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. Jeff

    Senator Clinton's argument that in order to uphold democracy is disingenuous. Democracy isn't simply about counting all the votes. Democracy comes with rules, those rules must be followed. The Democratic party in Florida and Michigan did not follow those rules. They are now suffering the consequences of their actions.

    The only discussion that should be taking place is what is the price they should pay for their actions. Even though all the Presidential candidates agreed to strip all the delegates from both states last year, I believe that penalty is too harsh. Halving the number of delegates is the right thing to do.

    Once that is done, the delegates should be free to commit to either candidate since neither state's election represents the likely vote.

    If Michigan and Florida are allowed to escape any penalty for their actions, the party cannot enforce any rules in the future.

    May 31, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  2. RangeRover

    Since when did playing by the rules count for anything with the Clintons?

    May 31, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  3. Awful

    Right now, 30% of Americans support Obama, 25% support Clinton and the other 45% support McCain and others....

    25% of Americans think 9/11 was a conspiracy by the bush admin...

    I would bet anything over 90% of those people support Obama, there is no helping these people.

    that means about 5 to 10% of Obama supports might be rational people that need to see the emptiness, lack of experience and division of Obama..........

    Clinton or McCain

    May 31, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  4. Being Independent is the best course

    The gaal according to Clinton supporters is to count all votes. In Michigan, Obama's name was not on the ballot. His name was on the ballot in Florida. The Florida primary results should be counted. The fair thing to do in Michigan is to count the result, but all of the votes cast against Clinton, the uncommitted votes, should be awarded to Obama. Otherwise, ,you should count Florida and not Michigan.

    Furthermore, the entire delegation should be seated but each delegate should be counted as a 1/2 delegate. Rules are rules and Florida and Michigan broke the rules. I agree with the way the Republicans penalized both delegations. Michigan and Florida should not be rewarded with full voting power. A penalty of half their normal votes should be their punished. This would discourage states in the future from breaking party rules.

    May 31, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  5. tammy


    May 31, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  6. Sam Acker From Charlotte NC

    The DNC should abide by its RULES!!!!!!
    And not by changing them when one of the candidate is losing!!!!
    It makes everything so confusing!
    If it was for OBAMA, would they have gone through all this?
    The Rules are the Rules!!!
    They can count half of the delegates, that's all!!!

    May 31, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  7. s.boatman warrensburg mo.

    As Long As They Dont Give Her Everything And Give Him Nothing Their Decision Can Be Somewhat Fair. You Cant Break The Rules And Expect Not To Be Penalized!

    May 31, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  8. Sylvia Johnsen

    Clinton ran a fundamentally clean campaign, if anything I'd say it was a little boring and old-fashioned. Clinton ran on the issues, and not until Texas did she go negative with the 3 A.M.-ad and even then on her issue of experience. It worked, more so I think because people wants her to fight back.

    Obama's negative from day one, trashing Clinton's approval numbers, naming her everything from untrustworthy to hints she was dellusional, evil, killer and you name it. How successful is a campaign going so negative the opponents refuses to quit?

    The more we learn of Obama, the more we dislike him. There is nothing left of the Obama matra of change, bridging the divide and hope. Divisive, Obama breaks the mole on devise.

    Obama is a bully, so why should superdelegates reward such behavior and gamble the election when they have a fantastic change-candidate in Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    May 31, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  9. Key West Sun

    Let's just seat the delegates and get on with this, we are going to need both states in the fall. Seat them like they voted, it is not going to make any difference to the outcome of the nomination. This half delegate idea is crazy, we don’t need half of their support in the fall we need them all. The party screwed it up, now lets make it right. Party of the people, all the people, not just the ones that agree with your candidate.

    May 31, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  10. Sylvia Johnsen

    First order of business, let Pelosi and Reid agree who should forgo their vote as they broke the rules when they moved up the convention by word of mount to June. Let's see how they like that?

    May 31, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  11. Marv Henderson

    Follow the rules. There is no reason to have rules if you are not going to follow them. Clinton is behind and the only reason she is concerned , is because this is her last shot at the nomination. I truly don't believe she really cares about the disinfranchisement of the the votes from either MI, or Fl. Lets get this over with as soon as possible so that we can concentrate on the general election.

    May 31, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  12. Willy

    This is going to be good. After all the whining the democrats did in 2000 about counting all votes they are going to show their true colors and disenfranchise voters again and like they do every election but this time they can’t use the old play book blame it on a "Vast right-wing conspiracy". Go ahead make my day!

    May 31, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  13. James

    Clinton won't be happy until she destroys all hope for a Democrat in the White House.

    May 31, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  14. Milton Mc' togo

    Those who supports the idea that Sen. Obama should not be awarded any delegate from Michigan seem not to belong to either Democratic party or Indipendents, not even Republican. I wonder weather they are from this planet or if they think right thinking people can share their ideas

    May 31, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  15. JIM WHITTAKER, Hemet, CA

    Bill and Hillary Clinton and their leg-breakers have set a trap
    for the Rules and Bylaws Committee.

    If the Clintons DO NOT get what they want, then they will be
    able to APPEAL everything to the next level upwards, thereby
    simply kicking the can down the road and keeping her failed
    campaign alive for a couple more months.

    Believe it, that's EXACTLY what they're planning on doing!

    Our long national nightmare is NOT over, folks! Sorry...

    May 31, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  16. white middle aged woman FOR OBAMA

    Thanks Hillary for the trouble your causing. Obviously you're not concerned with the Dems. taking back the whitehouse, you're only concerned if YOU can get in. You can't see that you are not wanted, if you were, we wouldn't be going through all of this, you would have won the votes already needed, but you didn't . And still you and that idiot husband of yours want it soooo bad you're willing to divide the party. What scum !!

    May 31, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  17. Saif (Minnesota)

    Shouldn't it be simple. Player A and Player B agreed to play a game called Game C with the rules of the game described to both A and B. Changing the rules in the middle of the game would be not only UNFAIR but HIGHLY UNETHICAL, dont you think so?

    May 31, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  18. Sharon

    Be realistic.. you tolerate, benefit for 20 years of hatred, you cannot be elected as a president.
    Superdelegates, do not make a wrong decision just for your own sake so that you can get black votes..

    May 31, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  19. EBC

    Sen. Clinton has got to be fooling herself if she thinks she's going to get the full count in FL/MI. Are you serious? I mean here's a woman who signed an agreement stating these states would be penalized if they violated the rules and that their votes would NOT count!!

    NOW all of sudden she's reeking chaos over something she agreed to early on! It just proves how much of a hypocrite she truly is.

    I mean the Clintons have behaved since day one like the RULES of the land do NOT apply to them, they carry on like they are above the law and rules set forth by the DNC Party. I find that very insulting and very disgraceful coming from a NY Senator who should NOT better and be HELD accountable for her destruction.

    I mean how much more "pacifying" do we give this silly woman? I mean it's getting to the point Americans are getting sick and tired of the spin, spin, spin. Everyday it's another lame argument from either Bill or Hillary that just doesn't make any sense at all.

    Let's END this foolishness and get on to the REAL issues facing the Democratic Party come November!

    We've wasted enough time on cry-baby Clinton as it is. Let her cry her way back to New York, because we've had enough of the Clinton Soap Opera.

    May 31, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  20. deborah jean P, washington DC

    with the argument fowarded by her representatives,

    hillary clinton simply proves the public perception that she will bend and twist any and every facts in order to win.

    the whole campaign is beyond disgusting.

    as a group, they should be kicked out of the democratic party, as they will fit better in the republican party.

    May 31, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  21. Mike Perry

    I am really in the dark how people can stand behind Clinton when it seems obvious she will pull out ANY stop in her arsenal to get the nomination.

    It no longer about fairness. Or due process. All of the Democrats agreed not to campaign in Florida and Michigan...and there was NO problem as long as Hillary "Entitlement" Clinton was in the lead....

    But now that the people have spoken and Barack has the inside track to the nomination....everybody wants to seat the delegates.

    I lose faith in the political process more and more...this was supposed to be a landmark decision...and if Hillary was ahead fair and square...she would have my vote and support hands down.

    But she's dirty.

    You guys can't be that blind.

    May 31, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  22. Dia Akin

    They shouldn't be counted if you ask me. Again, they KNEW the consequences of moving and did ANYWAY even after they were told they'd be stripped. Yet the STILL did what they wanted to do. You can't reward people for breaking the rules. What kind of message would that send to the other 48 states that FOLLOWED the rules?

    If they DO seat them, seat them at 50% and give them out proportionately or give them a 50/50 split between both candidates.

    I honestly don't feel they should count though. Barack and every other democratic candidate EXCEPT for Clinton followed the rules and didn't campaign AND removed their name from the ballot. That was part of the agreement. Now they're looking to get penalized for it. Wow....

    Sadly, there are MILLIONS who believe this is fair. Are these the type of morals that we're raising our children with? If so, we'll have FAR more to worry about than foreign terrorists in the long run

    May 31, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  23. Ms. Shuler

    I think they should set a date in the near future for another primary for these to states and let the candidates go campaigning for those for and let them vote again or for the first time-vote. This is the only fair way – do it right--- the second time. Thanks.

    May 31, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  24. RufusVonDufus

    IT IS TIME for the DNC to tell Hillary Clinton she has lost and to go away. If they allow the Clinton campaign to enjoy changing the rules in the middle of the game the Democratic Party will be history in my mind. Rules are rules. Rules are not just for the little guy no matter what her Hindendness wants to say. Hillary as anything ='s my vote for McCain.

    May 31, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  25. s.boatman warrensburg mo.

    Obama Is Going To Be The Next President Of The United States! Americans Have Voted And They Want Change! Change They Can Believe In! Out With The Old And In With The New!

    May 31, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
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