13, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. Grif

    Maybe I should Add. I worked in Telecommunication. For another Country.... !959 1963.... in the Armed Forces..
    Kenya has'nt changed.....

    Another Dictator , here in North Amarica!!!

    Bring the Middle East right on your doostep...Why?????

    February 13, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. Jeffrey

    In michigan dnc can argue Obama name not is in the ballot.But florida is both name on ballot ,therefore it should count.CNN is suppporting Obama and try to campagin on his behalf not to count the delegate from florida and michigan, but if dnc donot accomadate those delegate when in the general election democarat may loose florida and michigan.

    February 13, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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