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. Amy, Kazoo


    tell me why Obama left his name on the FL ballot but not the MI ballot. Tell me how that's fair to all of MI. tell me that doesn't smell.

    February 13, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. Stephanie

    Hillary signed the agreement to have the Florida and Michigan votes not count. Sound like a contract if you ask me. Now she wants out of her contract. This is particularly sleazy and utterly reprehensible. She's a lawyer. She knows about contracts. This just makes me wonder how many times she'd go back on her word in the Oval Office, if it advances her self-serving agenda. Also, the Floridians and Michiganers, in their zest for an early primary, should have contacted those responsible for setting the primary dates, so that their participation counted.

    February 13, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  3. Dr Chike Igbokwe

    If push becomes shove ,then there would be no other alternative than for the calling of a repeat of the primaries in Michigan and Florida.It is obvious who has the momentum.Democrats better get thier acts together,use of super-delegates to decide the winner is synonymous with selection not election.

    February 13, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. Mel

    Loved the 'pile on' letter from Al Sharpton to John Dean today – asking that Florida and Michigan delgates not be seated. If we Democrats are listening to Al Sharpton for moral and ethical guidance, then we're in deep stuff.

    February 13, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  5. PD

    What's done is done. The rules shouldn't be changed after the fact. It would be grossly unfair to those candidates that were not on Michigan's ballot. Chalk it up to a lesson learned by these two states, and a warning to future states to follow the rules of the game. The voters of Michigan and Florida should rethink who they have in spearheading their parties at the state level, because those people really screwed up.

    February 13, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  6. Change??? There is no change!

    Michael White...........just one question: what is the 'change' between the current millions uninsured people in the US and the proposed millions of uninsured by Senator Obama?

    He touts his 'change' message.........I can only really see a true Washington insider with candy covered words.

    February 13, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. Rob

    As a former lifelong Michigan Democrat, I can say this whole process has only furthered my belief that the Democratic Party has lost its way. I chose not to vote in our primary because I had no real choice on the ballot ("uncommitted" is not a choice in a democracy). I agree that Florida's delegates should be seated and counted with some kind of penalty similar to what the Republicans did (as at least everyone was on the ballot), but Michigan was a mess from beginning to end and that sham of a vote should not be counted as it stands.

    February 13, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. JC, Hot Springs, Arkansas

    Hillary won those delegates fair and square, without campaigning. They should count!! Michigan and Florida are too important to be left out!

    February 13, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. And Hillary's Opponent Is?

    I keep getting confused as to who Hillary is running against –
    Is it te media
    is it Ted or Caroline Kennedy
    Is iit Oprah

    Hillary stands on her own two feet – no one is confused as who she is!


    Does she think for herself on our behalf


    February 13, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. Chris Texas

    It is our constitutional right to vote.
    vote is a privledge given to each american citizen.
    Apparently the DNC doesn't believe this fact. I am a loyal Democrat who supporters Hillary, but would vote for Obama in a GE.
    I think the DNC is basically saying (O, well, we don't mind if you put a check in the box, but your voting privledges don't really count this time around). That is ridiculous. Everyone in Florida and Michigan that voted should be counted.
    Only the ignorant Obama supporters will say a negative thing about this because it would put Hillary back in the lead. Educated? I think Obama gets the majority of the (I lied about my college education) vote.

    February 13, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  11. Beth, Alabama

    What about all the Michigan / Florida would-be voters who didn't bother going in the booth because they were told it would not count? Mrs. Clinton does not care about these people because she already got what she wanted from the ones who showed up. If the shoe was on the other foot, you bet she would care! And cry alittle, too.

    February 13, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This sounds like the Clintons saying play by my game or not at all. This issue should hold no merit but to disinfranchise Obama as the front runner.

    February 13, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. james martin california

    For goodness sake please stop the tears. The Fla. and Mich. people made a choice and now must live with the consequences. Understand that what is at stake here is not a general election but rather a party election. The party has the power to set the rules and the state parties have the right to follow the rules or pay the price. The parties from these two states should not be allowed to have their delegates counted. They made a choice, and frankly I am tired of all the problems created by Fla. elections. Of course Hillary wants to count those delegates but she didn't want that when the rules were put into place and when she and the other candidates agreed to go along with the national party.

    February 13, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  14. PD

    What's done is done. The rules shouldn't be changed after the fact. It would be grossly unfair to those candidates that were not on Michigan's ballot. Chalk it up to a lesson learned by these two states, and a warning to future states to follow the rules of the game. The voters of Michigan and Florida should rethink who they have spearheading their parties at the state level, because those people really screwed up.

    February 13, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. Mike

    I think there was always the possibility that the votes would eventually be counted. Every democrat had the chance to vote. All candidates were on the Florida ballot, so suggesting a 'do-over' is irrelevant. Those votes should be counted.

    MIchigan democrats had a choice. Clinton or Uncommitted.
    If that's not clear, than by all means, have a 'do-over' in Michigan...

    But the Florida result was clear...She won that state fair and square.
    If Obama had won the state he would be doing the same as Hillary.

    The fact of the matter is that we have two great candidates and all democrats' should have a say in who becomes the next President.

    We all know America is better off headed by a democrat,
    and we should be ready to rally behind the winner whoever he or she is.

    February 13, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  16. Frank in KY

    Team Hillary has run a bad campaign. Just look at last night. Her intro song was from U2???? Aren't they Irish? I'm no political strategist but I would go with something American deep in the Heart of Texas. I think they were playing, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for". Can somebody confirm that. After her speech they probably still haven't found it.

    February 13, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. Stephanie in Alabama

    In Both Michigan and Florida, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama signed off on the DNC's decision to penalize them for voting early. That wasn't Senator Clinton OR Senator Obama's decision. It is not their place to say the delegates should be counted. It is NOT right for the DNC to change the rules after the fact.

    NOW, here is my opinion on the issue. Do NOT seat the delegates from either state as pledged to one candidate or the other. IF they must be seated, seat them as undecided in Denver. Allow both campaigns equal time to speak with the delegates and before Denver to meet in town halls with constituents. That is how Super Delegates are courted. True it creates 366 more SuperDelegates, but it is the most democratic way to handle this situation we find ourselves in.

    February 13, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  18. Goodheart

    Obama's name was on the Florida ballot.

    The Florida delegates should be seated; the votes should count!

    February 13, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  19. Jose Lopez

    Why didn't Hillary Clinton bring up the issue of using Flordia and Michigan while she was leading in the race???

    February 13, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. Vivian Quantz

    Jack, you have been one of the top newsmen in my opinion until now. You have become unbalanced in your reporting on Hillary Clinton. I am an independent and don't usually listen to a lot of this, but everywhere there is news it seems there are at least some who cannot keep their selves out of their reporting. MSNB and now CNN. I have always thought FOX was the biased one. I think each candidate deserves respect, after all look where they are, looking to be President of the United States. What have we, including you, done to be thinking we have the right to be biased in this important event? I have always believed the news business is the salvation of this country. It is sad to see and hear this.

    February 13, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. Matt

    The DNC made a terrible error by stripping these two states of their delegates. The solution is simple. The DNC and Howard Deqn need to eat their words and seat the Florida delegates since all three candidates were on the ballot. They then need to cough up big bucks and hold the Michigan primary over. No one can complain and everybody moves on. End of story.

    The Democrats cannot afford for the voters of Florida and Michigan to stay home in November and let John McCain win. If the votes are not counted, the Republicans will win.

    February 13, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. Frank

    I think the delegates should be seated in both Michigan and Florida. When it comes to the Michigan delegates Hillary should get what she deserves. It is not Hillary's fault that Obama and Edwards pulled their names from the ballot. No one was suppose to campaign in either state, yet ads by Obama and Edwards ran to tell the American public to vote uncommited. Now I would call that a campaign ad wouldn't you?

    February 13, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. Tim j


    You can't say votes don't count and then after the fact suddenly decide it counts. the DNC was clear beforehand what the rules were. They were clear what would happen if the rules were broken. They stuck to there word. If they didn't than you would have a whole bunch of other states moving their Primaries up as well. We would have set the stage for Primaries before Christmas and perhaps before Thanksgiving. Not to mention all of the candidates Hillary included agreed with the DNC's decision at the time. It was only after the fact she started complaining about it.

    February 13, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. Michael Marciniak

    From Pensacola, Florida,

    I am a Floridian and I saw Congresswoman Hilda Solis on Wolfs show. Hilda spoke about the huge turnout in Florida, but doesn' understand Why?. On Jan. 29th, 2008 The Floridians, both democrat and republicans turnout out in Large Numers FOR a Simple Constitutional Amendment for a Homestead Tax Braeak to save money on our Property Taxes.

    Solias needs to get a grip. Obama would win here hands down if the People of Florida had a chance to know him. And to also think that everyone in Florida was watching CNN or other news to be a political junky following the election is simple not true. In south Florida, they are sunning and playing cards as well as dominos and working as well as the rest of the state.

    The fact also remains that the average persons may talk about the candidates through word of mouth, Its when they get to know the candidate the most, just before the election do they make up their mind. Alot of the Clinton vote was because they simply know the name and when they get to know Obama, Obama Wins hands down. Whenever someone goes to the poles to vote for an admendment only usually the rare citizen who does not vote will pick the name they most know and that was the case in Florida.

    It was the Admendment Wolf, not the Candidate in florida Turnout. Think about it, We just received a $25,000.oo property taxe exemption.Wouldn't you go and vote too?

    February 13, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Robert

    Florida should count!

    Hillary won fairly in Fl.

    But not Michigan since Obama was not on the ballot.

    February 13, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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