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. 2012

    "Democrats' late night session falls short....."

    Not surprising......maybe a few of those little blue pills would help.

    May 31, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Jeanne Linley

    It wouldn't be fair to switch the rules now which would penalize Obama, who abided by the rules in Michigan and Florida in their primaries.

    May 31, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. Lindsay in CA

    Anything other than a 50/50 split in Michigan is completely unfair. Why bother with a democracy if you can't follow rules???

    May 31, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Ray Ito

    In a boxing fight in which one fighter is so pumelled, with swollen blood-dripping eyes, always staggering from the floor, but refuses to give up the fight, the referee has the right to step in and stop the fight or disaster will happen.

    It's understandable that the Clintons – because of their name recognition may consider it an affront to be easily defeated by a relatively newcomer to the political scene. For this reason, they will want to show that they are "tough" but it gets to a time when preserving an enduring legacy overrides all other considerations.

    They will be highly respected if it's perceived that their actions did not destroy the party but actually solidified it. This can be achieved if they gracefully exit this protracted campaign when it has become obvious that the possibility of their capturing the nomination is elusive.

    Who will not call them heroes when they channel all their resources to support the obvious nominee (Obama) who is well-positioned to capture the White House?

    By listening to their so-called "supporters" who want to fight forever, they are feasting with the devil who wants to steal their legacy away.

    Clintons, listen to your supporters who are saying: you've fought a good fight – well done. These have good intentions toward you.

    May 31, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. John

    I suggest that everyone in the DNC meeting take a few minutes and be very still as they seek inner guidance for settling the Florida, Michigan matter. Seek for what is best for all concerned and then follow through in a harmonious manner. There is a right solution for this and if they will do the right thing, it will be revealed to them. Most of all, they should put aside petty differences and seek for harmony and that which is right and good.

    May 31, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. Jason Vieyra-Preston

    You gave Obama's case a one-sentence paragraph; you also said the two rogue states "were penalized," past tense, as though they've already suffered some sort of penalty for flaunting rules they'd agreed to follow. Your bias is clear; I hope you're not too saddened when Obama comes out of this as the nominee.

    May 31, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Phillip Bunn

    Hillary Clinton just "can't" believe that she is not going to be president. I mean, after all, SHE is Bill Clinton's wife. She thinks we should just give it to her on that basis alone. And, to be beat by an African-American, well . . . . she doesn't mind patronizing minorities, but to elect an African-American to the highest office in the land when we have the opportunity to get screwed by yet another Clinton? She is a racist, who would pay Uncle Tom very well, and even refer to him "affectionately," but would always keep him subservient to "Miss Hillary."

    May 31, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. stephen oche

    Clinton shouild step down for Obama, She is only trying to destroy her party.

    May 31, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. David

    If those idiots, and I am an avid Democrat and supporter of the DNC. But if those idiots take away even 50% if the delegates, I will not support the DNC in November.

    May 31, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Doofus

    I am a Florida resident who takes voting VERY seriously .I had nothing to do with the decision to advance the date of the primary so why should I be penalized for the stupidity of others?

    May 31, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. KG

    The votes in Florida were just as fair as a Caucas , so give them as they are. obama campaigned in Florida by putting adds on TV so he acutally broke the rules anyway.VOTE HILLARY THE BETTER CHOICE!!!

    May 31, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Susan

    I don't think they should be allowed to be seated at all. They were penalized for holding early ballots. It is not fair because Barack Obama kept his name off Michigan ballots . He did everything he was suppose to do, and now we have Hillary Clinton whining like a ousted child, because she wants the votes it is the only way she thinks she will com out ahead.

    Leave it be. It is not fair.

    May 31, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. Lindsay

    This is all going to end in very bad taste and the whole process is going to make the USA look even worse than ever.

    The DNC will pander to HRC as most of those "high up" in the DNC did not expect or want Obama to be the nominee. At the time, no one was worried 'cos HRC was ahead. Now those in power in the DNC see the FL and MI case(s) as one last chance to help HRC over the top, which is what was "planned" and "expected" all along – her being the nominee that is.

    Somehow, HRC is going to be "given" the nomination in spite of being beaten and it'll all be made to look "right" and "legal" following a new interpretation of the "rules".

    Obama is the USA's best hope to move forward and from the brink of falling into a very dark period but he'll be ousted by the more "powerful" and the world will look on and groan and laugh (maybe) and loose even more respect for a once all-powerful nation.

    Oh how the mighty fall. Not just Clinton, McCain, Obama but the USA as a whole.

    Sad, but the whole world still looks on with a little hope and faith.

    May 31, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. Obamamaniac

    once again, the media FAILS to recognize the fact that hillary herself is just as much to blame for the disqualification of florida and michigan's delegates! this is due to the fact that she signed an agreement stating that they would not be counted if the states broke dnc rules. so everyone in these states who views hillary as his/her savior needs to understand that she's doing it simply to win. period.

    May 31, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Dr. Vincent Petrosino

    Would someone please tell me HOW Clinton's supporters can justify a demand to seat all delegates in Michigan and Florida when they know that Obama followed the rules and the voting was skewed? What is wrong with these people? What is wrong with Hillary? Either you agree to follow DNC rules or you donot. Don't these people see the unfairness in this? Is this how ethical we can expect a Clinton to be? It does not matter how you win but just win no matter what! The DNC should be rewarding Obama and his people for following the rules and not backing down at the last minute. This is the exact way we misdiscipline children. We say one thing, lay out the consequences and then back down when the howling gets too loud.
    What wusses the DNC has become!

    May 31, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. Patrick Coady

    Florida s/b cut to 50% and let Clinton have her delagates... Obama gets his and Edwards. The uncommitted votes in Michigan go to Obama and 50% are seated [or each = 1/2 vote]. Throw in all of the Superdelagates and their mommas and Clinton's still in Obama's rear view mirror. Let's get on with the Party. Nice try Hill.

    May 31, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. mama coo

    Speaking of the media. They do nothing to dispel the myth that somehow Senator Clinton did not follow the rules regarding the Primaries in Michigan and Florida. The rules were no campaigning. Period. Obama fans claim constantly that she has somehow done something wrong by keeping her name on the ballot in Michigan. That was not against the rules! She along with a few others did nothing. Obama, Edwards and whoever else specifically had to remove their names. She was smart, give her credit. In Florida, all were on the ballot. Why didn't they remove their names from that ballot? Obama had ads running, that was against the rules but you never hear people say anything about that. Clinton held a speech AFTER the polls closed. People who were going to vote did, note the numbers. Those didn't and probably weren't going to.

    Obama 's people claim that people had to get to know him. Believe me Clinton has had no big advantage in name recognition over Obama in Michigan, Florida or anywhere else. She continues to struggle to separate herself from being Bill Clinton's wife rather than Senator Clinton running for President on her own right. Something most Obama fan don't give her credit for.

    May 31, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. Anne

    so much hue and cry now from Clintons followers but where were they also all these months after Hilary signed to say the votes WOULD NOT count when Hilary never cared if the votes were counted. Its only once she started losing and crying and having a childish tantrum wanting them that her followers decided they also were suddenly robbed of their votes. People if you cared so much where were you months ago when the agreement was signed???? Obviously off like Hilary having selective amnesia.

    May 31, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. NickNas

    One thing is BLAREINGLY Clear about this whole thing.

    The only reason why these people are doing this is to help Hillary. ALL they want is Hillarys votes to count. NONE of Obamas and NO arguments at all about Obama Voters who did not get to vote for him. This is ALL A Hillary Clinton exercise 100%

    May 31, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. LB

    Voter supression and the supression of voter choice were consequences of the DNC rules committee decision that the primaries of Florida and Michigan would not count. So the results of these primaries were not fair and representative of the people of either state. The delegates should NOT be seated based on the 'tainted' results of the primaries. This is not fair to any of the voters in our country.
    You cannot 'count every vote' when you cannot account for votes that were supressed.
    The democratic leaders in Florida sold out their primary for the sake of getting a paper trail for future elections. That was wrong. That was a violation of the rules and it was a trade that they should be held accountable for. The paper trail was important but it should have been fought for... I am angry that the democratic leaders do not own any responsibility for what happened with Florida.
    No delegates should be seated based on the tainted primaries.
    The rules committee should stand by its initial ruling. It had too many consequences to be undone.
    Find a way to seat the delegates for the sake of party unity that IS NOT BASED ON TAINTED AND UNREPRESENTATIVE PRIMARIES.

    May 31, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. Susan

    I don't think they should be allowed to be seated at all. They were penalized for holding early ballots. It is not fair because Barack Obama kept his name off Michigan ballots . He did everything he was suppose to do, and now we have Hillary Clinton whining like a ousted child, because she wants the votes it is the only way she thinks she will come out ahead.

    Leave it be. It is not fair.

    May 31, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. Sally Rider

    What's interesing is that the Democrats do their dirty work behind closed doors, and then have a dog-and-pony show where they can feed the results to their rank and file party members.

    May 31, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. Vy, California

    STick to the Rules the RULEs are the Rules!!! Clinton agreed and so did ALL for supporters in that room!!!

    Now she cried fowl and is trying to use this to look like the defender of democracy. IF you were ahead, Clinton, you wont even remember that Florida and MI existed. Shame on you and your supporters in that room saying it should be counted as is and ZERO to Obama. You shameless lot!

    Next time, fight at the begining when they wanted you to sign and agree. Stop wasting the nations' time. You old bag

    May 31, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. What if?

    During the debate, didn't Senator Jordon, parents also tell her she is always to follow the rules?

    May 31, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. Louise from NY

    Obama played by the rules. We teach children rules are rules not made to be broken. Clinton needs to live with the decision.

    She and Her husband can no longer expect to have their way. They have not always played by the rules and got away with it. This must end now.

    Go Obama!!! Our country needs change. Now is the beginning.

    May 31, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16