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. Rhonda

    There's only one way to keep this fair. The original penalty should stand . They don't count!

    May 31, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. Sara

    The Demcratic party is becoming the joke of 2008! Thanks to Mr. Dean and Ms. Clinton

    May 31, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Ben

    Hillary should conceed then all the delegates would be seated. It is Hillary that is causing the problem because she won't accept that she has lost! She is just taking advantage of Florida and Michigan and if they did have a new contest in those states the best she could get is a split.

    May 31, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. D Ianni

    I just can't believe that any of this is being tolerated at any level by the DNC. What about the thousands of people in Florida and Michigan who didnt even bother to vote because we THOUGHT it wasnt going to count. Why was the primary even held in the first place in these states? The DNC must have know it was going to end up in a battle.

    The only reason I voted in FL was because there were other issues on the table (like the homestead tax increase). Otherwise I would not have gone out that day. I suspect that the Rep Gov knew this would happen and is having a great time with this.

    The fact the Hillary Clinton is pushing this and encouraging her supporters on this is only feeding a fire that should have been put out long ago. Shame Shame on her and the people holding signs to ask to count every vote. Its like saying we dont care about the rules we just want to win. What kind of message does that send to our children. They are pawns in her aweful game.

    If her supporters dont vote for Obama and we lose this election it will be her fault and a NO WIN situation as we wont get anything done in WA for 4 more years.
    I am just so disgusted with this entire process.

    May 31, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. Tammy - KCMO

    "turned out in droves" stated by Bill Nelson in the meeting this morning.
    He must live in an alternate universe!

    More lies – From what I've read a lot of voters didn't bother because they knew it wouldn't count. The DNC obviously is run by a bunch of idiots and liars.

    I am so glad I'm an independent voter.

    May 31, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. Bill

    Who appointed Clinton's lawyer dictator ? This is the United states of America. The Clinton campaign has gone way overboard in this process. Why have an election ? People are fighting the war Hillary voted for. They deserve a candidate who tells them the truth. They do not need a dictator telling the country that Obama doesn't get any votes from a rigged election.

    May 31, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  7. Mario

    HRC AGREED to the rules that stripped MI and FL of their delegation. The ultimate Flip-flopper does not deserve to represent our party in November. Give her a bone (seating 1/2 vote delegations from the two rule-breaking states) and let's move on. Supsers should endorse who plays by the rules!!!!

    May 31, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. shay

    Can someone really tell the truth about all this? Why is there a need for this meeting to be even taking place if the rules were established years ago and all agreed to them? If HRC was in the lead this would not be happening. This shows you that it is not what you know but who you know and HRC obviously has a lot of folks who owe her.

    OBAMA 8-13

    May 31, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. James, Seattle

    I fail to see the National Parties fault in this if they are enforcing the rules so plainly broken by the states. Voters in Michigan and Florida need to really get organized to get rid of the people in the respective states who made this choice fully knowing what the outcome would be.
    I am sorry you were wronged but, it was at your local level.
    This should however be a sign that our system is broken in the primaries. We elect a President with a one day national vote, why not elect candidates the same way?

    May 31, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  10. Greg FL

    They all agreed before the primaries started as to what they would do and now Hillary wants to change the rules. It's wrong and everyone knows it but her and her supporters.

    May 31, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. greg

    Sure they have to fall short, or else they'll appear to be trying to pry this nomination away from Big O' and you and I know, it just aint happening!!!

    Leave it Hill, it's ova!

    May 31, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. Greg

    I've said it before and I will say it again. Hillary is acting selfish and is very inconsiderate of the parties and the rules. Now Obama will be chastised by Florida and Michigan voters for not agreeing to seat all the delegates and giving Hillary undeserved and essentially unopposed voted-in delegates in these 2 states. That will undoubtedly hurt the Democrats in the general election in these 2 swing states. I cannot believe Democrats are turning a blind eye to these facts. Thanks Hillary for electing McCain for the people.

    May 31, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. mark w

    why doesnt the democratic party tell it like it is when those 2 states moved up their primary they broke the rules and both candidates agreed to that Hillary thought it was a great idea when she was winning but after she blew the campaign not such a good idea now the primary in both those states doesnt mean much because hoe about the folks who didnt vote because they were told it wouldnt count my finakl thought is its time for the so called super delegates to put hillary out of her misery end this now or maybe the dems are going to blow the best chance they will ever have to win the white house

    May 31, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. Robert Edwards

    Hello Neighbours, just to let you know you look like fools to the rest of the World! Only in the USA can a nominee attempt to change the rules because she is losing. Michigan and Florida knew the consequences for having their primaries early and did it anyways.
    And as I remember, Clinton agreed the delegates wouldn't be seated when she was winning. Do you think that her sudden concern has anything to do with those much needed delegates???
    What a Gong Show you have let this turn into!!!

    May 31, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. Sir William

    Isn't this all about INTEGRITY????

    The "rules" were broken – blatantly. No two ways to put it. They, Florida and Michigan, were even pre-warned specifically what would happen if they so chose to ignore the posted rules that the party lives by. RULES ARE WHAT OUR SOCIETY MAINTAINS ORDER WITH, also called "laws," but in this case not criminal laws. Rules of civil order, that seperate our society from "anarchy."

    For once, Howard Dean has the moral "high ground" on this matter. If you can't enforce your party's own rules,,,,, then the party has no "honor" or integrity.

    Both candidates, were informed of the party's actions, and were asked to sign a pledge to honor the party's enforcement of it's own rules. BOTH CANDIDATES "SIGNED" THE PLEDGE. Now if the candiates had any sembelence of "honor," they would maintain that pledge to the bitter-end. Regardless of their own standing in the primary voting. This is the point of INTEGRITY.

    Now one of the candidates finds that she has an advantage over their opponant, and they don't take their name off of the Michigan ballot,,,,, there by leaving a named candidate on the ballot, just in case someone actually votes in Michigan, even that they, the voters, know the votes will not count..........WILL NOT COUNT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Yet they vote, and now the candidate who "broke" their pledge, want to tout that they have "WON"

    May 31, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. hab

    GOD its over OBAMA won,Im sick and tired of this. they want change these rules until this lady called billary win. Look, if obama is not gonna be the nominne i smell huge,wild bad bad riots inDenver this coming August.

    May 31, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  17. Nan

    Don't count the votes at all! Rules are rules and many times are not popular but there are no excuses for changing the rules to pacify anyone!
    Both Fl and MI knew what the rules were and decided to ignore them. Well...TS folks You disenfranchised yourselves! Like it or not!

    May 31, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. Wise White Guy

    Unfortunately there is no good solution. If they seat the delegates as voted they will be in essence setting a precident for future states to break the rules unpunished. This is not an option. The votes as they were cast are not true anyway because the candidates were not allowed to campaign. This was a huge disadvantage for the relatively unknown Obama. My big problem with this situation is that it would not be a problem if Hillary Clinton did not beat the drums and get everyone worked up about it simply because she needed the popular votes so she can make some ridiculous argument that it somehow matters. It does not matter if she wins the popular vote by a landslide because the rules go by delegates. If the system is bad then it needs to be changed for next time. Both candidates new the rules before they started and they both need to live by them. I think we all know perfectly well how much drum beating Hillary would be doing for Fla and Mich if Obama had won them instead of her. ABSOLUTELY NONE!!! She only cares now becasue she needs you or she would not have signed the agreement that the votes would not count and not to campaign. She did not know she would need to USE YOU! Wake up people and choose the honest candidate who has followed the rules and acted like a President. Thank you for reading. Obama08

    May 31, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. Realistic

    Hillary's Rovian attempt to steal the election.

    Clinton / Lewinsky '12

    May 31, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. Dave

    I am watching Florida Senator Bill Nelson's argument to seat the delegates from Florida. He makes me sick. I plan on voting against him and his biased behavior. Clinton supporters are as disillusioned as Hillary and Bill are. You folks lost, deal with it!

    May 31, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. Eric in CA

    I'm certainly not an Obama supporter, in fact I'm not even a Democrat (I'm not a Republican either), but from the sidelines the arguments by Hillary Clinton's campaign certainly seem ridiculous. Many posters on CNN seem to be saying that if the vote that took place in violation of the rules is not counted that they will vote completely against their interests in November. I really can't imagine a more ridiculous course of action.

    I also can't wrap my head around the illogic of the DNC signing up to a set of rules, all of the candidates agreeing to them, and then simply saying after the vote has been held without all of the candidates being given time to campaign there (or even have their name on the ballot) that the vote will count as it stands. Any Clinton supporter who urges that course of action is making nothing but an emotional argument.

    May 31, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Try a novel approach and follow the rules you made rather than craft some "halfsies" do-over– no delegates seated, no votes counted, millions of Americans hosed over by the "progressives".

    May 31, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. JJ in NY

    I guess queens don't have to follow the rules, even if they agreed to the rules . And since hillary sees herself as a Queen, rules don't apply to her.... only to others who aren't as royal or elite as she is .

    May 31, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. jimmy

    oh sad america!you are still a country full of racism as back at many whites wanted to prevent a black man to win the nomination or at least diminish his chances in general elction.

    May 31, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. Jerry Lee

    Only Hillary could win this way and walk away with a smug smile on her face. If she is not the most immoral, polarizing, egocentric and selfish politicain I have ever seen in my 55 years, (Bar none) I don't know who is. She makes Nixon look good.

    If anyone thinks she would go on to win the general election and govern effectively you are gender crazy.

    Watch how quickly she drops the loyalty to all the women who are working so hard for her. She'll take from you and walk away with a smile as she would do to the Democratic party.

    May 31, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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