April 2nd, 2008
12:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Dean meets with Florida Democrats

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

(CNN) — Florida’s Democratic leadership and national party chairman Howard Dean presented a united front today as they met to resolve their dispute over the seating of that state’s delegation at the presidential nominating convention in Denver.

"It is my commitment, working with the Florida delegation and the campaigns to find a fair solution so that Florida will be seated - and we are confident enough that we have reserved hotel rooms for the delegates from Florida in Denver," said Dean.

"There will be no empty chairs on the convention floor in Denver," added Rep. Alcee Hastings.

The session, held Democratic National Committee headquarters, included Dean, congressional Democrats and state party chair Karen Thurman. Shortly afterwards, the group issued a joint statement. After a joint meeting today among Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen L. Thurman and Florida’s Democratic Congressional Delegation, the participants issued this joint statement.

“....We all agree that whatever the solution, it must have the support of both campaigns. While there may be differences of opinion in how we get there, we are all committed to ensuring that Florida’s delegation is seated in Denver. We’re committed to working with both campaigns to reach a solution as soon as realistically possible," said the statement.

"...We will continue to work towards a solution to ensure delegates are seated and logistics are in place for a Florida delegation in Denver.”

The Clinton campaign praised the meeting. "We have long maintained that pretending the voters of Florida and Michigan don’t exist is not fair in principle and unwise in practice," said spokesman Phil Singer. "Chairman Dean is clearly committed to seating the Florida delegation and we urge Senator Obama to join us in calling on the rules and bylaws committee to make this a reality."

The national party stripped Florida of its delegates last year, along with Michigan, when both states scheduled their primaries in January, in violation of DNC instructions. None of the major candidates campaigned there ahead of those votes.

The major presidential candidates all agreed not to campaign in the state in advance of the January 29 contest. More than 1.75 million voters – a state record – weighed in, and Hillary Clinton won a majority of the vote, but no delegates were awarded.

Florida’s Democrats had been weighing several options for a re-vote, including a possible mail-in primary, ahead of the DNC’s June 10 deadline – but two weeks ago, the state party announced that it would not hold a second primary, regardless of whether the cost was covered by outside contributors.

At the time, Wasserman Schultz, who had been staunchly opposed to a re-vote, told CNN then that “now it’s time for all the people involved in ensuring Florida’s delegation is seated to come together and make sure that happens.”

She also expressed a willingness to consider a proposal that would allow the full delegation to weigh in at the convention, but for each delegate to get just half a vote.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama, rejected that proposal, which seemed to gain traction as prospects for a new contest grew more remote.

He told CNN’s Gloria Borger that the Illinois senator would like to “give Florida the opportunity to vote” – but not in a way that would change the overall outcome.

The Clinton campaign – which won in both Florida and Michigan, which faced the same penalty – has pushed for both states’ delegations to be seated, with spokesmen accusing the Obama team of looking to “disenfranchise” voters.

- CNN Associate Producer Rebecca Sinderbrand

(updated following DNC press conference)

Filed under: Florida
soundoff (217 Responses)
  1. Oma

    Will Florida ever get this voting thing right? How many times do they get to mess up the outcome down there?

    April 2, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. Debbie, NJ

    Now let's see if Hillary blames this on Obama.

    April 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. linus

    How about seating them as "uncommitted" delegates?

    April 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Kris In Atlanta

    Sometimes it seems the DNC is completely out of touch with the average voter. Who put Howard Dean in charge anyway? If anyone is to blame for this mess, he is. And he should lose his position over it. How could he have not seen the danger coming in all this? Now we have a situation where a pivotal state's voters are once again facing the prospect of being disregarded. If a resolution cannot be reached, its only appropriate for Dean to resign.

    April 2, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Michael Guinn- Ventura, CA

    Hopefully a reasonable solution will be made that allows their seating but with PENALTIES as all Presidential conteders agreed. ALL Presidential contenders.

    April 2, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. Haley

    I hope the Florida delegates get counted and the states votes get counted. It is not right to leave those two states out when they could be very crucial in November.

    Go Hillary and Howard!

    April 2, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Vivian

    Why are politicians always wanting to change the rules?? And they probably will, once again. I have a hard time believing that either of them pondered the chaos that this could cause....They BOTH agreed that the delegates would not be counted...it should be a done deal.

    April 2, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. rj

    How can it ever be fair? They should have followed the rules in the first place. Hillary should stop blaming the Obama campaign and start looking at the Florida and Michigan's state leadership for that bad decision.

    April 2, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. Lauren

    Dean stick to the rules. They are made for all not just a special few.

    April 2, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Chris

    Florida and Michigan should not be allowed to come in at this late date and change the dynamics of the process. They chose to buck the system, they knew their delegates would not be counted. What is to stop other states from doing the same if they know nothing would happen in the end. That being said I do think a solution has to neogotiated which would not change the race.

    April 2, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Robert J. and Marian Turner

    The spokesmen for Obama team looks to "disenfranchise" voters? Is that true? Where is the proof? What does Obama say ? It is important to hear from him directly?

    April 2, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. Golden Chica

    Mr. Dean do your job and count the votes in Florida and Michigan. That's what democracy is about.

    April 2, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Floridian

    My vote didn't count – it isn't Obama's or Hillary's or the DNC's fault, it is Florida's fault. We elected the dems and republicans that agreed to this fiasco of moving the primary up, so if anyone else is upset about their vote not counting, we should be voting out the people who are really responsible for the mess.

    April 2, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Vote for Hillary

    Hillary thinks she is above the law, she feels entitled to the presidency of this country and in her mind, which she has lost, she believes the people's voices do not count and she has said it many times, "this is personal."

    she is totally divisive and I would not vote for such negative person, we need a leader not a joker for a president.

    April 2, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Legare

    I just hope they figure out something that is fair to both candidates and it is stupid to suggest that Obama wants to disenfranchise any voters. The scare tactics being used are quite risky and it has no place in this nomination race, leave that to the republicans. I respect Hillary but I wish she would stick to the issues and keep the tone above the negative. Go Dems

    April 2, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. Teresa

    Dean, stand up to what's right. Don't let them bully you into changing the rules.

    April 2, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Kevin

    Why don't they meet with Obama? According to Billary supporters, Obama's the one responsible for this whole mess. Shouldn't they be meeting with him, seeing as how Obama is in charge of how the DNC operates?

    April 2, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Disgusted at Ignorance

    "The Clinton campaign – which won in both Florida and Michigan, which faced the same penalty – has pushed for both states’ delegations to be seated, with spokesmen accusing the Obama team of looking to “disenfranchise” voters."

    The key words here are "disenfranchise" and "Clinton". Other rules don't apply when you bring these two concepts together.

    April 2, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Legare

    I agree with you all I wish they would stick to the rules but if they feel that they have to seat them, do it in a fair way that does not allow any candidate an advantage.

    April 2, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Victor

    This race would be very different had both states followed the rule. My problem is Hillary claiming victory in states none of the front runners step foot in.

    April 2, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Anne

    You people don't seem to understand. It wasn't the citizens of Florida that went against the rules, it was the state government. Why punish the people for rules that a few idiots broke? That's not fair. Let them vote.
    What is Obama afraid of?

    April 2, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Emma

    Still wondering how long my comment will await moderation, forever? I hope not.

    April 2, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Nas

    It's almost like agreeing that no two piont conversations can be used in the game. Then at halt time you are losing and want the remainder of the game to have the two pont conversions. You can't change the rules half way through because you don't like where you are. They agreed and both states knew what would happen. This is real life-you break the rules then a punishment follows. ie-no delegates and your votes don't count. Deal with it!

    April 2, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |

    I agree. Rules were agreed upon and made. The voters need to look towards their state leaders when pointing fingers. FL has had a long record of election problems.

    April 2, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. Brian - Trinidad

    The rule was flawed to begin with.If you're going to throw the "rules are rules' bit at Florida and Michigan,you should also have the guts to tell them that you don't want their votes now or in November. Clinton has their votes,Obama didn't think he needed their votes,hence his noble 'abiding by the rules' position.But if he doesn't win Florida and Michigan,he can't be President.So he gets Dean to offer some kind of cock-eyed compromise.Not going to work in November,I bet.

    April 2, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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