(CNN) - Hillary Clinton repeated Thursday that delegates from Florida and Michigan be seated at the Democratic Party’s national convention this summer, and appeared to suggest she is open to the possibility of holding do-over contests in both states.
"I'm going to let the leadership of both states see what they think is the best approach," Clinton told reporters in Washington. "I think that it would be a grave disservice to the voters of Florida and Michigan to adopt any process that would disenfranchise anyone and I'm still committed to seating their delegations and I know that they're working with the Democratic party to determine how best to proceed."
Clinton's latest calls for the delegations to be seated come amid an increasingly heated back-and-forth between officials from both states and the national parties. Both the Republicans and Democrats sanctioned both states earlier this year for holding their primaries ahead of February 5 - the Democrats said Michigan and Florida's entire delegations would not be seated at the convention while the Republicans said only half of each state's delegates could be seated.
The Democrats’ decision on how to proceed with both states' delegates could have critical impact on the presidential nominating race - both Barack Obama and Clinton are locked in close contest for pledged delegates, and neither will be able to attain the needed 2,024 to clinch the nomination.
Obama's campaign has criticized Clinton for seeking to "change the rules" after Florida and Michigan voted, and said it will follow the party's leadership on the issue. Clinton came out on top of both states' meaningless contests in January. Neither candidate campaigned in the states, and Obama was not on the ballot in Michigan.
Clinton's comments come the same day Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a supporter of the New York senator, formally wrote a letter to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, calling on him to pay for a re-vote in his state. (Read Nelson's Letter [PDF])
“With two outstanding candidates battling so closely for their party’s nomination, there’s no way you can tell nearly two million Florida voters they don’t count," he said.
Dean has said the party will not pay for do-over contests.
"[The DNC's] job now is to elect the President of the United States and we're not going to have the resources to run a primary in Michigan or Florida," Dean said on CNN's American Morning Thursday. "So we hope they can comply with the rules, but they're going to have to figure out how to pay for it."
Related: Florida Gov Charlie Crist discusses the potential of a second primary
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Barack Obama’s campaign said Thursday that it had set a new campaign fundraising record, raising $55 million in February – roughly $20 million more than rival Hillary Clinton during the same time period. Nearly all of the money came in the form of contributions that can be used during the primary process.
The campaign said that 727,972 donors contributed to the campaign last month, including 385,101 first-time contributors. More than one million individuals have donated to Obama’s presidential campaign since it began last year.
More than $45 million of the February haul came in the form of online contributions, according to the campaign. More than 90 percent of those donations were $100 or less; half were $25 or less. Three-quarters of online donors in February were first-time contributors, and more than a third of those individuals went on to engage in volunteer activity coordinated through the campaign’s Web site.
(CNN)— As the Democratic candidates await news of a potential Florida, Michigan do-over, they continue their political mud slinging. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, Mary Snow reports on the attacks taking center stage Thursday.
John McCain’s campaign is putting together plans to paint a contrast between himself and the currently divided Democratic Party. CNN’s Dana Bash reports from the campaign trail on McCain’s effort to emphasize his ‘story biography.’
Throughout her presidential campaign Hillary Clinton has touted her years of experience, particularly on foreign policy. CNN’s Brian Todd gives a fact check on Clinton’s claims.
Finally, Democrats are still battling Democrats over Michigan and Florida’s delegates. Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider explains what it will take to have a second primary for the two states.
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–CNN’s Emily Sherman
(CNN) – Barack Obama’s campaign has debuted a new radio ad in Mississippi called "Respect," highlighting what they call “derogatory” remarks Hillary Clinton made about the state late last year.
The ad also argues that Obama will “practice his Christian faith by respecting us” - an apparent push-back against the false Muslim rumors that have dogged him throughout the campaign.
In the 30-second spot, former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus, an Obama supporter, derides Clinton for comments she made last fall singling out the state’s record of electing female politicians.
"I was shocked when I learned Iowa and Mississippi have never elected a woman governor, senator or member of Congress," Clinton told the Des Moines Register in October. "There has got to be something at work here. How can Iowa be ranked with Mississippi? That's not the quality. That's not the communitarianism, that's not the openness I see in Iowa.'"
Mabus accuses the Clinton campaign of calling Mississippi voters “second class.”
“Now I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of people putting us down,” Mabus says in the ad. “Tired of politicians trying to divide our nation instead of lifting it up.”
Mississippi voters head to the polls next Tuesday, March 11, with 33 Democratic delegates at stake.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Whatever it costs the taxpayers in Michigan and Florida to re-do their primaries – whether it’s $18 million or $25 million or even $30 million – would almost certainly be money well spent for their states. That’s because those states potentially stand to gain a lot more from having another round of what could be critical presidential primaries.
The Democratic Party stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates because they moved up the date of their primaries in violation of party rules. If Michigan and Florida have primaries in June after the last scheduled Puerto Rico Democratic caucuses on June 7, and neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama yet has the needed number of convention delegates, those two states will become the center of the political universe.
Think about how many millions of dollars will be pumped into the Michigan and Florida economies. The two campaigns alone will spend millions in political advertising. Other outside political interest groups will pump in millions more in commercials. The hotels, restaurants and other related industries in the states will be in high demand.
Both of those states will also gain an enormous amount of publicity, not only in the United States but around the world. It would be a bonanza for their respective tourism industries. Just think about the coming economic gain for Pennsylvania which holds its primary on April 22. This is one of the best things to happen to that state in a long time.
Remember - those are key factors why both Iowa and New Hampshire are always so diligent in preventing other states from usurping their first-in-the-nation status for the presidential contests. People there make a lot of money from their caucuses and primary.
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton’s campaign is denying a Canadian report Thursday that suggests her campaign called representatives of that nation’s government to re-assure them that despite campaign rhetoric, they would not seek changes to NAFTA – an allegation they used against Barack Obama’s campaign in the days leading up to Tuesday’s critical primary votes.
"Unlike the Obama campaign, we can and do flatly deny this report and urge the Canadian government to reveal the name of anyone they think they heard from,” Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said in a statement.
Shortly before the Ohio primary, the Canadian network CTV broadcast a report that Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had told officials with the Canadian consulate in Chicago that the campaign would not look to alter the trade agreement, even though the Illinois senator had pledged to do so.
That report became a lightning rod on the campaign trail in Ohio, where NAFTA is deeply unpopular.
The Canadian government has said it is investigating the source of the leak. The Canadian Press reported Thursday that the comment that sparked the original story may have come from Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Ian Brodie – and that his remark had implicated Clinton’s campaign, not Obama’s.
The Thursday story also said CTV’s Washington bureau had initially decided to report on Clinton. The New York senator was mentioned in the final report, but it focused on Obama’s aide.
The Canadian Press said government officials did not deny the conversation took place, but that Brodie denied discussing either candidate.
Earlier this week, the Obama campaign admitted Goolsbee and consulate officials had spoken, but not under the direction of the campaign, and said that a leaked Canadian government memo implying otherwise had mischaracterized the substance of the discussion.
On Monday, the Canadian Embassy in Washington issued a statement on the controversy that “there was no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private, including about NAFTA.”
McCain and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist campaigned together in Florida. (AP Photo)
(CNN) - John McCain praised Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in a visit to the crucial voting state Thursday, but the Arizona senator brushed aside questions he is considering the popular Republican for his presidential running mate.
McCain and Crist appeared together during a campaign stop in West Palm Beach - his first official event since clinching the nomination Tuesday. The two heaped praise on each other, but McCain wouldn't say if he is considering Crist as his number two.
"You know, obviously, we have just begun that process - and we, in fact, have not even outlined how we're going to go about this," McCain told reporters. "We're looking at how the process was conducted by other candidates and nominees of their party.”
McCain went on to call Crist, who endorsed the senator days before his critical win in Florida's January primary, a "great governor," and said "there are many ways for him to serve the country."
McCain officially clinched the Republican nomination Tuesday night with overwhelming victories in Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and Rhode Island, and quickly faced questions on who he is considering his for his running mate.
On Wednesday he said A.B. Culvahouse, a longtime Washington, D.C. lawyer, would head up his search for a number two.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton’s campaign has raised $3 million online since her string of victories Tuesday night, an aide said Thursday.
Since lending her campaign $5 million shortly before the February 5 Super Tuesday contests, Clinton’s fundraising fortunes have improved considerably, though Barack Obama’s campaign has continued to outspend her.
Donations to Clinton’s campaign climbed from $14 million in January to roughly $35 million in February. Obama’s campaign raised $36 million in January, and has not yet released its February fundraising numbers. His advisers have said only that the total is “considerably higher” than Clinton’s.
The New York senator won three out of four Democratic primaries Tuesday night, beating Obama in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. Obama claimed a victory in Vermont.
1:00 p.m. UPDATE: Clinton's campaign announced it has raised $4 million since Tuesday's contests and $6 million in the month of March.
(CNN) - A Clinton campaign spokesman Thursday compared Barack Obama’s recent criticism of the New York senator to the actions of Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr.
Since his losses on Tuesday night, Obama has stepped up his attacks on Clinton for her failure to release her most recent tax returns and other documents related to her time as first lady. Her campaign has said that she will release the tax records in advance of Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary, and that it cannot control the release of the White House schedules in question.
On a Thursday conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said that the Illinois senator was attempting to sidestep questions about his readiness to lead the country. “He chose not to address those questions, but to attack Senator Clinton. I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president," said Wolfson.
He also responded to Obama’s contention that Clinton had criticized Rick Lazio, her Republican Senate opponent in 2000, for not releasing his returns by noting that Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had been making that information public for decades.
"As somebody who led the effort to ensure that Mr. Lazio provided his tax returns, certainly at that point he had not provided 20 years of his tax returns to the people of New York," Wolfson said.
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton responded to the criticism by accusing the Clinton team of a double standard.
“…We don’t believe that expecting candidates for the presidency to disclose their tax returns somehow constitutes Ken Starr-tactics, but the kind of transparency and accountability that Americans are looking for and that’s been missing in Washington for far too long,” said Burton, in a statement to reporters.
“And if Sen. Clinton doesn’t think that the Republicans will ask these very same questions, then she’s not as ready to go toe-to-toe with John McCain as she claims.”
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
(CNN) - Many Democrats have called the prospect of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama teaming up for the general election a "dream ticket."
But conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said Wednesday a presidential ticket that included a "woman and a black" doesn't "have a prayer."
"Let's say it is Obama and Hillary...Let's put Hillary at the top - That's a position she's familiar with," Limbaugh said on his radio show Thursday. "Therefore, you've got a woman and a black for the first time ever on the Democrat ticket. Ahem. They don't have a prayer."
Donna Brazile, Al Gores former presidential campaign manager, called the comments "un-American."
"I'm an American. And I'm proud to be an American," Brazile said on CNN's The Situation Room Wednesday. "But I think that comment is, as far as I can tell, a very un-American conversation, because African-Americans and women fight for this country. We have died for this country."
“To suggest, somehow or another, that we are not capable of serving this country in the capacity of Commander-in-Chief is just, in my mind, mind-boggling," she continued. "So, with all due respect to Mr. Limbaugh, just wait. Let the people decide. And I guarantee you, the people will make a better decision than Rush Limbaugh."
Limbaugh's comments came hours after Hillary Clinton said the Democratic presidential race could result in a joint ticket.
“That may be where this is headed,” she told CBS Wednesday morning. “But of course we have to decide who is on the top of ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me."
Obama later called any speculation of teaming up with Clinton "premature."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney