March 5th, 2008
02:10 PM ET
6 years ago

Dems weigh lengthy fight to nomination

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Democrats settled in Wednesday for an extended fight to the presidential nomination after Tuesday's primaries failed to produce a clear frontrunner, while at least one Democratic leader urged party officials to let the electoral process take its course.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said now is not the time for party officials to wade into the fight over the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I think the electoral process has to work its way," she told reporters. "There are still many voters unheard from yet, and I think that our candidates both have the capacity to inspire, to bring out a big vote that will hold us in good stead in November, and I think that now is not the time for anybody to weigh in."

Many party officials are superdelegates, but Pelosi aides said that the speaker was cautioning party officials against pushing for a quick end to the nomination process rather than warning any who are superdelegates not to commit to a candidate.

Pelosi said she is confident the nominee will be decided before the Democratic convention in August.

She said she was "never among those who believed this would be resolved by now," and argued that the prolonged campaign is good for the party, offering Democrats a chance to "make a clear distinction" about their differences with Republicans on a range of issues.

She pointed to Iraq, noting the Democratic candidates are talking about "responsible redeployment versus a 100-year-war that Senator McCain has spoken about."

She was referring to McCain's comment that even after fighting ends, U.S. troops might remain in Iraq for up to 100 years, just as U.S. troops have remained in South Korea for more than half a century after the fighting there stopped.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., also hammered McCain on Iraq, saying, "Under President Bush and with John McCain's support, America's economy has been hijacked by Iraq and our investment there."

Democratic senators joined Pelosi in appearing confident the party will unite behind the eventual nominee and being largely unconcerned about the prospects of a lengthy battle.

"I don't think it's a bad thing," said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a former candidate who said the race is "far from over."

"At the end of the day we will unite to prevent another Republican from making it in the White House," he said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., agreed. "Most of us think that (Sen. John) McCain is nothing but a third term for (President) Bush," he said. "That in of itself should unite the party."

Other Senate Democrats said that so long as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama don't turn too negative against each other, the extended campaign could help whoever wins the nomination.

"We know the (Republican) attack machine is going to go after them in the general election. So to have the strongest candidate battle-tested is a good thing," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a Clinton supporter. "Obviously we don't want the fighting to get too sharp-edged, but so far so good."

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., an Obama supporter, said a lot of people are "wringing their hands" like Hamlet. But he called that "premature."

"Competition is good," he said. "All the media attention, until whatever date this is over, will be about Obama-Clinton and Sen. McCain is standing on the side saying, 'what about me?'"

But one Democratic senator, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, said she is already concerned the campaign has become too nasty.

"I just think we're going to have to be very careful that these two candidates don't tear each other apart because both are worthy, worthy people and would make excellent presidents," she said. "I was concerned about what we saw in the last week."

Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., said a lengthy fight for the nomination has the potential to divide the party, but he said he is confident Obama and Clinton will be "as professional as possible."

Tester said he has yet to endorse a candidate. He said he will base his decision in part on the popular vote from the June Montana primary, but will also weigh who he thinks has the best chance to beat McCain in the general election.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., argued Clinton is the best for the general election because she has done so well with Latino voters and has won key big states.

"I don't know how it is possible to win the general election if you cannot win in the Southwest, if you can't win Ohio, places like Florida," he said. "These are the key places to win the electoral vote."

–CNN Congressional Producers Deirdre Walsh, Ted Barrett and Kate Bolduan


(updated 6 p.m. ET with additional reporting)


Filed under: Congress • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (358 Responses)
  1. Anne

    Hey, idiots! You don't bow out when your winning! It is virtually impossible for her to overtake him in the delegate count, even if she can scare all of the racist Dems into voting for her like she did yesterday.

    March 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. Pepou

    Obama has won 26 races and has just won the caucuses in Texas. Why should he step down ? Hillay has run a pitiful campaign.

    March 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. louie from new york

    not fair at all to count those delegates. Obama did not campaign in those states. he stood by his word that he would not. both states were penalized and both states agreed.

    all the canidates agreed to stay out. Obama did not campaign at all wether it be in person or tv ads or etc. yet HRC had the nerve to step foot in florida on the day of there voting.

    yeah, experienced alright! experienced on how to use dirty politics. period. she walks around as this nomination is owed to her. this nomination belongs to the people.

    that's what Obama wants to represent: "We The People" not, Me Hillary

    March 5, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Eunice, Maryland

    Hillary has nothing to hide. Obama is actually the one that has so much to hide.

    Go Madam President.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 08

    March 5, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. Jeff

    STOP THE (OBAMA)NATION OF AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 5, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Thomas Dark

    Folks...
    Hillary is just more of the same. We have more than a trillion dollars lost in Iraq, we are on the edge of a recession...and we don't need another 'politician' doing more of the same back slapping and secret handshakes.

    The sad thing is none of you had the guts to vote for someone like Ron Paul...who would have really cleaned up government and gutted a lot of bureaucracy. Ok...fair enough...so ask yourself...truly...which of the remaining three (Hillary, Obama or McCain) would offer a true change.

    Obama is the only one.

    March 5, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Kthegreat

    I prefer Obama to clinton but I don't see how he can stop her now. Americans are very afraid and would only vote for the person who tells them that the terrorist are coming to their homes at 3am.

    March 5, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. JDC

    This Republican switched parties to prolong the Democrats agony...the bitter fight coming and bad blood between Obama & Hillary. We soon should see all the dirty laundry hanging out for both Dems. I love it!

    March 5, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  9. Tim

    Shane you better take your shoes off and count because neither will have enough pledge delegates and they will not only have to have Superdelegates but Florida and Michigan will have to be dealt with to they have no choice .And guess what thats Clinton Country .You are the one that needs a reality check .

    March 5, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Minh

    People got to realize that the Hilary victories in TX n OH could be because she got Republican voting 4 her-a shameful political tactic

    March 5, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. READTHIS

    So now the republicans are sending messages to their party to vote for Clinton! WHY? Because they want MCain to run against her! So don't give up Obama supporters, now we have to get out more votes. Spread the word... We need you....

    OBAMA 08

    March 5, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. Barb

    They are insane to let her continue down the path she has begun. She has basically put herself on the side of the Republicans and caused such division in the DNC. She is a train wreck waiting to happen!

    March 5, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. Neale

    What a joke this is from Pelosi. We didn't hear her asking supers to stay out while hillary had most of them, but now that Obama is ready to even it up with his 50 additional supers all of the sudden she wants silence? Get over yourself lady, your personal preferences are showing.

    This insignifcant bump of 30 delegates or so does nothing for hillary. Obama still has a commanding lead in pledged delegates of 130. It's not possible for her to catch him. She should withdraw now before she causes any more damage within the party.

    March 5, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. mike

    if Obama had more pledged delegates, and Clinton got the nomination, then, I may think about voting for McCain...

    March 5, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Joey

    If Hillary and the superdelegates steal this election, there NEEDS to be a Obama write in vote (or independent run ;-) ;-) ) to let the party officials know that they need to reform the system so that the people's choice counts.

    It's not like we'd be handing the race to the republicans. If it was even close then I would pick the lesser of two evils, but polls show us that there's no chance that Hillary "Mini-McCain" Clinton can beat John "Grandpa Experiance" McCain in the general election anyway.

    (If Clinton does manage to win the elected delegates, and not STEAL with the superdelegates then I suppose I'd support her, but there's a fat chance of that at this point)

    March 5, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Jane

    I was just wondering, if Hillary receives the Democratic nomination and many of us leave the party over it, can Obama then run as an Independent and retain voters who back him?

    March 5, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Mabuka

    Facts:
    Hillary finally won something..go Hillary..woo hoo...the little first lady that could.

    Obama severely limited what were supposed to be huge victories in both Texas and Ohio. 3 weeks ago he was over 23 points down in OH and 15 down in TX.

    Obama still has almost 150 (give or take with TX caucus still coming in) more pledged delegates..i.e. actually won thru voting

    3 weeks ago it was a widely held view she had to win both OH and TX by huge margins to continue. Obama will have more delegates from Texas. Enough to essentially negate her Ohio and some of her RI wins. By the standard of then (which keeps moving to keep her in it) she's done!

    Obama is gaining in super delegates. Among the one's that have pledged support, Hillary leads by about 35-40. She did have a lead of over 150 back in January.

    Opinion:
    where is the big win for Hillary..she failed to do what she needed to do last night?!? The only way she can win now is by corruption...which the Clintons are highly capable of...I wouldn't doubt if they pulled some slick stuff last night.

    Once he retains his current lead thru April..more will go his way. Don't forget: NC has 118 delegates, Puerto Rico 50 or so...that will cancel out PA. PA will be closer than you think...he may even win.

    Where is her experience...foriegn policy, national security, or any other for that matter???
    When the phone rings at 3am, do you want someone who's going to compain that they always get called first and is irritated that Slick Willy didn't offer her his pillow when he snuck out in the middle of the night?

    March 5, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Steven Barone

    The talking heads on TV are saying that Hillary and Barack are the dream ticket and that Democrats will support either of them. Not Me! Hillary Clinton is ruthless and she will destroy her opponents and the Democratic Party in order to get what she wants. I am a lifelong Democrat but I will never vote for another Clinton again. Instead of the politics of fear and personal destruction I choose Barack Obama and hope! She will set the Democratic party back 50 years if she gets her way. It isn't Hillary that's creating all the excitement and bringing out new voters, it's Barack Obama!

    March 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. carl

    I will never vote for Hillary if she becomes the nominee; her canddidancy raises so many doubts. she accuses Obama of being a muslim, accuses him of being against the Jews, lied about NAFTA and flip flops on different issues. Failed to release her tax returns, Obama campaign also failed to raise the campaign fraud issue, Hillary vs Paul.
    A vote for Hillary is a vote for a liar and fraudster.

    March 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. TJ WILLIAMS, Los Angeles, CA

    Obama supporters will NEVER SUPPORT THE SHE-WITCH. She can't win with the 48% knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who support her slime tactics. Her only hope to return to the Whaite house it to pick up any tidbitts (cigars, blue dress) Bill may have left behind.
    IF SHE STEALS THE NOMINATION....A VOTER BLACKOUT....WILL GUARANTEE A REAL CANDIDATE IN 2012. REMEMBER AL GORE!

    March 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  21. Harvey

    Make history first woman president

    men of all races were allowed to vote before women

    Hillary 08

    March 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  22. viv

    half of you Hilliary supporters said yesterday she was desperate now you are saying he's desperate. I can't wait for you all to see what she is really like, then we will see who is the liar and filled with empty promises. OBAMA SHOULD BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT NOT A HAS BEEN. OBAMA 08
    OBAMA 08
    OBAMA 08
    OBAMA 08
    OBAMA 08
    OBAMA 08 NOW WHAT!

    March 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. Bobby

    Please Nancy Pelosi, please step in and request your two nominees to base their campaign on trust, integrity, honesty, gracefulness and stop the bickering, the dirty tricks, the negative adds, misrepresentation of the truth and stop attacking each other. How will the negative adds, the accusations help in the process of the correct candidate being selected, when the Republicans can and may use the same information each candidate said about the other. Based on what is portrayed it appears that the Democrats do not want to win this election, why fight against each other,is it because one wants to win at the cost of the other, but then can lose to the Republicans based on what your Senators said during the debates, the ads, the internet and in the press.
    I am not residing in the USA, but is residing in another North American country, but was born and raised in a Third world country - what is being displayed about your two Senators to the world does is a bad example - for Americans normally travels overseas when there are elections as observers - is the same process in place for Third World countries to send observers - this would have been great for the Third World countries observers to view the process that took place in Texas.
    My ardent request and prayer is for Nancy Pelosi to speak to her two Senators to demonstrate themselves as aspiring leaders.

    March 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. Truth Be Known

    GOD WILL BE HILLARY"S JUDGE, LET US PRAY.

    If the ticket was meant to be let them have cake. Until that time come let them race....

    March 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Jackson

    Why can't people understand that seating the delegates now form the Michigan and Florida primaries is ludicrous?

    Clinton won barely over 50% in Michigan and she was only running against herself – no other major candidate was on the ballot. Others were on the ballot in Florida but they weren't allowed to campaign – Clinton is th only name people knew (she also just so happened to be at 'events' in Florida at the time). Seating these delegates at this time is not a win for democracy but rather a move towards autocracy.

    March 5, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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