May 31st, 2008
07:17 AM ET
10 years ago

Democrats' late night session falls short on MI, FL delegations

Protesters voice their concerns outside the DNC headquarters on Capitol Hill in April.

Protesters voice their concerns outside the DNC headquarters on Capitol Hill in April.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bleary-eyed Democrats failed to reach consensus early Saturday morning on a plan to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations - setting up a potentially explosive hearing later in the day between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on how to address this politically sensitive situation.

Members of the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws panel convened for more than five hours behind closed doors Friday evening. The meeting ended at 1:30 a.m. ET Saturday - eight hours before the committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter.

Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton disagree over how best to address the situation of Michigan and Florida, which were penalized for holding their primaries early. The DNC sanctioned Michigan and Florida by excluding them from representation when the party nominates a candidate at the August convention.

"It was a full discussion," said Harold Ickes, a DNC Rules member from the District of Columbia who supports Clinton. "I think there was some agreement on some issues and still some disagreements on others."

The Democratic presidential hopefuls have both said they want the Florida and Michigan delegates to attend the convention, but Clinton's campaign is calling for the results of the primaries to be honored and the delegates awarded based on the results. This approach would help her chip away at Obama's lead in pledged delegates because handily won both states and would be awarded a greater share of the delegates.

Obama's campaign disagrees, saying that this is not reasonable because he followed the rules, took his name off of the Michigan ballot, and did not campaign in either state.

"Right now what we have to do is to figure our way through all of this and I believe we will," said Allan Katz, a DNC Rules member from Florida who supports Obama. "And I believe we will come up with something tomorrow. There will probably be a little sort of tussling but we are Democrats." Right now, with no Michigan or Florida delegates included, Obama leads Clinton by 202 delegates. He needs 42 more to clinch the nomination.

A potential compromise plan would be to have each state be penalized 50 percent of its delegate representation, but allow every delegate to attend the convention with a half vote.

The Rules committee will address two main issues at its hearing Saturday morning: how many delegates each state is allowed and how those delegates will be allocated between the two candidates.

"How do you recognize the people who didn't vote and how do you recognize the people that did vote and how do we at the same time maintain the integrity of the process," said Martha Fuller Clark, a DNC Rules member from New Hampshire and Obama supporter. "And there are no easy answers."

James Roosevelt, Jr., the DNC Rules committee co-chair from Massachusetts, described the meeting as "spirited because people on this committee have a strong feeling about the rules and about the importance of them." But he added, "It was not unpleasant or heated."

Roosevelt also predicted that a resolution will be reached, but said there would be dissenting votes.

"I can't predict that it will be unanimous," he said. "I do think that it will be unifying for the party."

Filed under: DNC • Florida • Michigan
soundoff (387 Responses)
  1. Sam Osborne

    If the Democratic leadership takes this nomination away from Barack Obama, they have not seen anything compared to the trashing that the party and Hillary Clinton is going to get.

    Not only would she lose the general election by a landslide, but the Democratic Party will lose it and the future and be effectively destroyed.

    Daily the public will be reminded that the Party of Lincoln does not do what the Democrats have done-it will again become the party of African Americans and the younger generation.

    May 31, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. Utah

    If you agree to the rules at the beginning of any contest, then the players are bound by those rules. Changing the rules after the fact is simply not right. The voters of Florida and Michigan could have boycotted the primary to get their representatives to correct their primary date, and not be penalized, but they didn't.

    The representatives knew their delegates would not be seated at the convention BEFORE the voting occurred, therefore, they accepted the penalty.

    How does the Democratic Party expect the world to believe in them if they can't even accept their own rules? I am an Independent, and I want change. I don't want the usual childish bickering going on between two parties, I want a unified UNITED States.

    Can we have a checkbox in November that says "None of the above"? I would have checked that in the past two elections. We have not been given an intelligent choice for the most powerful leader in the free world.

    We looked like fools to the world in 2004, we had to choose between an idiot and a fool in 2000. At this point, I would vote for McCain over Clinton, due to her ridiculous wrangling of rules she has started.

    What intelligent person would not see through her rhetoric? Change means get the Bushes and Clintons out of the White house. Neither has brought our country honor or respect in the past decades.

    Let's bring the reputation of the USA out of the mud, stop catering to big business who cheats and oppresses the third world, and make this a better planet.

    May 31, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Jim

    I'm sure Hillary will be ripped off in the end. That would be the logical step since the whole Florida and Michigan thing was started by the DNC when they could have found a solution before the primary season. There are too many involved in this who want to keep Hillary from receiving the nomination. They don't care about winning in November they care more about seeing Obama get the nomination. They also don't give a hoot about voters in Florida and Michigan! Committee rules are more important then having fair primaries, counting all the votes in all 50 states and not just 48. Worse, Americans are seeing their consitutional right to vote and to have their votes counted taken away from them by a dictatorial and non-democratic DNC.

    May 31, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Pending Voter!!!

    I want to still vote for a democrate in the fall but if Michigan and Florida votes do not count I will cross over and vote for John McCain. If this is all wrapped up and Obama's team thinks he is the nominee then what are they afraid of?

    May 31, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. jaison Biagini

    i was just watching cnn. do clinton supporters realize that florida could end up a virtual tie?

    clinton got 50%
    obama got 33%
    edwards got 14%

    if edwards delegate go to obama he would get 47%

    May 31, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. sand

    Count the votes...for this to be a fair race they need to be counted. As far as Obama not campaigning in those states that was his decision, he is so flipit about everything, I guess he didnt think the peoples votes in those states were inportant...Oh well Obama go home crying

    May 31, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Tammy - KCMO

    I have so had it with the DNC and their lack of backbone in settling this argument. If Clinton STEALS the nomination I will never vote Democratic again. Today I start looking at 3rd party candidates.

    I have never seen such a screwed up nomination process. The DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing Clinton to dictate how the primaries are run. She has made it impossible for any woman to become a presidential candidate for a long time to come after seeing how she has run her campaign.

    Obama has followed the rules set by the DNC since day 1 and today we have the people in that committee that support Clinton trying to change the rules in her favor. Democratic process my A – – ! When are you people going to remember this process is supposed to be fair? If you allow her to have her way you are going to be shooting yourselves in the foot. I think it would be safe to say that the majority of Obama supporters are fed up with what is going on and won't vote for Hillary if she CHEATS her way into getting the nomination.

    This comment made by a 50 Y/O white independent female voter who knows better than to vote to put a Clinton back in the White House.

    May 31, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. JamesAAMale

    Get ready fellow Patriotic Pro-American Democrats, if these people give this thing to the anti-americans we MUST ALL VOTE FOR MCCAIN OR WRUTE HER IN !!! This is about the future of this country, it is not about the petty personallity contest like they have in high school. This could be the difference between a safe countrey free from foreign and DOMESTIC enemies. Lets do what we know is right. We must all vote for a American in an American election.

    JOHN MCCAIN 2008 !!!
    osama bin ladin , the death of america.

    May 31, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. Joshgodwins

    Rules are rules, why should the party twist its own arm just to please Mrs Clinton who seem to bulldoze her way through everything? She has been counting her "popular votes" for months now and from her talks one can tell she is somebody who deliberately wanted votes from the two states rules or no rules! Barack obeyed the rules now he has to pay for being loyal to the party (and its rules)!... even to think about such unfairness makes me dizzy.

    I can imagine what kind of a president she can make... little difference between her and George W Bush – common denominator...ITS EITHER MY WAY OR HIT THE ROAD! but anyway its her time to hit the road back home hoping she will find willy billy there! Its been good having her reach this far we now know who she really is.

    May 31, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. A CANUCK

    Please Barack....don't agree to GIVE Hillary ANY advantage !!!!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. Victoria Van Horne

    I live in Florida, yes we had a record breaking turn out for our primary, but it was not just for Sen. Clinton.
    We were voting on an amendment to double our homestead tax exemption,
    Hilary was a second thought, her name was the only one one on the ballot.
    Knowing that our vote would not count or only count as half, I do not believe the turn out would had been that great without the amendment influence.
    For this reason I feel it only fair if delegates are to be counted they should be distributed equally
    Thank you

    May 31, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. Mark

    I'm from Michigan and I didn't vote because Obama's name wasn't on the ballot. It was like some kind of communist country with only Hillary as a choice. That wasn't a democracy and Hillary did not fairly win my state.

    Seating Michigan delegates they way they are would cheat me out of my vote. A do-over would have been good, but without that I say DON'T SEAT THE DELEGATES.

    May 31, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  13. Bruce

    Hm, hm, hm. Just a few months ago, Hillary clearly and unambiguously stated her support for the sanctioning of these states by the Democratic Party. She also signed the decision to penalize these states for moving up their primaries despite the warnings from the DNC. Now she wants us to believe she cares so much for the rights of the people of Florida and Michigan by insisting that the votes be counted as is. While I totally support that these states' delegates be seated, I also wonder at the 'turncoat' attitude of Hillary and her supporters who are displaying a desperate attitude of selfishness. This is a disturbing character flaw for someone who aspires to lead our great country at this time. The true test of a man's (and woman's) character is not in the time of 'peace' but in 'adversity'.

    Yes, let the DNC come up with a fair and balanced plan to seat these delegates but please, Hillary and her supporters (who are obviously playing to the gallery) should stop acting unreasonably.

    May 31, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  14. Lisa

    Rules are not made to be broken. Isn't that a value we are trying to teach our children. If we allow the delegates to be seated, what is that saying?

    May 31, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. GEORGE


    May 31, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. MD

    This is totally wrong. Adults, politicians, no less, are acting like children.

    MI & FL made their bed. They should sleep in it. End of the story.

    Reversing the ruling flies in the face of the other 48 states who followed the rules.

    Shame on the DNC.

    May 31, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  17. Gerry

    This just shows Hillary's leadership ability. What happens the next time it is not convenient to follow the rules? "Well last time we got away, thanks to Hillary". This is just self serving leadership by Hillary! We had 8 years of that already.

    May 31, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. Altorian Derrick

    I'm an Obama Supporter first and foremost. However, in all fairness, both names were on the Florida ballot and neither campaigned in Florida. Though it was probably won by name recognition, Clinton's arguement for Florida should stand. Which sucks! Michigan is a different story. Her "victory" and arguement is silly at best. True, neither campaigned here and voting still occured. Problem is noone elses name was on the ballot and further more, most of the people who knew that the person they wanted to vote for would not get their vote simply didn't vote. That "uncommitted" or whatever it was was only a fraction of the poeple who didn't want to vote for Clinton. The issue was people didn't want their vote to be meaningless. Then I was all for Edwards (whom I believe should have been the one facing bush in '04, not Kerry), but was under the impression our delegates would not be seated according to the rules laid before the primary season. To allow Michigan delegate to be seated according to a primary where one candidate (breaking the rules) won, and the other did not not even have his name on the ballot would be disheartening to those who truly believe in the Democratic party. Revote or don't seat them at all.


    May 31, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Ndalio

    Go on democrats unite.... third Bush term is unbearable.... we don't need another war!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. Thomas

    Whether it is in sport, school or politics, some people do not play by the rules. Hillary agreed to the rules earlier in the year and now she wants to change the goalposts.

    Unfortunately, Hillary has made a conscious decision to put herself before the party. Perhapes she should look at Mitt Romney's example and drop out for the sake of the party (the Republicans are better at uniting).

    Please Hillary, for the sake of your party, your country and the world, unite the Democratic Party!

    May 31, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  21. Dave B

    Why aren't the rules the rules. Should other states no change their rules in light of what's now happening? What about those that didn't vote in Michigan and Forida because they knew and understood their votes wouldn't matter under the rules at that time. Aren't they know not represented?

    This is like everything else in life, the rules don't get changed once the game has started!

    May 31, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. beyond belief

    What a sham and complete waste of money and time. It doesn't matter what the DNC decides today. If Hillary doesn't walk away with everything, she will fight, appeal, and drag this on to the convention. She has too much pride to concede and will do anything to win...with no shame. How come everyone is bowing to this monster?

    May 31, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  23. MaryAnn Bush

    Would you please address ALL THE RULES that were broken, not just those in Florida and Michigan. There was also a rule that anyone (Barack Obama) who shows ads in those states would be totally stripped o their delegates So what about that rule? He did run national ads that appeared in Florida.

    May 31, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  24. Brian Knoxville, TN


    You think you're fooling people into thinking that you have the political skills to win a general campaign or the qualifications to be President of the United States, but you're not.

    Even now, with what little any of us really knows about you and your short and all-too-insignificant political career, you're only fooling a little less than half the Democratic Party.

    If the Party makes you the nominee, it would be a gamble at best. (I won't even say what it would be at worst.)

    You're smart enough to know that your candidacy was way too premature and that going with you would be a gamble at best and could potentially destroy the Democratic Party as a result of you losing in November. But, then again, you've never let anything else come before you and your own advancement (see your unethical behavior in using the rules to cut your Democratic competitors out of the race for state Senate in the 1996). So I guess you can care less about the Party or the country.

    Well, the rest of us–those who see you for what you are, and those of us who have yet to get over their crush on you and see you for what you are–DO CARE.

    And you should be ashamed of yourself.


    May 31, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  25. Bryan in Michigan

    PLEASE DON'T LET HILLARY ***STEAL*** OUR STATE'S DELEGATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Everyone was intending to play by the rules set forth by the DNC, it was HRC that is now playing dirty. can anyone ever trust her in any decision???

    May 31, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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