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. yes08

    I guess you CNN twerps are afraid to publish my email about clintonistas because you support her

    May 31, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  2. Lisa

    The more i'm getting to know Obama the more i'm starting not to like him. He didn't win Florida back then, and he's not going to win Florida now.

    May 31, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  3. len

    A pathetic comment on politics in the USA.

    May 31, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  4. warren-Mich

    has anyone figured out how the dems can win without fla or mi in nov?
    the latest polls show mcbush winning both states and dems dont want to make both states wecome
    just form the circular firing squad.

    May 31, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  5. DemNJ

    Florida and Michigan decided to go against DNC rules when they decided to hold their primaries early knowing that their votes would not count. Back then, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama were fine with that decision (of course back then Senator Clinton thought that she would be the Presidential nominee).

    Now that it is clear that Obama will be the next democratic nominee she is stirring up Michigan and Florida voters to go out and protest which could possibly divide the Democratic Party in those states. This clearly shows how her ambitions are before what the American people have already decided.

    May 31, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  6. Beburg Zehri

    This wouldn't have come this far had Obama been white. If Clinton was leading in delegates she wouldnt have let change the rules. This hypocrisy makes me sick.

    May 31, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  7. sdn

    I think it's all so incredibly rediculous. If Hillary feels she can just change the rules to meet her needs, which are not the needs of the entire country, then maybe you all may want to reconsider voting her into office. As you're seeing now she will only work her heart out for herself, whether it be legal or illegal. She's an extremely selfish and manipulative woman who won't hesitate to lie and or destroy in order to get what she wants. That type of person is dangerous as President. Remember we've just endured 8 years of this. Do you really want a repeat???

    May 31, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. Mark Klimaszewski

    The Titanic is sinking and the band,with the water lapping at its ankles is arguing over planning the music for the evening...

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

    If Senator Obama was white he would not be going through this. The whole point of Senator Clinton's action is to keep a black man out of the White House. If John Edwards was in Obama shoes you would hear nothing from Bill or Hillary. I don't see why she should have her way with the Florida and Michigan votes she is no better than Senator Obama. I guess today we will see just how many racists there are and where the majority of them are located.

    May 31, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  10. georgia

    Just follow the agreed upon rules ! Hillary will always flip-flop in that entitled demeanor for whatever serves her best,whenever ! She agreed last fall that the votes would't count if Fla. & Mich. did not follow the rules. Where does her childish selfishness end ???? End it now !! Send her packing !!

    May 31, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  11. Mimi

    Well, I must say that the Clinton team is certainly pulling out all the stops to try to win Hillary's "entitled' position as President. These attempts to stop Obama, including the relic from another lifetime, Geraldine Ferraro, will fail.
    If Clinton and her mob manage to 'steal' the nomination from Obama, she will face the biggest defeat in her elected history in November.

    Go Obama!!

    May 31, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  12. Lavanya

    The reasonable solution would be to seat Florida as is, and to split the Michigan delegates 50-50. Seating Michigan delegates as is would be unfair to the Obama camp, and it could be conceded, for peace's sake, that Hillary won fair and square in Florida.

    Can't this just be resolved so we can all move on to the general election?

    Obama '08

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

    The two states broke the rules. They new there would be a penalty, but did it anyway. Just like some Republican states that were stripped of half their delegates. Hillary Clinton and Obama agreed the votes would not count towards primary, and would not champaign in those states. Senator Obama followed the rules, Senator Clinton did not. Why should Obama be penalized for following the rules? If a gunman shot an individual should the police arrest the the person that was shot and let the gunman go?

    May 31, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  14. Luis

    Continue to show America what a flawed party you are:)

    Love it.......

    May 31, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. Marc Michel

    That the Democrats are even having a discussion about counting the Florida and Michigan delegations just proves once again that there is no discipline in the Democratic Party. The two states knew the rules. If the rules are to mean anything, then they should not count. To even have a meeting about this, just shows to the country that you can't trust the Democrats (and I am one) to hold to their principles. They will always compromise their principles to demonstrate sympathy for the poor, "I've created my own problem" downtrodden. Personal accountability is not something we Democrats seem to believe in whether its pardoning people for taking on mortgages they knew they could never pay or running primary elections after being told "don't do it because it won't count".

    This is why many people don't trust us on national security issues because they think we will always seek appeasement.

    Let's for once show them, we do have principles and the backbone to stand by them. No delegates for Florida or Michigan. Period.

    May 31, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  16. James , Houston, TX.

    Hillary Clinton should PULL OUT of the Democratic Party and register under a "NEW REALITY" Party, Independent; and screw the Demo Donkey"s.
    Senator Clinton is the BEST Candidate for the Office of President !!!
    Rep. Sheila Jackson, HO. TX. would be an excellent V.P. Choice .
    The Country wants and needs Change, YOU GOT IT !!!

    May 31, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. Rupa

    DNC should not allow HRC supporters to make this difficult. It is very simple, by not splitting FL and MI equally; DNC will penalize the states which abided by DNC rules. FL and MI should be sited in a way that does not change the result, rendered by law abiding 48 states.

    May 31, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  18. White folks please coming from a white man

    This is all Hillary mess. Her campaign wrote the rules and all agreed and signed on a dotted line. Hillary is also on tape from last year about how Michigan and Florida vote will not count. Question1: where was Hillary supporters and voices then?? Question2. Why it took Hillary until April to start this crap about popular vote that Michigan and Florida vote should vote. Now all of a sudden she wants the the whole ten yards in her favor. Sorry!!! Its not going to happen.

    Go Obama '08

    May 31, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  19. Joyce in Florida

    I hope that this meeting turns out in a positive way and that the delegates are fairly awarded (hopefully by primary results–especially in Florida). I would hate for this to go all the way to the convention, but if today's ruling is not acceptable, there will probably be a fight on the convention floor. I still believe Hillary Clinton to be the stronger nominee to fight against John McCain. I am hoping and praying that she will come out ahead in all of this. The people of Florida have spoken and want Hillary Clinton as our nominee for President. Keep fighting Senator Clinton; we still love and support you 100%. GO HILLARY 08!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. Katie

    Can"t the delegates just be shared equally between the two candidates to aviod any beefs?

    May 31, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. Interesting

    The debacle that is unfurling throughout this day will be anything but unifying. Thanks Hillary! Republicans wouldn't have a chance without you.

    May 31, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. Rebecca

    Only 30% of Michigan voters voted in the democratic primary. If the DNC seats their delegates "as is" they are disfranchising over 70% of people who didn't vote because Michigan officials made it clear that the votes would not count. Who is being disfranchised here? The 30% who voted anyway or the 70% who didn't want to waste their time and gas money because they were told their votes wouldn't matter anyway?

    May 31, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. Steven

    Please make sure it is fairly distributed to Obama

    May 31, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  24. Mike, Vicksburg, MI

    There is no way that HC deserves the delegates from the Michigan "un-primary". She signed on to the idea of the illegitimacy of of our primary late in 2007 along with the rest of the candidates. Obama's name did not appear, reasonably so since the rules said that the primary would not count, and so a significant number of us did not even go to the polls to participate in what we were told was an exercise in futility. Now she wants all of the votes counted which were cast in her favor and, basically, none of the "uncommitted" ones counted which, it could be argued, were cast for Obama in large part. At the very least it is clear that they were not cast for her.

    All of this, and the pastor comments, and the "bitter" and on and on is the same old, same old – get the people to concentrate on anything but the real issues so they won't notice when nothing in their increasingly difficult day-to-day lives changes for the better.

    I am a 60 year old white male with two college degrees who is tired of the politics of division, the empty promises, the self-serving power trips, and the Republican every "man" for themselves philosophy of the good life and I am going to support Obama with a fervor that I have never experienced before in my voting career.

    May 31, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. Nick

    How come Hillary supporters weren't screaming "count all the votes" months ago when the DNC stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates? This is a shameful display by the Clinton camp. But I can't say I'm surprised.

    May 31, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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