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. Amazed

    The set to and agreed upon rules are the rules.

    What about that does Hillary now not understand?

    May 31, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  2. shaun

    oh s**t....

    obama 08

    May 31, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  3. Elisabeth

    Demographically Florida as well as Michigan are "Clinton"-states. When it was decided that the votes from those two states would not be counted she started to lose her "momentum" in favor of Obama. This is unworthy a fair election in a democratical party – don´t you agree? Rigid and meaningless rules and technicalities should not be allowed to settle the nomination.

    May 31, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  4. nannie bouroughs, Kenosha, WI

    Senator Obama did NOT follow the RULES: He saturated FL with National TV Ads directed at the state of FL; that means he campaigned in FL, AGAINST the DNC RULES. The PENALTY for doing so is you do NOT get any delegates at ALL from that state.

    In MI, he actually had to use campaign money to take his name OFF of the BALLOT. This was NOT required by the DNC! Now he wants to claim ALL "Uncommitted" votes in MI as HIS! As long as Senator Obama’s name is not SENATOR UNCOMMITTED, I do not think he should be rewarded with those votes.

    The audacity of ARROGANCE: I'm BLACK and I must have this, and if I don't get it you are all racists...

    Unfortunately for America, that seems to be the way the Superdelegates are looking at this and the main stream media as well.

    Everyone is so conscious of needing to be POLITICALY CORRECT here, because no one wants to be called a racist.

    So, Senator Obama gets a free walk...

    May 31, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  5. paul, nyc ny

    Divide up the delegates. Do half instead of the full number. BUT DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE give Barack delegates if they did not vote for him in those primaries. I know his name was not on the ballad because of the DNC but that was his choice to make. Hillary choice not to campaign but left her name on there and people voted for her. I am sorry but to give him the delgates from either state that he did not earn would be foolish and unfair.

    Suck it up, Barack, and say like the man you feel you are that it would be wrong just to take votes where people did not clearly vote for you. Remember, there were MANY other candidates in the race then. Maybe they should just divide up all the undecided among all those in the race at that time.

    May 31, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  6. Stephen from TN

    The Clintons makes me sick. First, they agree, with all the other candidates, not to seat ANY delegates from these two states (when they thought they were going to win), now they want "full voting to count" (as long as it favors her and Clinton can seat them the way she wishes). Clinton even has convinced herself that she is winning the popular vote (minus any non-primary states)....Do us all a favor Bill and Hill....Either admit that you lost, unite the party, and leave with a shred of dignity (and possibly even a VP position), or go on and keep it up with the ego, destroy the party, elect McCain...and then go and join with the Republicans who would welcome you with open arms. After 8 years of Bill and 8 years of wonder so many of us are turning independent now!!

    May 31, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  7. Richard

    With due respect for the Clintons, This is all Hillary's (and Bill's) fault. She should have left the race long, long time ago and saved the Democratic pary from this all...My advice? PLEASE Hillary, GO home and begin thinking how you can help the dems win the WH in November.

    May 31, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  8. daren in miami FLORIDA!!!



    May 31, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  9. Kim

    The rules were made at the beginning of the campaign. Hillary was aware of the rules and only wants them to change because she is losing. Barack did not make the rules and deserves to win or lose based on the rules set by the Democratic Party. The political spin on this is embarrasing for the country. Bring all of the troops home who are fighting to help establish democracy because democracy does not even exist in this country. If they decide to change it will be the end of the democratic party the end of our democratic process.

    May 31, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  10. dave

    how can you tell people that the primary election isnt going to count, then hold it, and then after that say "guess what, remember we said it wouldnt count, well we lied, it does count... gotcha" how is that fair? alot of obama supporters stayed home, dont let anybody fool you by saying they didnt.

    May 31, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  11. A Combat Vet's Observation

    There is no question in the minds of great men and women that the vote in Florida and Michigan should be counted as voted.

    Why not?

    If it is not counted here and accurately why should the states votes count in November? That is the line the Republicans will and should use.

    So to blunt that attack, I suggest the all votes be counted as voted.
    and let the chips fall as they may

    It is the AMERICAN WAY to count all the Votes.

    May 31, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  12. Susan

    FL and Michigan votes SHOULD count!!

    They are Americans too!!!!!!

    May 31, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  13. Beth in NH

    This isn't just about what will happen this year. How will there be any control over the schedule next time around if the states get their full votes when they break the rules?

    May 31, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  14. Milwaukee

    I say they have a revote. Include all of Michigan and Florida and set up the computers so that they receive all of the information within 1day of process.

    May 31, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  15. Australian

    I cannot believe that Hilary supporters can honestly think that awarding all delegates as is would be a fair and just process. Its like a running race, where one runner turned up two days earlier than the sheduled race day, runs the race by themselves and declares themselves the winner! It does not make sense at all.

    Anyway, I cannot imagine that the DNC will take this already won election away from Obama. It would tarnish the Democratic Party even more than what Hillary has done already. It would push away all the new voters that Obama has brought to the voting booths and turn them away forever.

    I hope you Americans, for the good of the world and yourselves, wont steal this election from the one person who we foreigners feel can redeem America in the eyes of the world. You have a chance to vote for a peaceful and intellegent man who can not only portray the fresh ideas the world needs, but can show that the USA is not full of gun holding redneck cowboys with their greasy fingers on important buttons.

    The eyes of the world are on you, dont let us down again.

    May 31, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  16. William in CA

    The Committee should avoid bringing injustice to ALL democratic voters in all 50 states. It's difficult to reach a decision when the referees are players themselves. But consider this:

    1) primaries in those two states are illegitimate, and in no way should their votes have any impact to the nomination process.
    2) for the sake of uniting the party, these delegates should be allowed to attend the convention.
    3) there is no way to "calculate" a "right" % to split the delegates between the two candidates as many voters have not voted and those who have voted were not given the chance to know the candidates. So 50:50 is the only option acceptable.

    It's just sarcastic that this country send observers to other countries help police their election process. We badly needed one now.

    May 31, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  17. Don

    Hillary is just wasting her time here, she should remove the mask and show her self as a republican, may be shw can run as Mccain runing mate. I know she can not run as an independent because she doesn't share the value of the independent, she has a lot in common with the republicans.

    May 31, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  18. Eric

    This is not a shot first and ask questions later. Florida and Michigan both knew they weren't going to be counted so the results are complete moot since they are totally skewed since people who played by the rules didn't go out and vote and neither campaigned to make a direct appeal to those voters. So Clinton needs to shut up, the rules apply to her too. She's not entitled to anything, it's over, you lost so sit down and shut up.

    May 31, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  19. Chris

    If the DNC gives 100% of the delegations back to MI/FL – it will signal lack of party control/discipline... precedence needs to be set, otherwise every state will just hold votes whenever they want to and that's not what we need. (besides, is giving Obama 0 votes in MI really “fair” – come on now)

    Voters should blame their local governments, not the DNC

    Additionally, an "overhaul" isn't needed. This system has been used for decades and works just fine – we don't change football rules or laws every time someone loses. The system prevents smaller guys from just being eliminated on the first primary day and allows a "front runner" (expected front runner Hillary) to continue to gain momentum – the problem is she didn't prepare for anything past super tuesday – and that's her own fault (overestimating herself or underestimating competition). Heck, she didn't even campaign in like 10+ states and only went for "big" states... so the small states don't count? Puerto Rico sure does seem to count. hmmmm

    May 31, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  20. Donte

    It really bothers me that the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates are a big priority of the Clinton campaign. The fact that she now only wants to count the delegates because she absolutely needs them. Is this who we want to represent the Democratic person? Someone only concerned with what's best for her?

    May 31, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  21. asekhauno joe

    yes. count every vote or go for another primary in both states or uphold the rules as stated. this is what we expect from united states in the name of civilisation


    May 31, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  22. Connie

    The blame here belongs to to republican, which is responsible for moving up the Florida primary. For you who say you will vote republican is just plan ludicrous. You should be so upset with the republicans that you come out in great number to support your democrat nominee.

    May 31, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  23. Carmen

    This is insane. Lawmakers breaking the rules and penalties not being enforced. When does wrong become wrong and its' a closed issue? I am tired of this campaign. I am a Republican who serves her country. I wear my uniform with pride and right now, I am so ashamed of the politics and the face of our go ahead and call me "un-American". Whatever...I am an American and I have the right to say shame on the racism, the bigotry and the BS that Hillary Clinton is pulling.

    May 31, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  24. Jay in Chicago

    People on the committee should look at the big picture when deciding michigan and florida. A very substantive argument can be made that Obama for all purposes is the democratic nominee. In the 48 sanctioned states by the DNC there is no question he has outperformed Hillary Clinton. She knew Michigan and Florida wouldn't count and here we are, with Obama ahead by 200 or so delegates and needing under 40 to wrap this up. Hillary should have long since bowed out gracefully because her playing this dangerous game is only hurting the democratic party.

    May 31, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. Nat

    I'm more than a little aghast that there are actually Clinton supporters who feel it is fair to count Michigan votes, even when their opponent was not on the their candidate also ought not to have been if her own rules were followed.

    I don't think I trust the judgment of people like this, nor do I trust the fairness and judgment of their candidate if this is the best they can come up with as a "fair solution."

    Who are you people anyway? Did you ever learn to play fair? Or were you the ones, as children, who scratched and bit and stuck their fingers in the other kids' eyes?

    May 31, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
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