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. lol

    the dnc is a joke. howard dean should step down, he created this big mess. other states voted early, and were not penalized. leave the sham of a democratic party hillary, and run independent. take your over 17 million votes with you, you will pick up independents,and some republicans. let dean and pelosi "unite" what is left of the democratic party.

    May 31, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  2. Ms. Shuler

    Please excuse the typos

    May 31, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  3. Mike

    As we can now see who the parties are that will make the decisions it is stacked so Clinton will be able to rob this election from Obama. I hope that the DNC knows that this could well be the destruction of the Democratic party. If he robbed I like other Obama supporters will vote for Nader in the general election. Hopefully we can get our message out and Clinton will finish third.

    May 31, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  4. Puerto Rico For Obama

    he's da man

    May 31, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  5. George

    Why is the media repeating the Clinton line that she won Florida and Michigan? How can anyone win a race that was not valid to begin with, and one in which your oponent didn't even appear on the ballot? Let's stop aiding and abetting by repeating the stupid lie.

    May 31, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  6. Phil

    Hillary is someone we can not trust because her word, promise means nothing...She said she agreed to not campaigning in Florida or Michigan and now she wants both of those states counted. Please.............

    May 31, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  7. John Smith,TX

    Obama should have any delegate from Michigan because he refuses any compromises to revote there. Him and his campagn cheat the process all the way. If DNC want the fight to go to the convention then give the 40% uncomitted delegates count to obama.I WILL NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA THIS FALL AND BET ON IT.

    May 31, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  8. Matt MC

    What about those people who didn't go out to vote at all because they were told it would not count? I think the DNC is frightened of a backlash in MI and FL, but it seems to me that the only really fair thing to do is to follow the rules that were originally established and seat none of the delegates...

    It was clear to me early on that Clinton would use this as a kind of last resort, why else would she keep her name on the ticket in MI?

    May 31, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  9. Terry in Fl

    He followed the rules? No, the rushed to take his name off the ballot because he knew he didn't have a shot in h e ll at winning Michigan and he wanted a "legal" manuver to keep that state from counting should this come down to what it has. I mean, it is what it is. He knows that 50% of the democrats don't want him and he is trying to "squeak" into the nomination. Which totally bewilders me because he's got to know that with 50% of democrats and 100% republicans against him, he's toast in the general election. It would be a total waste to put Obama up. he's NOT going to be president.

    May 31, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  10. Bernadine Platen

    Hillary will not give up until she has snatched the nomination away from Barack Obama, gotten the commitment of the DNC to pay all her campaign debts, including her personal ones, and destroyed the Democratic party. Does anybody really doubt this?

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

    I think the DNC should set a date in the near future for another primary to be held in these two states and let the candidates campaign for those votes, with both of there names on the ballots.
    Then let the people vote again or for the first time. This is the only fair way -do it right–the second time. Thanks again.

    May 31, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  12. Brad DeRan

    I guess it shouldn't surprise me that Hillary is calling for Obama to get no votes in Michigan just because he did what anyone should have, taken their name off the ballot in a state that wasn't going to count. And now that she is losing she wants to change the rules, AFTER SHE AGREED TO THEM. We definitely do not need that in Washington.

    Go Obama

    May 31, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  13. Carlos

    count all florida votes and delegates.and michigan count the delegates only.

    May 31, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  14. Zion

    Democrats as a whole are proving unfit to lead by even giving this argument an opportunity to unfold. That is one thing I do love about Republicans. They can loose graciously (take a note Hillary) and unite behind the front runner. I'm sure a couple of months ago, no one could have told Giulani that he would not be the winner on the Republican Ticket and that somehow McCain would prevail. Is John McCain the Republicans first choice, NO, but nevertheless they are supporting him. Hillary has attracted the radical right fringe vote (Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, etc), but is that something to brag about? John McCain's delegate issue was resolved and the Republicans moved on. Not the Democrats, we have to make sure that somehow we are not disenfranchising voters whose STATE LEADERS broke the rules.

    The bigots who voted for Hillary would not vote for her during a general election because if they have to choose between a white woman and a white man, now sexism really does come into play.

    May 31, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  15. Umpire

    It has long been conceded that the only reasonable way to settle the dispute is to admit the Florida and Michigan delegates with one-half vote each, as party rules provide. Beyond that, splitting Florida 50-50 is reasonable, as is giving Clinton 55% of the Michigan vote. Why the latter? 45% of the voters deliberately opted not to vote for her. With the withdrawal of the other candidates, that leaves Obama as the surviving benefactor of "uncommitteed" delegates. In the end, this formula will not make a significant change in the lead he holds, so the Clinton leadership will reject it and threaten to take the campaign on to the convention. That threat will prompt a sufficient number of super delegates to commit to Obama after June 3 to give him the nomination. Clinton will protest that and drag her battle to the convention, where she will not have sufficient votes to win. What will she have accomplished?

    May 31, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  16. Tom, Boston MA

    these "protests" by hillary deputies are organized, staged, and paid for by the unholy alliance of fascist neocons, zionist theocons, war-profitting corpocons, and Karl Rovian republican operatives.

    check the identities of those in the picket line.

    publicize the organizational roots of those scumbags online for all to see.

    Go to amazon dot com, type Israel lobby, and read up.

    May 31, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  17. Dally Castillo

    In such a tight race why would Hilary Clinton back out from the race?. For once I would love to hear the media ask Obama to back out and save the party. Unfortunetely, this is not about experience and the hard work Hilary has focused on to get to where she is today, this has become more about a Black man and White female wanting to win a race. We should concentrate on what is best for the country, Hilary has the experience, let's keep focused.

    May 31, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  18. ztormtra

    I frankly do not care who anyone supports. Follow the Rules.

    1 – 5 States went ahead of the rules.

    2 – The DNC – in direct violation of the Voters Rights Act – treated Michigan & Florida differently than the other states.

    *If you are running an election under ferederal guidelines & with federal money – you better follow your rules.

    3 – Out of all the states – Florida has the best defense. The Republican run Legislature moved up the Primary.

    4 – Michigan – Obama took his name off the ballot and thereby – according to DNC Rules – Gets No Delegates.

    5 – Florida – Obama ran TV ads there & according to DNC Rules 'loses all his delegats (super & pledged).

    Obama knows about these rules and never figured if would get this far.

    He has used ruled to throw people off the ballot on 2 occasions in Chicago.

    He likes to use rules & technicalities against his opponents – let him eat those rules.

    May 31, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  19. Jan

    Due to the knowledge that the Michigan and Florida votes would not count, the citizens behavior, in terms of voting or not votings, was affected. Therefore, to now consider applying the 50% rule/law, which existed before Howard Dean imposed a 100% stripping, would be to apply that rule/law on a FLAWED ELECTION!!!!!!!!


    May 31, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  20. Joe

    What is it about democracy that Clinton supporters hate so much?

    May 31, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  21. Grace Needed

    Why don't they give a "suspended" sentence, where the delegation is given some arrangement for seating AFTER the Primaries, since the primary process is where they erred? It makes no sense for the states that infringed on the system for Primaries to be given more influence over it now! They should lose their influence over the primaries but have a delegation at the convention.

    May 31, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  22. Scott, Charlotte

    The 2008 Dem campaign exposed one great thing :
    That Hillary Clinton is a liar, a cheater, and a foul politician.
    She has proven she values her own personal ambitions above party and country.
    WE WILL REMEMBER, Hillary, should you ever attempt to run for any public office in the future. WE will make sure you NEVER get elected.

    May 31, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  23. Elsie

    It is time for the super delegates to stand up for Obama and just say 'enough'!! Now the Clinton's lawyer is making the case with the other democrat cronies–just the thing 'change' will end. The Clinton's have neither pride nor shame.
    If by some chance this nomination is stolen from Obama, I hope he becomes an Independent and can be considered as a VP by McCain's camp. Now THAT is the dream ticket.
    Remember, Hitlery, by the next presidential campaign, probably half of your old lady supporters will be dead. Oops, there goes your base.

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

    It will be irresponsible to seat the vote according to january vote.
    They shouls just split the delegate in 2, half to Obama and to Clinton.

    You can make laws and break it. By allowing de delagte seated in any means, either half way, will be undemocratic.

    How can you explain that someone his name wasn't on the ballot to be allocated a delegate?
    How do you give a vote to someone that only her name was on the ballot?

    It seems like Castro of Cuba style?
    Are we making referredom on Hillary Clinton of democratic nominee?

    How can you compensate those who seat back home knowing that there vote won't count????

    May 31, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  25. Craig H

    Give Up HillDawg obviously you are not more electable if you can't even when your own party's race. Or has your plan been all along to ruin Obama's ticket the whole time so you could have another shot at getting beat and shown you are hated by half America. And what if Barack wins, are you going to claim that you should still be president ad this whole event was sexist, and ignore the fact that women have had an easier time gaining equality than black. You suck Hilldawg!!!! Bob Barr 08!!!!!

    May 31, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
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