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

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

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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. Tim

    Why doesn't someone just play the video clip from way back when, when Clinton agreed that the votes shouldn't count? Story over. She is back tracking because she is losing, and a sore loser. She is pathetic.

    She thinks she is owed the presidency. America is TIRED of the Clintons. Look forward people, not back...

    May 31, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Tyler in Raleigh, NC

    I think Billy said it best "Jesse Jackson ran a good campaign in 84 and 88". Meet his wife, the Jesse Jackson candidate of 2008. She appeals to a charged, dedicated group (women) that see this as a historic opportunity to finally be represented equally.

    While a noble sentiment, this is not about men vs women.... its about who is the best candidate and ran BY THE RULES AND WON.

    That is clearly NOT CLINTON. She needs to rule out caucuses, include Puerto Rico, include MI and FL and ignore the delegate system to even stand a chance.

    She came in with all the positives. More money, more name recognition, Bill Clinton stumping for her, polls with her in the lead.... and STILL SHE COULD NOT WIN.

    Stop trying to change the rules and accept it.

    May 31, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Mwansa

    Rules are rules, why not followed them.

    May 31, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. J Ford

    Both Obama and Clinton, knew what they were doing when they signed and voted to not count the delegates for MI and FL.. Even after agreeing not to campaign in these states, Clinton slips behind Obama's back and added her name to the ballot in MI. This created a one-sided campaign – no wonder she wants these delegates included. Do you really think, honestly, that this is fair and balanced?

    If the DNC wants to include the delegates from both states, it should be done with "open" fairness to both Democratic candidates. This is a mess that could have been avoided had the DNC not wanted to "control" when the primaries were to be held in these states. It is unfair to have only "one" name on the ballot in the State of MI, and Clinton should have been more honest and open to Obama giving him an opportunity to cast his name on the ballot, too. This is and was the beginning of Clinton's deceitfulness to win the nomination and it has been that way since the work "get-go" to get the nomination by changing the "rules" as the campaigning continues.

    The question should be – what part of "we will not campaign in the two states and we will not count the delegates because of the Republicians voting to move the date of the primaries ahead of the regularly schedule" that both the Clinton supporters and Clinton, herself, do not understand? A 10 year old child could figure out what that means, and, if that child was in a game against someone else, he/she would be "forced" to abide by the rules. If Clinton cannot understand what she voted for and why she voted, then I question her ability to be a president.

    The rules apply to both candidates, and Obama has the right to be counted in the MI primary, even though his name was not on the ballot. Little did he or the voters knew that Clinton would go around the ruling and put her name on the ballot anyway. If the Clinton supporters call this "fair" then I have to ask them what is "fair and balanced" for Obama? Truthfully!

    I admire Obama for following the rules and think his honesty and his intergity to abide by the rules deserves some merits. Clinton's lies and deceit should not be honored and if they are, there will be many voters, including myself that will denounce the Democratic party.

    May 31, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. Ralph Benno

    It is all a farce to save face for a botch job and rules . Obama has won by the rules of the DNC and not by the rules of the presidential election.

    I have never heard in my life that losers get to win delegates. That how Obama was able to pull his tricks.. tail coating Hilary in big states and win states that DNC has no chance to win in the fall.

    The general election is based on winner takes it all.state by state. If we follow this rule, Hilary is best candidate to get the nomiation.

    It is best for Hillary to run as independent candidate..She will win the election. SHe will chip away from all the beleivers ..and bring "REAL CHANGE" to the process.

    Hillary shoud not go back to the SENATE and bow to all these ungrateful, sexist friends of her.

    SHe is above all these..loser at the DNC

    IF not, MC Cain yo got my vote

    May 31, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  6. indy dem

    There's precedent for reducing the delegations by 1/2, seems pretty cut and dry. So the big problem is........ The popular vote lie: Clinton wants votes to be counted from elections that didn't. She campaigned in both states counting on Party Insiders to rewrite the rules for her in the end. We'll see if she gets her way....

    After thought:
    Nobody thought the Democratic primary system was totally flawed until the people elected some one unexpected. If anything Obama's nomination proves that the system ISN"T totally corrupt.

    May 31, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. Connie Sturgeon

    I wish America would wake . Do we want another President who does not play by the rules like the one we have now.Hillary has called for protest on the 31st , she disagrees with ever solution that has been made, all though she calls herself the candidate of solutions.Obama called for his supporters not to turn the DNC rules committee in to a circus. He has acted more like a President than both the Bush's and the both the Clinton's ever have.Hillary is like George a great divider.

    A Democrat for America Connie from Indiana

    May 31, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. roryryn

    Do all the people involved in the descision regarding Florida and Michigan understand the intent of the rules. Is there some that subjectively interperet them for their own cause. I would think that the rules would have been written to minimize conflict and subjectiveness and allow for objective descision making. Make one. Please, quit with the rule bending, that is what got the country into the current mess it is in right now.

    May 31, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. sheep

    will a CLINTON supporter who SAYS COUNT ALL THE VOTES please explain how not counting the undecided in michigan who are voters who want there votes counted????????hOW IS THIS COUNTING ALL VOTES ALL VOTES SHALL COUNT BUT NOT 1 voter who suupportes MR. OBAMA votes should count ..Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth ...The will of the people or your will???

    May 31, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. edmond

    funny..... they dont have anything else to do....
    Clinton would do anything to get that nomination... "The DNC sanctioned Michigan and Florida by excluding them from representation when the party nominates a candidate at the August convention" and hillary agreed ..... and now... because she s looooosing.... she plays is as if she really cares for the peoples' vote...... she is flipping.... as usual..... i hope that the DNC will manage to solve this problem once and for alllll..........

    May 31, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. Discouraged

    A battle over rules and votes. This is how American's change 'Business as Usual'. The old Washington grid lock has trumped the politics of hope and one America.

    Sad.

    May 31, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. E. POWELL I MD, E POWELL MD II & ER. POWELL MD

    HRC SAID THAT IT DIDN'T MATTER WHEN IT CAME TO THESE 2 STATES. NOW SHE SHE IS ACTING LIKE A KNIGHT IN SHINING GLORY. HER ACTIONS SPEAKS FOR HER - "DO ANYTHING TO WIN". WE ARE GOING TO TAKE THE HIGH ROAD AND GIVE HER CREDIT FOR BEING LIKE A LEAF IN THE WIND. NO MATTER WHAT SHE DOES AT THIS POINT SHE STILL LOSES. NOW IT IS UP TO THE PARTY TO GET TOGETHER AND WIPE OFF THE MUD FOR THE REPUBLICANS. WE KNOW NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS AT END OF THIS DNC MEETING, HRC IS GOING TO PUSH ON. THAT IS JUST THE CLINTONS MINDSET. HER "KITCHEN SINK" MENTALITY
    IS HER DOWNFALL. NOT THE PARTY, NOT HER SUPPORTERS, BUT, HER'S AND HER'S ALONE.

    May 31, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. Dave

    The fact that there has to be a committee meeting to determine how to penalize Michigan and Florida when it was very clear that they disqualified themselves from participating in any fashion in the nominating process makes me want to crossover to the dark side of the aisle (republican). Hillary Clinton and her kool aid club are behaving like spoiled children that won't take NO for an answer. I know, you clintonites won't EVER vote for Obama. Yes we know you plan on writing Hillary's name on the ballot in November. Grow up you morons. She's done!

    May 31, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. scott from ny

    GET REAL! MICH.&FLA. SHOULD BE STRIPPED OF ALL ELECTRIAL RIGHTS BECAUSE THEY CROWED UP FRONT AND GOT CAUGHT AND SENT HOME. THIS IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO BECAUSE NO ONE LIKES A CHEATER.

    May 31, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  15. Allan

    Who is going to speak up for the White Water cover up that wasn't resolved ?

    May 31, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  16. PA Woman for OBAMA

    Rules are rules. Hillary signed on to them just like everyone else in the beginning. She only cares about this now because she needs these votes to win. Do you think she'd be dangling the promise of statehood to Puerto Rico if she didn't need the votes? No. This is all political pandering at its worst. I wish all the Hillary supporters could see that! Obama has integrity! Don't punish him for following the rules of the party! It was a good fight, but let's end this now and get our party united!!!

    May 31, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  17. Fran

    I thought the rules were not to campaign in Michigan and Florida, but there was no rule stating that names needed to be off the ballot. From what I hear, the candidates were not supposed to campaign in Florida, according to the rules, but Obama aired commercials in Florida anyways. Seat the delegates based on election results, if Obama is the inevitable candidate, what's the problem with counting the delegates according to the results? We have rules at my work, but we adjust consequences on a case by case situation. Rules are rules, but they are not the be all end all.

    May 31, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. Alphonse Moneau

    Long Live Democracy, Long Live the Democratic Party

    There is no reason not to believe that the DNC Rules committee members will not do the right thing. This is an extraordinary primary for the Democrats. Democrats have two excellent candidates, but only one can be the nominee. No one who thinks objectively, at this point of time, believes that senator Clinton will be the nominee. It's over. Senator Obama is more than likely to be the nominee. The party should quickly put the primaries behind and unite behing senator Obama as the rightful presomptive nominee.
    Senator Clinton knows well that the heart of democracy is upholding the rule of law. Florida and Michigan broke the rules and were punished accordingly. It is up to the DNC to adjust the rules and the punishment if it so choose. SENATOR CLINTON AND HER SUPPORTERS SHOULD STOP MESSING WITH THE PARTY'S DECISION and should stop putting pressure on the DNC to favor senator Clinton. Senator Clinton signed the agreement, overtly said back then that she was well aware that votes in Michigan and Florida would count for nothing. How come suddenly senator Clinton wants to re-write the rules to favor herselft? The word for this is selfishness.

    May 31, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Mark

    Hillary will try to bend and twist any rule (including the Constitution) to benefit her. She ignors the fact that for each vote cast for Obama, there is a vote that is just plain anti-Hillary.

    May 31, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Joe - Wilmington, DE

    If there is an organization in existence that can completely screw up the golden opportunity that is coming this November it is the Democratic Party.

    Why have rules if no one is going to adhere to them?

    May 31, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. sam

    Just follow the rules; compromise will only result in strife!

    What is Hillary really expecting from all this? to be crowned the nominee?

    I'm sure right-thinking people are scratching their heads asking the same question and wondering if Hillary is really sane?!

    May 31, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Marc in DeKalb, IL

    The formula is simple...

    The rules were set well in advance.

    Everyone agreed on the rules (including Clinton, FL, and MI) ... even if they did not particularly LIKE the timing of the primaries, they AGREED to them.

    The consequences for violation were laid out.

    These rules were violated.

    The consequences MUST be enacted if your rules are to EVER mean anything in the future.

    ... by seating these delegates, you are DESTROYING your party's ability to maintain internal order.

    ... and so, you will be effectively destroying your party.

    Thank you Florida, Michigan, and Queen Clinton.

    May 31, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. on

    Millions voted for Hillary, and now you want to give their voices to McCain? Why? Why you need half-black half-ready president when yuo can get full-ready woman President?

    May 31, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. Bill

    CNN, and blitzer have done all they can to help clinton. Clinton's campaign has cheated it's way through, and seems to be continuing that course. The news media in our country has become mediocre at best. That is not good for America.

    May 31, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. Vik

    There's no fair way to count the votes. If they really want people's voices to be heard, they would just have another primary or caucus. Hillary's lawyer if a freaking idiot.

    May 31, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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