(CNN) - Representatives with Barack Obama's presidential campaign have reached out to Michigan and Florida Democrats to begin a "dialogue" about how to seat the delegations at the nominating convention that will be held in Denver later this summer.
“As we’ve said consistently, we think there should be a fair seating of the Michigan and Florida delegates. The Clinton campaign has stubbornly said they see no need to negotiate, but we believe that their Washington, my-way-or-the-highway approach is something voters are tired of,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
(CNN) - Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, on Thursday proposed an overhaul of America's presidential election laws, saying the current dispute over delegates in Florida and Michigan has exposed a flawed nominating system in need of reform.
In a speech on the floor of the Florida State Senate Thursday morning, Nelson said he will formally introduce legislation that will attempt to fix many of the problems exposed by this cycle's round of presidential primaries, adding the "time for reform is now.”
"This country cannot afford to wait that long, before we fix the flaws we still see in our election system," Nelson said. "The blessings of liberty cannot wait."
Specifically, Nelson said he will propose six rotating interregional primaries that "will give large and small states a fair say in the nomination process." The regional primaries would be conducted on dates ranging from March to June, Nelson also said, taking the place of the current early-voting states Iowa and New Hampshire - states which critics have long argued are not representative of the American electorate. The dates would initially be set by a lottery system for the 2012 election and would rotate positions in successive elections.
Nelson called for early voting in every state and the elimination of voting machines that do not produce a paper trail. The Florida Democrat also said all citizens should be allowed to vote absentee if they so choose, and is pushing for a federal grant incentive program to help develop voting by mail and via the Internet.
Nelson will also formally seek award the presidency based on the popular vote result, instead of via the Electoral College – a reform that will require a stand-alone bill since it would require an amendment to he Constitution.
"The goal is simple: one person, one vote," Nelson said in his speech Thursday.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A group of liberal bloggers filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, saying Sen. John McCain is breaking campaign finance law.
The McCain campaign reported spending $58 million this election cycle, which is a few million more than what is permitted for candidates who commit to public financing in the primaries.
Led by bloggers at Firedoglake and DailyKos, the group submitted a complaint to the FEC on Tuesday, and is asking for more signatures online to be added to another, larger complaint.
McCain signed up for the guaranteed public money last year, but in February, his campaign wrote a letter to the FEC announcing he would turn down government matching funds for his primary campaign.
FEC Chair David Mason replied that the four commissioners must first vote in favor of the withdrawal request - a development which is not possible right now, as vacancies leave only two commissioners in the FEC.
A McCain campaign official says the complaint is "frivolous and without merit."
Last month, the Democratic National Committee filed a similar FEC complaint against McCain, charging that he was not eligible to withdraw from the public financing system and the strict spending limits it requires.
–CNN's Eric Weisbrod and Abbi Tatton
(CNN) – Hillary Clinton’s argument that she is the Democratic contender best-equipped to win the “big states” the party needs to capture the White House took a slight hit Thursday with the release of a new survey that seems to suggest Barack Obama is better-positioned to win California – a state where she won last month’s primary contest.
A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates if the election were held today, Obama would hold a 49-40 percent advantage over McCain in a hypothetical fall matchup there. Clinton’s 43-40 percent edge over McCain falls just outside the survey’s margin of error. Fifty-seven percent of independent voters in the state have a favorable view of Obama, while just 35 percent say they like Clinton.
The survey of 2,002 California voters was conducted by telephone from March 11-18, and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.
– CNN’s Jeff Simon
Bill Clinton said Wednesday his family doesn't like to quit. (AP Photo)
(CNN) - Bill Clinton took aim at critics of his wife Hillary Clinton Wednesday, adding that “if a politician doesn't wanna get beat up, he shouldn't run for office.”
"If a politician doesn't wanna get beat up, he shouldn't run for office,” the former president said in Parkersburg, West Virginia. “If a football player doesn't want to get tackled or want the risk of an occasional clip he shouldn't put the pads on."
“Clipping” is an illegal football maneuver where an offensive player blocks a defensive player from behind, or below the waist.
Clinton added that the recent rough tone of the campaign didn’t trouble him. "I don't give a riff about all this name-calling that's going on. They've been going on ever since Iowa. I've heard them say all these things about her,” he said. “Apparently it's okay to say bad things about a girl."
He added that the advisers on both campaigns who’d been forced to resign because of controversial comments should have stayed put.
RALEIGH, North Carolina (CNN) - Hillary Clinton is taking her campaign to Tobacco Road for the first time Thursday, scheduling three campaign events in a state her staff sees as “uphill battle.”
Clinton is scheduled to make stops in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Winston-Salem, a campaign swing billed as the kick-off to a six-day “Solutions for the American Economy” tour across several states.
In Raleigh, Clinton will give an economic speech tailored to the issue of job training. She will propose a five-year, $12.5 billion program to make job re-training universally available to displaced workers, provide new Pell grants and support on-the-job training programs.
North Carolina has yet to vote –- 115 delegates are at stake on May 6 -– but it’s a state that’s already become familiar with the presidential race. Barack Obama has campaigned there several times already, as has Bill Clinton, appearing on behalf of his wife.
But North Carolina has been getting a first-hand glimpse of the race throughout this election cycle. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards made his home in Raleigh his campaign headquarters during his presidential campaign. The state is also sandwiched between two states that have already voted, Virginia and South Carolina, exposing parts of North Carolina to TV advertising and news coverage form those two contests.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Key senators are asking questions about the recent pennies-on-the-dollar sale of investment firm Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase.
JPMorgan Chase was able to buy the troubled Wall Street firm after the Federal Reserve backed it with billions in taxpayer dollars.
onomic times are tight on Main Street as well as Wall Street, and we have a responsibility to all taxpayers to review the details of this deal," Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, said in a statement announcing a request for information.
Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Clinton backers are taking aim at Pelosi for saying superdelegates should not overturn the pledged-delegate outcome. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly 20 high-profile Hillary Clinton backers strongly criticized Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday over her recent suggestion that Democratic party superdelegates should not overturn the pledged delegate outcome at the party's convention this August.
In a letter to the House Speaker dated Wednesday, the backers said that position is at odds with the party's original intent on what the role of superdelegates should be. (Read full letter [PDF])
"Superdelegates, like all delegates, have an obligation to make an informed, individual decision about whom to support and who would be the party’s strongest nominee," the backers wrote.
"Both campaigns agree that at the end of the primary contests neither will have enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination," they also said. "In that situation, super-delegates must look to not one criterion but to the full panoply of factors that will help them assess who will be the party’s strongest nominee in the general election."
In an ABC interview earlier this month, Pelosi said it was her belief whichever candidate ended the round a primaries with the pledged-delegate lead should be awarded the Democratic nomination by the superdelegates. That argument would benefit Barack Obama, whose current pledged delegate lead of 171 is virtually insurmountable given the party's proportional delegation allocations, even if Clinton were to win each of the remaining 10 primary contests.
In their letter to Pelosi, the backers urged the House speaker to "clarify your position on super-delegates and reflect in your comments a more open view to the optional independent actions of each of the delegates at the National Convention in August."
"If the votes of the superdelegates overturn what happened in the elections it would be harmful to the Democratic Party," Pelosi said.
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton called the letter "inappropriate."
“This letter is inappropriate and we hope the Clinton campaign will reject the insinuation contained in it," Burton said. "Regardless of the outcome of the nomination fight, Senator Obama will continue to urge his supporters to assist Speaker Pelosi in her efforts to maintain and build a working majority in the House of Representatives."
Meanwhile Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami told CNN's Deirdre Walsh: "As chair of the convention, [Pelosi] is neutral and her position has remained the same throughout the primary season."
The letter comes one day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed to suggest Democratic leaders were in the process of working out a deal to ensure the party's nomination fight does not go all the way to the convention.
"Things are being done," Reid told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
(Updated with Obama, Pelosi reaction)
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
Washington Post: McCain Outlines Foreign Policy
Sen. John McCain on Wednesday promised a collaborative foreign policy that would seek the input of allies abroad and would contrast sharply with the go-it-alone approach of the Bush administration.
USA Today: Obama Warns Of 'You're On Your Own' Society
Presidential candidate Barack Obama, largely ignoring his Democratic rival for now, ridiculed likely Republican nominee John McCain on Wednesday for offering "not one single idea" to help hard-pressed homeowners facing foreclosure.
WSJ: Democrats Are Tied in New Poll
The racially charged debate over Barack Obama's relationship with his longtime pastor hasn't much changed his close contest against Hillary Clinton, or hurt him against Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Phila. Democrats Might Not Endorse Clinton Or Obama
Reflecting the divisiveness nationwide in the Democratic race for president, many Philadelphia ward leaders are disinterested in formally backing either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama for fear of further splintering the city's Democratic Party.
Compiled by Jonathan Helman, CNN Washington Bureau
*Hillary Clinton is in North Carolina today. She delivers an economic policy address in Raleigh and attends town hall meetings in Fayetteville and Winston-Salem.
*John McCain holds a media availability in Denver, Colorado.
*Barack Obama gives a speech on the economy in New York, New York.