WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws
Committee on Saturday voted to seat all Michigan delegates to its convention, giving each a half-vote and dividing them to give Hillary Clinton a slight edge over Barack Obama.
The 19-8 vote gives 69 pledged delegates to Clinton and 59 to frontrunner Obama - each with half a vote because Michigan was penalized, like Florida, for moving its primary ahead in the campaign season.
Clinton adviser and RBC member Harold Ickes said, "Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the Credentials Committee."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Rules and Bylaws Committee narrowly voted Saturday against a motion by panel member Alice Huffman to fully seat Florida's delegation, sparking chaos in the ballroom where the panel was meeting, before voting almost unanimously to seat the full delegation but halve its voting strength.
The crowd grew increasingly vocal during the vote over Huffman's motion, as many in the audience began shouting at the members of the committee, hissing and chanting "Denver! Denver!" the site of the Democratic National Convention this summer.
RAPID CITY, South Dakota (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama accused Republican John McCain Saturday of not owning up to what Obama calls his "mistake" - saying that the U.S. has drawn troops down to pre-surge levels in Iraq.
"We all misspeak sometimes," the Illinois senator told a crowd in Rapid City, South Dakota. "I've done it myself. So on such a basic, factual error, you'd think that John McCain would just say 'Oh, I misspoke, I made a mistake' and then move on. But he couldn't do that. Instead, he dug in."
Obama connected McCain's Iraq comments to President Bush's unwillingness to admit fault "when he was presented with facts that went against his views" on the war.
"Just like George Bush, John McCain is refusing to admit that he's made a mistake," the White House hopeful continued. "And that's exactly the kind of leadership that has got us fighting for five years in a war that should've never been authorized."
(CNN) - Barack Obama resigned Saturday from his Chicago church - where controversial sermons by his former pastor and other ministers had created repeated political headaches for the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination - his campaign confirmed.
The resignation comes days after the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a visiting Catholic priest, mocked Obama's Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, for crying in New Hampshire during the runup to the primary there.
Previously, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright - former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ and Obama's minister for about 20 years - drew unwanted attention for the campaign when videos of several of his fiery sermons surfaced.
In them, Wright suggested the U.S. government may be responsible for the spread of AIDS in the black community and equated some American wartime activities to terrorism.
Obama has said he was not present for the controversial sermons by Wright or Pfleger and had condemned both - most recently saying he was "deeply disappointed" by Pfleger's "divisive, backward-looking rhetoric."
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Rolling through GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton's marathon caravan through the communities surrounding San Juan rolls on.
For the last several hours, the candidate has stood atop a souped-up white truck with her campaign logo splashed on the side. She's endured drizzle (umbrella immediately appeared) and sun (visor put on).
She's blown air-kisses to the crowd, waved at women in rollers who have come running, screaming, from beauty parlors, and stood quietly looking out over the landscape.
The mess of reporters following her has had the chance to survey every change in her facial expression as they hang off a covered truck mere feet from the presidential candidate.
The never-ending, ear-splitting soundtrack for this Puerto Rican campaign tradition is a mix of Ricky Martin and a salsa campaign jingle that includes an announcer screaming, "Who is here? Hillary Clinton, the next president of the United States!"
At various intersections, drivers of trucks and cars lay on their horns, trying to compete with the decibel level of the roughly 15-foot speaker leading Clintons ever-growing caravan.
As for news? It's slim pickings. One intrepid pool reporter attempted a question about the DNC meeting that could decide the status of disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan as the candidate briefly ducked into a restaurant but came up empty.
The caravan - over 15 cars long - rolls on.
CAGUAS, Puerto Rico (CNN) - Hillary Clinton’s campaign embarked on a jam-packed day of Puerto Rico campaigning Saturday in an effort to get out tomorrow’s primary vote as a Democratic National Committee panel convened in Washington to essentially decide how the Democratic primary process will end.
A Clinton aide said she will likely receive updates from staff at the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting.
Clinton made no mention of the fight to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations during her first stop at a hospital where she talked about her plan to bring equitable and universal health care to Puerto Rico.
Several supporters addressed her as “President Clinton,” prompting cheers from the crowd.
Puerto Rico is not only important to Clinton’s presidential aspirations but also as a senator from New York who represents approximately 1 million Puerto Ricans.
“Campaigning in Puerto Rico is like one long Puerto Rican Day parade,” she said referencing a yearly event in New York City.
Clinton will spend the day “caravanning,” a Puerto Rican political tradition in which the candidate rides through various communities meeting and greeting voters and produces a wild and carnival-like atmosphere.
(CNN) - Barack Obama will close out the primary season on Tuesday with a campaign event at the site of the Republican convention.
His campaign announced on Saturday that the Illinois senator will team up with his wife Michelle at a rally at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the same arena which will house the 2008 Republican National Convention in September.
Obama's rally will take place as Montana and South Dakota close out the Democratic primary season on Tuesday. Thirty-one delegates are at stake in those two states.
Minnesota is considered a battleground - or swing - state that both parties will fight for in the general election.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just outside the ballroom where the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee is deciding how to handle the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations, the Clinton campaign said Saturday it was unwilling to concede the "concession" offered by the Obama team during morning remarks.
Florida Rep. Robert Wexler, a supporter of Barack Obama, told the panel Saturday morning the Illinois senator's campaign was willing to make a "concession" by agreeing to the plan presented by Jon Ausman that would cut the state's delegate voting strength by half.
Outside the room where the RBC gathering is already running nearly four hours behind schedule, senior advisers for Hillary Clinton said the Obama campaign wasn't making a concession to the New York senator, but to reality.
Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones crashed a press conference with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, Wexler and Ausman meant to showcase the relative agreement among the Floridians pleading the state's case before the committee Saturday.
"We don't expect that the Obama campaign will be so 'generous' as to 'give' us the 19 delegates," she said. "It is in fact more generous and more appropriate to count all the votes as they were cast."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Representatives for the Clinton and Obama campaigns squared off over the Michigan delegate dilemma Saturday in front of an increasingly rowdy crowd on hand for the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting.
David Bonior laid out the Obama campaign's view: Michigan delegates should be counted - but only in a way that doesn't count. The Illinois senator's campaign has called for delegates to be divided evenly with half going to him and half to Hillary Clinton, who won the unsanctioned January 15 contest.
"Due to all these circumstances, the unfortunate reality is that this primary that happened on January 15 was not anything that came close to a normal primary election, and cannot allocate delegates in a normal fashion as a result," the former Michigan congressman said.
"This does not mean that Michigan should be not represented at the national convention - it does mean that the delegates should be split evenly between the two remaining candidates, out of simple fairness," said Bonior, who pointed to Clinton's statement in a fall 2007 interview that the vote in Michigan would not count.
Both candidates might be nearly in agreement on a Florida compromise but remain far apart on the Michigan contest. Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard presented the Clinton campaign's view: the RBC may have treated the Michigan primary as if it would not count but nobody else had, including the media and the state's voters.
Delegates, Blanchard said, should be divided based on the result of that vote.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Michigan Senator Carl Levin used his time in front of the Rules and Bylaws Committee to attack New Hampshire's "privileged position" as the traditional first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
He also attacked the committee for ultimately granting New Hampshire a waiver that allowed it to maintain that status, despite a party plan designed to address complaints from other areas of the country.
Levin argued that Michigan had accepted the ruling that it would not be one of the four states allowed to hold its primary in January - objecting only when New Hampshire, which was not included in that group, was granted a waiver.
"[The committee] put us in the position of taking on the perpetual privilege [that] no state should have," Levin said.
"...We decided, we're not going to sit by and do nothing for another decade or two."
Levin is a longtime critic of the special status granted New Hampshire and Iowa, whose caucuses are the first presidential preference votes in the nation.