March 19th, 2008
04:55 PM ET
10 years ago

Mounting frustration with Obama in Michigan as deadline nears

Michigan’s latest primary proposal is running short on time.

Michigan’s latest primary proposal is running short on time.

(CNN) - A top Michigan Democrat reports that negotiators working to pass an 11th-hour plan for a re-vote in the state are increasingly frustrated with Barack Obama’s failure to either embrace the plan currently being considered, or propose an alternative.

Lawmakers are facing mounting pressure this evening to come up with an agreement before the legislature adjourns Thursday for a two-week recess.

“The Obama people are blocking it in the legislature,” the Democratic source tells CNN, who says that the group has repeatedly and unsuccessfully reached out to the campaign for input and cooperation.

The source says that Obama’s campaign has been asked to craft an alternative or to meet with the Clinton campaign to work out an acceptable compromise, but that those requests have been met with silence.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton disputes this account, though the campaign offers no specifics.

The Clinton campaign has been increasing its criticism of Obama for his failure to back a new primary that would meet national party requirements and allow a full Michigan delegation to be seated at the Democratic convention this summer.

Wednesday, Hillary Clinton made her first campaign appearance in Michigan this year, challenging Obama directly to back the seating of a full Michigan delegation.

Clinton won the January Michigan contest with 55 percent of the vote, but was awarded no delegates. She was the only major Democratic candidate to appear on the ballot; 40 percent of the party’s primary voters chose the “uncommitted” option instead.

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, who has been a major proponent of a new primary vote, told CNN Wednesday that his group of four unaligned Michigan politicians was hopeful that legislators would vote on the plan this evening or Thursday, which would allow the delegation to be seated “without a floor fight and without a credentials fight.”

But Michigan state Sen. Tupac Hunter, a major Obama supporter, says an “overwhelming majority” of members who support both candidates “find something or the other wrong with it and cannot support it in its current form. A new vote, he added, “does not look likely.”

“From where I sit there are no floating pieces to this,” said Hunter - nothing that can be changed that wouldn’t require a major alteration or abandonment of the current proposal. “I’m not sure how feasible it is at this point… there’s nothing I’ve seen or heard that would lead me to believe that there’s going to be an agreement.”

He called on the DNC Chairman Howard Dean to step in immediately and broker a compromise, to help avoid a “chaotic convention.”

“There’s a lot of hot rhetoric out there. Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton, they’re in the throes of a campaign, we understand that,” he said. “But the DNC needs to come in and calm the storm.”

–CNN's Jessica Yellin and Rebecca Sinderbrand

(Updated with Obama campaign reaction)

soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. BrooklynZoo

    "suppressing a quarter of the democratic party"

    really? a QUARTER of the party?

    Stop twisting the facts – the state democrats in Michigan and Florida are to blame, not Obama. They disregarded the national party rules. Just because Clinton is pandering to the rule-breakers (she needs the votes, and is showing her proclivity to win at ALL costs) doesnt mean Obama should bend over backwards to accomodate them (you want to break the rules? fine. you want to redo the elections? ok. you want US to pay? great! where do I sign up?).

    Those who are whining about disenfranchisement – primaries are mostly closed elections, which means it is NOT a right to vote in them, but an intra-party process. This is ridiculous spinning thats taking place... Michigan and Florida should be angry with their state leadership, and maybe the DNC, not Obama. He did not decide this.

    March 19, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. California Voter

    Listen folks in Michigan and Florida - Obama does not want your votes to count because he did not win. This is not first time Obama has used campaign tactics to eliminate an opponent. The new media has not done due diligence with regard to Obama. I new about TUCC months ago, but the media did not want to damage their darling. "Well, Obama has a history of ruthless and dirtly politics: From a story about how he first gained public office in the Illinois State Senate: (Chicago Tribune April 4, 2007): The day after New Year's 1996, operatives for Barack Obama filed into a barren hearing room of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. There they began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer, the longtime progressive activist from the city's South Side. And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama's four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot. His overwhelming legal onslaught signaled his impatience to gain office, even if that meant elbowing aside an elder stateswoman like Palmer. A close examination of Obama's first campaign clouds the image he has cultivated throughout his political career: The man now running for president on a message of giving a voice to the voiceless first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it. One of the candidates he eliminated, long-shot contender Gha-is Askia, now says that Obama's petition challenges belied his image as a champion of the little guy and crusader for voter rights. "He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?" Had Palmer survived the petition challenge, Obama would have faced the daunting task of taking on an incumbent senator. Palmer's elimination marked the first of several fortuitous political moments in Obama's electoral success: He won the 2004 primary and general elections for U.S. Senate after tough challengers imploded when their messy divorce files were unsealed. Hence, his rapid ascent to power…" I guess we have to do the dirty work for CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and CBS.

    March 19, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  3. Hillary Supporter

    Obama is trying to spin his lack of enthusiasm to have a re-vote in MI and FL because he knows well Hillary will walk away with both states. His ego has interfered with his problem with honesty as of late. Obama has begun to show us what a liar he is and asking for everything from Hillary he himself has not done. I take issue with being comfortable disenfranchising voters in two important states. I hope Howard Dean can pay to have re-votes. The idea to punish these states is nothing short of stupid. Let's get it done. We have 50 states not forty-eight.

    March 19, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  4. Sandy

    Let the 2 million voters voices be heard!
    Get real Obama...don't hide behind the DNC "rules". Rules can and should be amended depending on circumstances. No one expected a real tight race last year. Now that the race is so tight, its only fair that the voices of over 2 million voters account for something.
    What are you so afraid of? In a re-vote, folks could change their mind and vote for why worry!
    Do you really want a nomination that ignored the input of 2 million voters?
    Your current actions say, that you don't care about the 2 million voters, and are hiding behind the stupid 'rule' from last year. This is not good judgement....good judgement allows intelligent, smart people to adjust and bend the rules, if situation demands. This is that situation, and you need to give Florida and Michigan an opportunity to make an impact on the race. Don't think of only yourself, think of the democractic party, all the voters, and America. Your actions can make you win the nomination, but you'll definitely put-off lots of folks who will rather not vote, than vote for you!

    March 19, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  5. JOHN

    Michigan does not need a re-vote. But if that's what they decide than so be it. However, Hillary is so sure that she will win Michigan because she will play and has been playing on the same racial tension and fear that Barack Obama is attempting to address in a meaningful foward way. She is a race baiter and she BELIEVES....arrogantly, that she will win this nomination. Is she retarded?

    March 19, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  6. Mike Kalamazoo, MI

    Why are people upset with Obama? He and Clinton BOTH agreed that MI and FL broke party rules, and BOTH agreed to the same consequences – no delegates at the convention.

    Now Clinton realizes that she is going to lose the nomination, so what does she do? She says it's a travesty that all of those votes are not counted. Why was it OK to "suppress" those votes two months ago, before Obama took a commanding lead of pledged delegates???

    March 19, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. NBC

    This has nothing to do with Obama. They ( Michigan and florida) decided to for go party rules. They made their bed. Now they get to sleep in it. I can tell by some of these responses it seems that to many of you will have an argument with your wife or husband and beat the kids for it. I guess that bad behavior has carried over to your politics.

    March 19, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. OMFG

    Wow, now Obama and Hillary get to design elections? Did I wake up in Stupidistan? Sorry Hillary Supportes of Michigan, you cannot do what you are suggesting, it's called a sham election. Please go to sleep and we'll wake you up in Nov.

    March 19, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. jfc

    Um, I don't see how Obama is suppressing the Michigan vote. Last I read, a Democratic candidate for the Presidential nomination doesn't have the power to suppress the primary process in the state of Michigan, much less a candidate from outside Michigan. Only the Democrats of the state of Michigan can do that.

    Not only that, but he can't blame the states' party problems on someone else, instead of accepting blame for their own decision to try to push their primary election in front of everyone else.

    Obama is doing the right thing here. Staying out of this "resolution process" entirely, so that he can't be blamed for screwing it up or biasing it in his favor. Which is of course that Clinton will do, and then complain when she loses. It's amazing how Michigan and Florida Democrats are so eager to blame Bush for violating the law, and then go and violate their own agreed-upon election process. Now they can't even nominate someone to challenge the Republican candidate in November!

    March 19, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. Hope

    Obama is writing another speech ABOUT MICHIGAN? His speeches are not going to fix the fact that he has already lied to all the voters in previous states that never had the opportunity to hear the real Obama. Did he happen to mention TO THEM his long-term relationship with Rezko...NO! Did he deny at first, then admit the meeting with Canada....Yes! Did he sit and listen to 20 years of a racist-Anti-American-mentor-uncle.....Yes he did admit it after he had denied it............DID ALL THOSE VOTERS HE FOOLED INTO BELIEVING HIS "WORDS"..........."SPEECHES" EVER GET TO HEAR ALL THIS GARBAGE BEFORE THEY VOTED FOR HIM? NO! THE LAST TIME HE MENTIONED AN EXCUSE ABOUT COUNTING MICHIGAN IN, HIS REASON WAS NO BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T KNOW HIM WELL ENOUGH, AND EVEN FOR FLORIDA. SO WHAT LIES IS HE TELLING NOW. TRUTH IS, NOW THAT THEY REALLY KNOW HIM, THEY WOULD BE CRAZY TO VOTE FOR HIM. THAT IS WHAT HE IS AFRAID OF. HE IS A LIAR!

    March 19, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Frank

    Hey Anna,

    I'm from Missouri too. Do you honestly believe Obama can win in Missouri? Claire demonstrated what a Democrat has to do to win in Missouri; St. Louis, KC and Columbia will vote for whomever the Democratic candidate is but that is not enough to win. For a Democrat to win Missouri he or she must be able to compete in outstate rural Missouri (doesn't have to win but does have to compete), Clintion beat Obama everywhere except KC, St. Louis and Columbia. Obama would lose Missouri and would drag the rest of the ticket down to defeat.

    March 19, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. errrrr

    How can Democratic win general election without Mithigan and Florida? Obama will still lead in delegates even if he allows revotes.

    So he would ruther get the nomination and loss the general election than help democrtic win this time?

    March 19, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. Jane

    I love the way I hear over and over "They broke the rules". You know what.... I did not break the rules!! The republicans that run my state broke the rules! MY FLORIDA VOTE SHOULD COUNT!!! Really... NO ONE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE IT FROM ME!!!

    March 19, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. Black woman with a brain

    Here's another case of Obama and his camp talking the big talk but not backing it up with any action. It's easy to criticize but harder to find solutions to your problems. Can I expect more of this IF Obama becomes president?

    March 19, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  15. mary

    CNN you are terrible the way you treat Hillary. You do anything to make Obama look good. He will never get my vote.

    March 19, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  16. 24 caucasian male

    Anyone who does not like Barack Obama as a person has no soul.

    March 19, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  17. cblcar

    Easiest compromise would be to seat the Florida delegates because everyone's name was on the ballot and nobody campaigned in the state. Well, actually, some of Obama's national TV ads went into the state, but we'll let that go in the interest of harmony. Conversely, do not count Michigan's delegates because all the candidate's names were not on the ballot. Hey, it's not perfect, but it's better than anything else is coming up with and no matter what, somebody's going to be unhappy. The point being, we need to end this. Get some balls, Dean.

    March 19, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  18. christine

    i agree with anna,sw missouri

    March 19, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  19. scgal

    There is an incredible amount of mis information about the history behind the way the primaries and caucuses are scheduled. 5 years ago , the DNC commissioned a study to see if Iowa and NH which are not very diverse should continue to control the dem candidate nominating process. MI asked to be among the early vote states. After much study it was decided that 4 states would be first: Iowa, Nevada, NH and SC. All the other states agreed to this and all including the above mentioned signed an agreement. Then NH leapfrogged over Nevada and Iowa moved up its date. (the dates were to be Jan 14 to 29 for the 4 states) MI asked to vote early as well since two of the states had broken their pledge. The DNC gave a waiver and allowed NH and Iowa to move early- the RULES WERE NOT FOR THEM- so now MI and FL voters are punished. Does that mean the rules are for everyone or just some states. Additionally, MI does not allow voters to vote in both Rep and Dem primaries and they have specific rules governing first time voters as well as cross over. It is highly unlikely that Obama Dems voted Rep. and if they did, rules are rules- you can't vote in both parties.
    Why not revote if you do not want to count the votes that were cast. Sen Obama did not have to take his name off the ballot in MI. 3 candidates did and 3 did not.
    Why is Obama refusing to let people vote. I believe in a democracy not a suppression of votes.

    March 19, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  20. Now Obama says he listens to people

    Obama is the one who is blocking Michigan, Florida re-vote, I guessed it would be him. He talks about judgement, transparancy, says he listens to people.
    1. Why is he blocking re-vote does n't he want people of Michigan,FL to be heard. If he blocks voters from voting, how can we trust him he will listen to us if he is president
    2. Judgement: Everytime judgement comes he says he did not vote for war in Iraq, guess what he was not even in white house when senate voted on Iraq war otherwise he would have voted for Iraq too. Now he talks about judgement when he never had oppurtunity to vote/to cast his judgement. Oh wait what happened to his judgement when he heard anti-american controversial words from his pastor, I was outraged when I watched pastor comments, what type of judgement he had when he heard these controversial comments. I don't understand if Obama has good judgement how could he stand while pastor makes controversial statements, if he has good judgement then he would either corrected pastor or won't stand by hearing those statements
    3. Transparancy: He always say he has transparancy with voters, but he lied to voters about pastor. Weekend Obama said he never heard his pastor, but in his speech he said he has heard his pastor talked about these controversial matters. Talk about transparancy !!! haha.

    March 19, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  21. Nickay

    Ya'll Stupid who bashes Obama for not wanting a revote. The man's name wasn't even on the freakin ballot to begin with. Not only did they break the rules but they practically rigged the votes so that republicans can vote for hillary. Hillary supports are Dumb, u know why? cuz they fail to see that rebublicans know that Mccain has a better chance of going up against hillary becuz they got more crap on her to bash her with, thats why republicans are voting for her, not cuz they support her but becuz they want mccain to win presidency. American Hillary supports "USE UR HEAD" and stop trying 2 attack Obama on everything, U should be looking at the big picture.

    March 19, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  22. Susan

    Obama talks about unifying the nation but he is doing everything to divide his party. If there's an upset at the convention it is on his hands! Clinton is being robbed and the voters are the victims.

    March 19, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  23. Adam

    Own up to your words, Barack Obama! You can't unite a party when you're the only one blatantly disenfranchising voters! Once again, all talk and no delivery. I fear that will be a common motif if you ever make it into the White House.

    March 19, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  24. Robin

    Obama doesn't have an alternative. He is too busy with his own pity party.
    He took his name off the ballot. He does not want a re vote, nor does he want the votes to count as is. He is too busy trying to find dirt on Hillary so he can flip the script. He is not a leader or a uniter. He is a liar and a divider.

    March 19, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. Dave

    This is Obama. Deny votes. Obama is done.

    March 19, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
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