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. Phil

    I'm in favor of 1/2 vote each. Please keep in mind these states were warned up front not to move their primaries ahead. Party officials moved their primaries up anyway despite the fact that they were breaking the rules. Both Clinton and Obama agreed with those rules back in Sept 2007. Neither candidate campaigned in those states and Obama's name wasn't on the ballot in Michigan. Now that Clinton needs those states, she wants to change the rules. She wants the results to count. Obama played by the rules. What type of message is the DNC sending to young people in this country and around the world if Clinton is allowed to benefit by changing the rules ?
    However they do it here's the bottom line: Neither candidate should benefit. You cannot benefit by breaking the rules. It's a moral issue not a political one.

    May 31, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  2. William

    Why did Obama take his name off the Michigan ballot and not the Florida ballot? I say that since he took his name off Michigans ballot, that's too bad. Give Hillary what she won there and Obama zero.

    May 31, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  3. Melissa

    I will lose all respect for the democratic party if they seat the delegates from both Florida and Michigan in full as is. It is not fair to those who didn't vote because they were told it wouldn't count, not fair to the states who followed the rules, and definitely sends the wrong message about accountability. The republicans didn't see such division in their ranks! I guess the rule should have been to cut them in half rather than strip all delegates, but how can you call changing the rules in the middle of the game fair? It's just ridiculous that this is even an issue.

    May 31, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. Victor in NC

    We wouldn't have this war between DEM is Hillary would have gotten out back when Obama won 13 straight.

    I am starting to not understand her reasoning

    Billary knows they can't win, why do they keep taring the party down.
    This only shows how mean and ugly they are as a team
    I don't want these kind of people in the WH..

    sorry, they have reach the limit

    May 31, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. Fred. CT


    Thanks for this mess! Hillary you are showing your true colors, Step 1) agree to a voting frame work at the beginning of the process that excludes Florida and Michigan for breaking the rules with not one thought or comment about how excluding voters from the process would be a bad idea, Step 2) run an over confident campaign and get over taken, Step 3) Now that you are behind cry foul and fight to over turn the very agreement you signed in the beginning because it is now in your best interest to do so and start claiming that everyone's vote needs to be counted only because it benefits you.

    Hate to say it Hillary but if you did your job as a PUBLIC SERVANT and fought for these voters and their votes to be counted in the beginning of the process and not now because it is now in your best interest to do so I would have a bit of respect for you.

    It is painfully obvious you are acting in your own self interest and you never cared about the actual voters until now. You do not deserve the nomination – your job is to serve the people and you and the party let them down in the beginning and are flip flopping now for your benefit, not theirs.

    May 31, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  6. Peter

    If Senator Clinton is looking for a new challenge after Wednesday she should consider standing for the Chair of the Rules Committee of the Democratic Party. She has bent and broken them so many times she is certainly not lacking in experience!!

    May 31, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  7. John

    I guess if you can't win, try to change the rules afterward. Hillary seems to have a lot of admiration for the way Republicans do things. Do her zombie protesters even realize (or care) that Hillary had agreed to this early on when she didn't believe she could lose? Why didn't their votes matter then? It's so insincere. Hillary is not the person I want running this country. We've had enough insincerity and divisiveness in the Bush era, we certainly don't need to put the Democratic version in office.

    May 31, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  8. True democrat

    i do not understand why there is so much talk about this. Rules are rules! The DNC should not feel obliged to seat these delegates just because Clinton wants them to be seated after she noticed that she was losing. she had no problem with Michigan and Florida being punished when she was ahead in the delegate count. And no way in hell must they be fully awarded. If any are to be awarded, it needs to be 50/50! No proportionality because Obama was not even that well known then. if she is so adament about sitting them, then let Florida and michigan vote again. And she pay for the process. If she can afford it! come on hillary, come back and sing another day. This show is over! and i must say, there is definately some truth to the Pfleger sermon. I ain't the religious radical nor black but he wasn't lying. he spoke the truth. Shame on u Hillary!

    May 31, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  9. L Jay NYC

    I think that a very valid point is raised that HAS to be considered. How many voters in Florida did not even show up to vote, knowing the ruling of the DNC and its ramifications? To argue that this is a valid representation of Florida's vote, by either candidate, is misguided at best. In addition, how many did the same in Michigan. And you cannot discount the consideration that all the uncommitted votes in Michigan were, if not a vote FOR Obama, at least a vote AGAINST Clinton.

    For the Clinton campaign to say Obama doesn't get any is just an example of how far they will go to try anything to secure an elusive nomination. As if Clinton's backtracking on her pledge to abide by the DNC's decision were not evidence enough – and that is only on THIS topic. There is not enough time or space here to list ALL the examples over the entire course of the last 2 months.

    May 31, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  10. chris j

    does hillary not realize that if all of the 185 florida delegates are seated, they are seated proportionally, so even if she did win a fairly large majority of them, HE WOULD STILL CLINCH THE NOMINATION because he only needs 46 delegates.

    May 31, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  11. R.A.

    What part of "NO" do these folks not understand???? All parties agreed to the rules whenthey were made!!! All our lives were told to follow the rules.....if you go out of bounds, you don't get a "do over", YOU FOLLOW THE RULES!!!
    Geeez.... any five year old could have resolved this in no time..

    May 31, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  12. D.

    Remenber who made this mess for you in Flordia and Michigan.
    The fact Crist is bring on the short list of Mc Cain makes me wonder did he sign the date hoping for this sort of mess.
    I just dont know who the Michigan Governor just thought she was doing. Democratic rules didn't apply to her and her state?

    May 31, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Eric

    To serve the voters fairly both states should have delegates seated and the ballots cast should reflect the voters choice regardless of the failure of Obama to put his name on a ballot. The vote was still carried out and that vote, the peoples voice, weighs more than a DNC technicality or rule.

    Had no voting been allowed there would have been no voice to be heard.

    This is not an issue of fairly representing a candidate since Obama wasn't prevented from campaigning yet he chose to deny the voters a voice even if it were only to reflect their opinion and not be used in traditional selection of delegates. It was a poor political move, period. As if the opinions of the people of these two states had no value at all in the process.

    May 31, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  14. K of TX

    The Clinton campaign is trying to play hardball when she really isn't negotiating in a position of strength. Everybody wants Florida and Michigan seated. But because they broke the rules, the results cannot be allowed to upset the progression of the race thus far. Clinton wants the committee to change the race so she can make some argument as to why super delegates should ignore the results of the primary/caucus format. This is politics at it's worst. She makes an argument on behalf of "the people", but she really wants to ignore "the people" who didn't vote for her. In the end, she's putting her political career on the line if she tries to fight "the people's" decision all the way to the convention. And who would be on the credentials committee if she does?....The same superdelegates that are rejecting her argument now. This is pointless...

    Obama/Hagel 08'-016'

    May 31, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  15. sarah gott

    The only truly fair solution would be an immediate re-vote, paid for by the two candidates,the democratic party, Florida, and Michigan.

    May 31, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  16. Susan

    Today should be very interesting. I wonder if they'll act any differently with the cameras on.

    May 31, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  17. krissy

    Seat half the delegates (the most allowed by law-- though apparently clinton wants to break the law- again). Give clinton her "win" in florida even though her win was based only on name recognition, which is hardly democratic. Give her her win in michigan and give obama the "uncommitted" vote, even though she shouldn't have been on the michigan ballot to begin win.
    Clinton will STILL LOSE.
    Obama will be the next president and I hope to God that Clinton disappears because she's just as manipulative as Bush.... proclaiming that every vote in florida and michigan should be counted because it's "democratic"... was that her attitude a year ago when she agreed to not seat ANY florida or michigan delegates?

    May 31, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  18. Mark, Berwyn PA

    Hillary is extorting the Democratic Party; Everyone with a sliver of a backbone must deal her a resounding defeat. Otherwise, the Party will be no better than a Banana Republic!!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  19. MrSod

    Pretty weak.
    Please let's finish this today.

    May 31, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  20. Sue, Vienna, VA

    This seems to be a "no-brainer" to me! Is there something I'm missing here? Florida and Michigan disobeyed the rules and were told there would be consequences and their votes wouldn't count. Now, Hillary is crying "Foul!" because she's losing and wants all these votes to count! She was quick enough to agree to the DNC rules when she was way ahead in the polls but now she wants to stick it to Senator Obama who carefully followed the rules!! SOMEONE, please explain this to me. I have plenty of sympathy for the voters of Florida and Michigan, however, how is changing the rules mid-stream in anyway fair when it only benefits one side – that side being Hillary Clinton, who along with her husband and backers possess the most undeserved "sense of entitlement" I've ever seen!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  21. Rebecca

    High emotions = irrational actions. I sure hope all of these decision makers keep their emotions in check before making any final decisions. We all know when our emotions run high we do things we normally wouldn't do. Many times to our great regret later on. Keep your emotions in check so you can thing logically and rationally.

    May 31, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  22. michelle

    Why is this woman doing this to the party? why, why why?
    and yep, i watched the sermon, and i ain't the radical either and trust, i completely disagreed with jeremiah right and all the foolishness that come out of his mouth but Pfleger, he said it! i was like 'preach'!!!!! Just bow out gracefully. Please Hillary. Just GO!!!!!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  23. CB

    CLINTON IS SO STUBBORN!!!!!!! I wish someone would play me, and the rest of us, a montage of her past statements where starting with florida and michigan don't matter – all the way up to: the comparison to Zimbaabwe's election and that she is now the self-appointed savior of the voters! Gimme a break. She's greedy and self-serving and this more than any other campaign trick proves it!

    May 31, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  24. Ninja

    It is fully shameful, I say. The honest way is to follow rules which were determined before MI and FL votes. Easy and simple

    May 31, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. benji

    Hillary Clinton agreed on the rules, violated them, and now making a big mess driving her supporters to protest. She and Bill are the hypocrites of this Century!! What is even more amazing is that the Democratic Party is unable to stand by its policy and rules. There is a danger that Democratic Party will lose again this election. Unite behind Obama!!

    May 31, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
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