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. Tom, Rockport ME

    If Obama doesn't agree to new primary elections or to seat the delegates from the January elections, it will in part justify a Clinton win from superdelegates. These are huge states– and they are swing states. Their votes will be crucial in November.

    Furthermore, it's not the fault of the voters in either state that party officials moved the primaries up. Bad decisions at the top should not disenfranchise ordinary citizens who exercise their democratic rights through the only process available to them.

    March 19, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Helena

    This Demo Primary is totally wrong if FL & MI are not counted. This is not democry. This appear kids' game play.

    March 19, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. ah! heck?

    silence the vote , obama-mania is a hate filled excuse of a campaign.

    he will be over for sure if he's the nominee.

    i voted for him on feb.5th but now the media has done there job and brought scrutiny, and my eyes have taken a second look at this man.

    and i want my vote back. and by god in November i will take it back if he wins the nomination.

    i apologize to America for being so naive

    fountin farm, missouri

    March 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. John

    I'm wondering why it's for Obama to consent to a plan or propose one. He's the ONLY one who has adhered to the rules agreed to by all from the beginning.

    This isn't Obama's problem. Anyone who tries to present it as being his fault is disingenuous.

    March 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. rumpusgoopus

    Suck it up Michigan. It's your own fault.

    March 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. Charlene PORTSMOUTH,VA


    March 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  7. Jamie

    Stop removing comments that are negative about Obama CNN. We are posting and copying your refusal to allow freedom of speech on here. We have not spoken hatreful things. The truth is America is not responsible for race issues. Obama and his pastor are justifying hatred and talk against America. That is why he is finished.

    March 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  8. Bond_Dallas

    How funny! Why should Obama agree to new rules of a revote? Clinton is not honoring the first rules that said "there will be no delegates awarded to the winner". Rules are rules,,, I have a 9 year old and a 14 year old, I always ask them to follow the rules. What message are you sending our children by breaking rules agreed on by both sides? To bad for Clintonians, just too bad. Better luck in 2016. Hillary will only be 70 years old. She still got a chance, McCain is 71,, think positive.

    March 19, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. roberta enschede

    Michigan knew the rules and the consequences of breaking them. The burden should not be on Barack Obama, nor should the finger pointing. Each state submits a Delegate Selection Plan for approval. Michigan went ahead with a plan that was not approved. They defiantly and with full knowledge broke the rules! We don't change rules in the middle of a ballgame! Why should this be any different.
    Perhaps, next time, Michigan will be less arrogant.

    As to Hillary Clinton, claiming a win with only her name on the ballot makes me think she is perhaps thinking this is an election in another kind of country!

    March 19, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  10. Abe

    You see he is just afraid that the tides are turning. He dosnt want a re-do because he knows he will lose badly. Is he really demonstrating the politics of tomorrow?

    March 19, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  11. bwlib

    The frustration should be with the DNC and not with Obama who played by the rules and wasn't even on the ballot. Changing the rules now because Hillary is concerned she's losing is changing the rules in the middle of the game. The DNC shouldn't have created this punishment then act as though it's any campaign's fault. Howard Dean needs to exercise some backbone. Both Hillary and Obama agreed not to campaign in that state and that should be that.Michigan has severe financial problems and need to worry about the economy. Superdelegates will decide this race so people just need to get over this and vote in the general election.

    March 19, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. dee, tx

    All the candidates and governor of each state missed the boat on FL and Mich....Now Clinton is concerned about disenfranching MI and FL. She should have brought this issue up long ago and so should the politician in these dare they try and pin this on Obama. Seat the delegates and split 50/50

    March 19, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Jamie

    The truth is not being reported properly. Why should we vote for a man whose pastor traveled to Libia with known terrorist Mammar al-Gaddafi? Who came back and continued the same hateful message against America that Louis Farrakhan who went with him preaches?
    Why should we allow this and have Obama attempt to justify it by calling a race misunderstanding! It is not a misunderstanding at all. It is our right to know and our right to decide and we do not want Obama to be President or anything else. This is his error, not ours. He is finished and should be.

    March 19, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. wood burns

    OK Hillary, It's time to put up or shut up. Did you change your position on these elections more than 1 time? Did you vote for the war before you were against it? How about your ever changing Nafta positions? etc, ad infinitum. Hillary and Hillary's shrill supporters are the worst America has to offer, because as usual, they will march in lockstep with whatever is convenient for them, not because of what is right. Grow a backbone Shills. Do anything, say anything politics has to be ended, or America will be damaged irreparably for the foreseeable future. Think outside of your own narrow self interested politics. I know Hillary won't be able to, but the American people and democratic voters must..

    March 19, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. Obama support in Iowa

    If you are going to report this story please include the details of why a re-vote would not be fair to the voters in Michigan who believed their vote would not count. This is the legislators in the state of Michigan's fault and they should be held accountable and stop placing the blame on the Obama campaign as Hillary is falsly claiming. The news media loves to stir the pot and they really step over the line at times with inflammatory stories like this one.

    March 19, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. Joyce in Florida

    Senator Obama, it appears your silence on the Michigan re-vote is a preview of things to come; you playing hide and seek now? Why don't you fess up and make the decision and allow Michigan to have their re-vote. It is only fair since you yourself took your name off the ballot. No one forced you to do that.

    Stand up and take the results like the man you say you are. If Michigan has the re-vote and the results end up like the original primary, or even if they are different, it is only fair that you allow this to transpire. Your silence speaks volumes!! I believe you are afraid that you will lose and not have the statement to make that "I am in first place". Get off your high pedestal and do the right thing. Let Michigan speak!!!

    March 19, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. Bill

    This is a confusing and somewhat misleading story. It says that one Democrat says that the Obama campaign is stopping progress on the primary, but later states that another legislator says that the legislators cannot agree as to a solution and have asked the DNC to step in. It sounds to me like the legislators have not come to an agreement. If they haven't, maybe the DNC does need to step in as suggested. This is spin.. Hillary Clinton goes to Michigan and blames the Obama campaign for not seating the delegates, because he was DNC set the rules and although they both agreed that MI and FL would not count, words matter. If the state legislators can't come to an agreement, that is not the Obama campaign's fault.

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  18. frank_steve

    There is a lot of difference between reporting that Obama's name was not in the Michigan ballot and the fact that " he got his name removed".

    For the records " HE got his name REMOVED"

    Michigan and Florida count as much as Utah and Minnesotta ( Why did I choose them – I dont know – I dont even live there).

    For everybody to know " The United States of America is made up of 5o states and a federal district " . At least it was so the last time I checked yesterday.

    Count these 2 states and lets not stain our democracy..

    About Sen. Obama.. I dont know what was the sudden revelation about the Constitution and Sin of slavery theory is about...

    During all this election campaign, I briefly swayed towards voting Sen. Omaba.

    Things are clearer now . My choice is Hillary.. and thanks God I did not already vote ..

    To me things are very clear now..

    Hillary Clinton = {experience + [economic growth – Troops from Iraq] + Healthcare reforms + [Employment opportunities – huge tax breaks for the riches] } x 2 terms. = Wonderful America we know...

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. Kevin

    I don't know why everyone is turning to blame Obama. Did he create the current mess? No. Did the voters in Michigan do anything to prevent this from happening in the first place? No. Did the governors? No. Did the DNC? No. Did Hillary? No.

    Yet all the fingers are pointing at Obama. Seems to me like there a few hundred thousand people out there (who had a lot of leverage in making this thing what it currently is) that don't want to take much responsibility. Looking for a scapegoat? YES.

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. ross

    Read Barack's memo. It doesn't make any sense to have another primary that disenfranchises the voter's in the previous primary that didn't count. How is that fair? You're not concerned about those voters, huh, Hillary?

    OBAMA 08

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  21. Ohio for Obama

    YA, JUST MAYBE, this is happening because the MICHIGAN state legislature DROPPED THE BALL!!! It is NOT Barack Obama's responsibility to clean up YOUR mess...YOU made a serious mistake in forcing the early vote and now YOU have to pay for it...the ideas you have proposed are NOT good ones and he is posing no alternatives because there is NO WAY to have a fair re-vote. THIS IS NOT HIS FAULT. DEMOCRATS IN MICHIGAN should have considered this when they decided to break the rules. AT MOST, either split the delegates evenly between both candidates (which in itself should NOT be allowed because we should not in any way, enable your disingenuous attempt at circumventing the rules) or YOU SHOULD NOT BE SEATED at the convention...


    CNN please post this

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. Carolyn

    Sen. Clinton is, once again, playing the victim and trying to portray Sen. Obama as the villan. What she, and the mainstream media , isn't mentioning that her proposed plan breaks several laws and violates other Voting Rights rules:

    ) Michigan has an open primary.
    2) The re-vote plan being proposed by the Clinton campaign would not allow participation by voters who voted in the Republican primary in January.
    3) Because everyone *knew* that the Democratic primary didn't count (HRC even said this herself back then), an unknown number of democrats and independents voted in the Republican contest.
    4) Since they had no way to know the rules might be changed in the middle of the game, these voters would now be disenfranchised.
    5) The county clerks, who are tasked with actually executing an election, have stated that there is not sufficient time to ensure anything like a proper election process in Michigan.
    6) Because of the disenfranchisement issues, legal challenges are likely to tie up the results until after the convention.
    7) The proposed funding for the election may violate federal campaign finance regulations.

    I agree that the DNC needs to step in here. Michigan voters are not getting all the facts.

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. BD

    Barack did not create this mess, so why is HRC and the MI DNC officials trying to pretend he is holding up progress in Michigan. Evidently, they are Clinton supporters. Remember, Barack abided by the initial DNC rules regarding FL and MI. As this campaign moves forward, I have become suspsicious of the motives of EVERYONE, including CNN. For over 40 years, I have always viewed CNN as a professional, non-biased broadcast, but I am beginning to see some biases surfacing in some of the reporting at CNN, too. Several months ago, I would have voted for Senator Clinton just as I did for her husband, twice. Not anymore....

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  24. David

    Good for Obama as a supporter of him his is standing by the rules,rules in which a Democrat started don't be mad at Obama be mad at the Florida and Michigan Democrats that started the whole idea years ago sorry bout them rules are not ment to be broke or changed. We as Americans our whole lives are told rules are rules if you break them you pay for your actions, so don't take it out on a man for standing up for rules and government. Is that not what we want is a politician that stands by rules and Constitutional obligations. Boo Who cry for me the only reason the 2 states are complaining is Hillary she didn't need or want your vote till she sees she can't win without it, she really is showing you respect be only needing you when it counts and people are slamming Obama for not wanting to change rules we all have to follow since our childhoods.Time to rethink Hillary's real reason for the re votes only cause she needs you and she is crying cause poor Hillary can't win without you now.Go back to Arkansas With Bill.

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. Brady

    This has become such a childish joke. Hey, break the rules and you know the consequences, unless of course a Clinton later disagrees.

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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