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. Donna

    It is difficult to put your trust in any politician even when they don't give you an obvious reason to distrust them. Obama tugged at the heart and soul of the American people with a hope for change...he has been exposed.

    March 19, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. Ruby marshall

    DNC should re-consider the Jan. vote, in the first place. If Sen. Obama would not consider re-vote, it means he didn'n need the votes of the two states in order to win in Nov. election. He removed his name from the ballot (does it mean that he deprived the Michigan's voters of their right to vote for him?). He is running his campaign based on his judgement: therefore his overall judgement is indemocratic, denying the right of suffrage of the two States.

    March 19, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. Confused Independent Voter

    #1 Fact

    The DNC clearly stated that these two states would be penalized if they moved up their primary dates (i.e. the results would not count).

    #2 Fact

    All 3 major candidates (BO, HC, JE) signed off on a pledge that they would not accept the results of the primary in FL or MI if the states moved up their dates.

    #3 Fact

    BO AND JE decided to take their names off the ballot in MI as they did not agree with the state moving their dates up.

    What am I missing?

    Anybody who has half a brain would see that the main reason that HC is lobbying for a re-vote in both states is that it is her only way to get back in the race. Period, end of story.

    Also, to go back and permit a "do over" would send a poor message to all of the other states tha played by the rules. No state is any more or any less important.

    March 19, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Maurice

    I think it has already been clearly said why Obama doesn't like the plan. It prevents those who voted in the republican primary from voting again. They want anyone to be able vote in a redo. It is sad that Michigan's state officials have disenfranchised their own voters and are now trying to blame the candidates for their mistakes. As reported by CNN earlier, Obama wants those who might have voted in the Republican primaries to be able to vote in the redo. I'm sure some democrats and independents crossed over because the democratic primary was not supposed to matter.

    March 19, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    I fail to understand the problem. Michigan and Florida knew that they were breaking convention and previous agreements by holding primaries early. They knew they would "lose" their delegates. The DNC informed both states what would happen prior to their primaries. Where was the concern of state leaders about "having a voice" back then?

    Face it... At this point, there is no fair way to administer the delegates from those two states. And even if there was, why should those states be rewarded with such a critical voice at such a critical time of the campaign? That's simply rewarding the arrogance and brinkmanship tactics enlisted by the leaders of those states who put their voters into this predicament in the first place. Rules are rules, and Michigan and Florida broke them.

    I don't have a favorite candidate in this fight, but I'm guessing that Hillary is shaking every tree she can in those states to achieve amnesty in the hopes of repeating her previous wins. The job of the DNC at this point is to hold its ground, and not make a bad situation worse. Howard Dean and the DNC shold think long and hard about how history will view the DNC and the fairness of this election if it gives in to the pressures of the Clinton campaign and the arrogant leaders of these states.

    March 19, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. Tom

    Not even 24 hours after he gives "the best speech since MLK", he's whining about how shaken he is because he was reminded of how hard it is to get elected because he's black? Accusing others and playing the race card to deflect tough questions he doesn't want to answer is his hallmark. So is he not backing revotes in MI and FL because they're racist? What a joke!!

    March 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. Hope

    Listen, Obama does not care about the people of the United States and their worries and troubles. Obama cares about Obama. This is not about the Democratic Party doing this or doing that, this is about Obama's agenda, win, win, win, and win for himself only. He is another Bush, dumb, arrogant, and could care less what happens Michigan, Florida or any of the rest of the voters that voted for him already who probably could kick themselves in the butt for doing so after all they've learned about him since.

    March 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  8. Buddy

    The Obama camp is more focused on rev. Wright. The truth about Tony Rezko and Nadhmi Auchi have not came out yet.

    March 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. John from Virginia

    I believe that all parties knew and understood the rules from the beginning. Those rules were violated. Enforce the rules now.
    It's a shame for the voting public, but the rules are the rules and they are there for a reason. Enforcement makes the rules credible. Without Enforcement, rules are meaningless.
    Again I say, enforce the rules as written. NO REVOTE>

    March 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Obama support in Iowa

    The frustration should not be with Obama but with Hillary Clinton for pushing for an unfair do-over that would exclude all of the democrats who voted on the Republican ticket so they could at least have a vote. They would all be excluded in a do-over. Please publish the agreement that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and John Edwards (and other candidates) signed when they agreed not to campaign in these States because their leaders broke the party rules. The candidates all agreed in writing that these votes could not be counted. If this state is allowed a do-over – why wouldn't all states jump the gun and hold their primaries any time they wanted. They can always vote again later, right?

    March 19, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. mike

    great. Seat the delegates 50-50 and call it even. This has two effects, it gets hillary closer to striking distance of the magic number while simultaneously making the math more difficult for Obama to loose pledged delegates.

    This is the most fair solution. You cannot hold a revote with all the bad Obama press thats been had as Hillary tactically huffed and puffed. Sorry Michigan, vote no next time your governor runs for re-election.

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. MPG

    You know, in all FAIRNESS – – Senators Obama, Clinton and Edwards all EMBRACED the rules set forth by the DNC, particularly as it related to the troubled states of Michigan and Florida. The Democratic leadership of these states got hoodwinked by the republican leadership who appear to have been the orchestrators or initiators behind this who early primary issue......ultimately, it was the democratic state leadership who sold out their constituents and hopefully, you democrats will remember that when its time to vote again.

    Further, all three candidates SAID they would abide by the ruling of the DNC knowing that it could cost them precious delegates in the hotly contested race. Now that at least one of your candidates is desparately in need and smells blood in the water after Obama's high tech lynching over a non-issue, suddenly the pressure is on Obama's campaign as if they're the ones holding things up. Certainly if the other democratic candidate wasn't so desperate and flip/floppy, this would not be an issue. And, what the DNC SHOULD have done is agree to seat half the delegates instead of stripping the states of all their delegates. But to somehow suggest that the problem is with Obama is irresponsible and continues to go to the heart of the cheapness, laziness and sometimes stupidity of the media and the American public who doesn't demand better.

    American politics.......our democracy at work 🙂

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |

    Bottom line there should not be a re-vote. Things should remain as is. Florida and Michigan broke the rules and now they have to sit in the penalty box.

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  14. Joe

    Words matter !

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. ChrisD

    Let's revote Michigan, Let's go Hillary.
    Obama's unelectable

    March 19, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. Gary in Toronto

    For heaven's sake it is the fault of the legislator's who broke the rules in the first place.

    When Hillary signed a commitment not to campaign in these states what exactly was she thinking? Where was her sanctimonious concern for protecting the rights of voters then?

    Why would she have one of the architects of the decision – Ickes – on her staff if she felt this was such an injustice?

    The plain truth is she thought she'd have it all sewn up by Super Tuesday and had no contingency plan for what to do if that didn't happen. Oh yeah, that's who you want running the country.

    March 19, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. Travis

    Why does this subject matter any more Hillary's schedule has proved her to be liar like her husband. She was part of a meeting to drum up support from women for NAFTA. Two attendees have made statements to reporters that she was all for NAFAT and helped push for it prior to congress approval.

    Ohio you just got punked. Thank the Clinton's for your job loss and mustard and relish sandwiches.

    Can't wait for more juicy lies and tax record season.

    March 19, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  18. PJ

    Obama becomes closer and closer to being a Republican every day. Someone needs to tell him that Democrats respect the constitutional right to have votes count, Republicans fight to keep people from voting.

    March 19, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  19. JRD

    Do we establish rules for a reason or not? The DNC made clear the rules of the primary, and the leadership in Michigan and Florida decided the rules didn't apply to them. So what are we saying - if you ignored the clearly stated rules, you should get an exception anyway? "The rules don't apply to us" - that's a fantastic message for this country's leaders to be disseminating.

    March 19, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. JB

    Maybe Obama will throw one of his razzle-dazzle speeches at the Michigan voters to explain why he doesn't want them to take part in the nominating process. They will be soooo inspired they will forget they are being robbed of their voice.

    March 19, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. Hillary Supporter

    If we do not have Florida and Michigan count in the primaries, then this is not a fair and representative choice by the people for whomever wins the nomination. I can understand Obama dragging his heals. He has nothing to lose and Clinton may have something to gain, if Michigan and Florida get ot revote. Something needs to be done asap, with or without the concent of Hillary or Obama to include Michigan and Florida. It is the voters that are the real losers if something is not done. And it should be evident to everyone, no matter who they are for, the people are sick and tired of the red tape, mismanagement and corruption of our current political system. I mean we have Bush in the White House now, because of corruption in the Florida vote then. The people are not going to take much more.

    March 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  22. Darlene Palermo

    It appear that many of the cnn host (especially Wolf and Lou) go over board and even enjoy attacking Obama. Other than Roland Martin and few other analyst, many of your quest seem to side with you in the Barack attack. For your information Wolf, most african american agree with Pastor Wright in some ways. There is a very small miniority of blacks who think as you do. So stop saying that african americans are upset because we are not and most of us understand where Pastor Wright is coming from. This is just a smoke screen, the media has been searching for something to distract this campaign. The media is trying to turn white supporters from Obama, and also discourage black voters. Just want to let you know that it's not going to work.

    March 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  23. Former Obama supporter

    Obama says that Michigan and Florida should have a vote, but what is he doing to help them? All he says is that he will listen to whatever the DNC says, well that is not enough. He is obviously against them voting. We are not dumb. Obama asked “Who do you trust?” Well, I trust Hillary, not Obama.

    March 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  24. John Ainsworth

    I am a MI voter who respects the rules as they were laid out. We all knew if we moved up our primary, the delegates would not count. Hundreds of thousands of us did not vote because we did not believe our vote would count. Some of us even crossed over to vote on the Republican side.....just, as some of them are now doing in voting for Hillary to make trouble for the DNC. According to the new plan, we could not vote in any new primary now. UNDEMOCRATIC for us....

    Senator Obama, as always, respected and followed the rules. Hillary and Bill Clinton, who now desperately need more delegates to win and are trying to do that by (again) twisting and decieving, attempting to divide and tear apart the Democratic party for their OWN benefit to get back in for their third term in the White House.

    Shameful Hillary, so very obviously twisting the rules to only serve your own needs at the expense of all of the rest of us Democrats.

    Hillary, get out of MI..... Shame on you. Shame on your lies......

    March 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  25. Delia

    Who the hell is the DNC to attempt to control and determine an Election? The RNC used Florida for Bush Jr. and now the DNC will hand over the Dem chances due to their stupidity, egos, and Dean's arrogance in dealing with this situation. Either ACCEPT the Voter's decisions in MI AND FL or let these VOTERS vote again and Dean and the DNC can eat the cost just as they eat their way through the primaries and Convention. The PEOPLE NEED TO DETERMINE THE NEXT PRESIDENT, NOT THE DNC, RNC, ELECTORAL COLLEGE, DELEGATES, SUPER-DELEGATES....WHEN WILL AMERICA WAKE UP AND TAKE OVER IT'S OWN DESTINY AS THE FOUNDING FATHERS WANTED??????????

    March 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
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