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. Sharon - NC

    Let's be sure to change the rules for the female candidate and especially since she was a major part of enacting those rules. And she's a feminist? I guess there's men, women, and Clintons. Oh, it's Clinton bias isn't it? I get it now.

    May 31, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. TheLeftNut

    For all votes to count, you have to count all votes. Except MI and FL gave up that right when they moved the primaries ahead.

    The played Russian rouette...and lost.


    May 31, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. MdGirl4Obama

    Can you get any more unfair? How can the Obama campaign make this unfair demand of the Clinton camp known to all who will hear? Obama needs to have a news conference explaining what happened, what Clinton camp wants, what he wants - with flip charts, Slides and the like. THIS IS A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE and she cannot get away with it!!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  4. vic nashville,Tn

    Democratic party always fail to solve the problems
    Only Bill Clinton gave the life to the party in 1992
    So our votes only for Hillary Clinton
    Hillary 08

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

    Make the rules. Break the rules. Well, alright! No harm, no foul. The DNC is very literally, a joke.

    May 31, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  6. Carol

    HILLARY continues to flaunt her claim to have the overall "popular vote" using the illegal vote tally from the Michigan and Florida primaries, and uses that as the only basis for her "deserving the nomination". The real story is because of her overwhelming arrogance, she continues to splinter the Democratic party by staying in the race when the voters have spoken otherwise. To reward her now by giving her an unfair edge using the Florida and Michigan results is ludicrous. Its time for the party leaders to finally say "ENOUGH HIULLARY!"

    May 31, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  7. Paul

    Congrats Democrat party for keeping this dignified. In particular Mr Obama has set the scene for the next 4 years – concillatory, diologue based remedies for situations that are tough and complex.

    That is what makes a strong leader. A capacity to address the issues of the day and find an outcome. Leadership is about poise, timing and example. Not about boasting who is the bigger, badder wolf, and how many houses that wolf can blow over by huffing and puffing. The word liberal shall bare no shame after you are done Mr Obama – and robust liberalism is here to stay.

    The times of the neo con are over – robust liberalism is back in town.

    May 31, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  8. Kentucky

    I think we're all really sick of this. The Clintons agreed to the rules when this all started some time ago and Hillary was on the commitee to punish Michigan and Florida. Does anyone have any doubt what she would be saying right now if she were leading? I'm sure Bill is behind alot of this, so why would anyone want either one of them back in the White House when they cannot be honest with us now? The goal post keeps on moving back with these two and the cheerleaders are chanting " if you can't beat em, cheat em"

    May 31, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  9. Larz

    What they are going to do is a VIOLATION OF THE DEMOCRATIC RULES,favoring Hillary!!IF it would've been the other way around ,I don't think Obama would've been acting like she has done!!!It is NOT fair to change the rules of a baseball game just because you are l;osing!!!!!!!!!!!!Think about it!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  10. Hillary is NUTS!

    It is disgusting to see a FORMER FIRST LADY act like a child. For years the Clintons acted like they're OWED something by the American people like greedy juveniles.

    IMPEACHED Bill Clinton should have checked his lunatic wife but too late, his reputation will tell a story of greed, corruption, impeachment, fraud and self pity.

    YOUTUBE and the INTERNET is the truth teller and boy oh boy, the libraries will be filled with PROOF the Clintons should be erased from history and placed with the criminals.

    May 31, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  11. Chris Smart

    A peaceful and unifying solution is one that will guarantee that by the end of tuesday, there is aclear nominee for the party so that everyone will coalesce around him/her.

    The obvious thing to do is to seat the full delegation; giving each delegate halve a vote and sharing them 50/50 among the two candidates. Any solution that gives Hillary net delegates will increase her hope of miraculously becoming a nomine; this will make her continue the infighting and division that is currently rocking the party and make the party vulnerable come November. She needs to understand that she cannot win (as things stand now) witout destroying the party.

    Which is more important? Being the Nominee of a destroyed party; and loosing in the fall or working for the success of a united party that will likely win the whitehouse?

    May 31, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  12. Brian Knoxville, TN



    Fight for them not only because it’s right, but also because we need them to win the White House.

    If the DNC and Party leaders don’t seat every delegate, fully and accurately in reflection of the voters’ will, then take the fight to the Convention!

    If they can’t grasp the importance of Michigan and Florida in the general election, then the nominee of the Party deserves to lose in November and will lose in November.

    If you don’t get the nomination and take the fight to John McCain, then McCain will be the next President of the United States.

    In addition to Michigan and Florida, you get the Electoral votes from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky–all the key swing states. NO OTHER DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE WILL GET THOSE ELECTORAL VOTES IN NOVEMBER.

    Why? Because you are the best candidate with the best ideas and the best qualifications to win the White House and be the best President of the United States.

    You have millions of supporters—who understand our political system and know what time it is—standing with you!


    May 31, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  13. Deadhead for Obama

    It's nice to see that Hilldog has the political clout to change the rules. According to the rules none of the delegates should be seated, and Clinton did not once mention that the states primaries should count until she was losing. Now it's all about the voters being disenfranchised, give me a break, where was she when the ruling first came down. Also in Michigan either both of their names should have been on the ballot or neither. The fact that Clinton kept hers just shows that she makes her own rules, just like she is trying to do now.

    Proud Obamabot (whatever that's supposed to mean)

    May 31, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  14. david in seattle

    Get it done guys so that the fat lady can sing......

    May 31, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  15. Women for Obama

    It is just beyond my comprehension how this woman can honestly think she deserves to have all of the delegates seated as they are. It just doesn't make ANY sense to me? It is clearly changing the game as you play.


    Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the decision that if Michigan and Florida moved their primaries up that they would LOSE ALL of their delegates. SHE voted IN FAVOR of this? Does anyone else see a problem with her current argument?

    Obama wasn't even ON the ballot in Michigan. Many people did NOT vote in Florida or Michigan because they were told their votes wouldn't count. So- in lue of a redo, which obviously isn't going to happen...there just is not a fair way to settle this. I'm expecting that they will give Florida half of the delegates (all seated with half votes) and nothing with Michigan. This even seems too generous.

    These so called protesters today are a total joke! They are basically saying that it's ok to cheat?

    I am just so sick of this. Thank GOD for the party leaders who will not let this drag on after this weekend!

    Get out of the way Hillary! We are sick of you!

    May 31, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  16. Jason

    The fact that this meeting has to occur at all does not shine well on Hillary. She and her people, including the ones at the top, all agreed with the consensus that Michigan and Florida (where I'm from) broke the clearly-set rules and would have to pay for it. There were no qualms back then, no cries of "count of the vote". Not until she began losing and needed the votes to even have the slimmest chance.

    If Hillary doesn't concede after June 3, the party will begin taking structural damage every single day, and we will be royally screwed in November, when McCain and the Bush machine picks us apart. And God help us if that happens. I'm not willing to be drafted to fight in Iran.

    May 31, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  17. Voters For A Fair Convention

    What a liar, Obama ran tv ads in Florida. If he gets the nomination I am definitely voting McCain

    May 31, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. J.V.Hodgson

    Follow the the rules.
    50% vote for pledged delegates and split other contestants votes 50/50 each candidate.
    Ban the super delegates primary voting and Convention.
    Deal with the popular vote allocation, based on Michigan state democrats allocation of delegates proportinately it does not matter if you use 100 or 50% proportions the answer is the same and Obama loses about 400,000 popular votes but is still ahead, if you include rightly so, caucus states.
    Michigan "uncommited" ( 40%). When HRC was on the ballot ,who does she imagine when they took the trouble to write uncommitted, they voted for ?It certainly was not her! so she will disenfrancise those voters and the Pledged delegates as well who might have gone to Obama. Ooops sorry she wants those as well.
    Florida take it as voted andother candidates 50/50 to Obama and Clinton.
    Stop confusing delegate votes with popular vote, that is purely a Clinton political argument to the Super delegates, which if upheld = the democratic party loses in November whether it is Clinton or Obama because many democrats who turned out for "change" will not vote in the Presidential election. That is a more realistic statement than the media Hype of democrats voting Republican and McCain.
    From what I read the democrats ( rules committee) this weekend will shoot themselves in the foot and be alame duck in the presidential election it is very sad to observe as a totally outside person but a democrat at heart.

    May 31, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  19. Mel

    In any Democracy the rule of law must prevail if it is to be worth its salt. As Socrates noted long ago, if you don't like the current polis and its rules and conventions you have choices in a democracy: you can work to change the rules or you can leave. But you can't change the rules in the middle of the game to benefit one player/team. This makes a mockery out of rules, which have emerged for good reasons.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton faces several paradoxes. She wants to be leader of the world's leading democracy. She wants to be leader of the Democratic Party. However, she is a bad example of both because were she to succeed, everywhere in the world she goes she would lend comfort to the enemies of democracy. So I hope in their wisdom the Dems will find a reasonable compromise, which does not reward rule-breakers and does not reward Clinton's unfortunate (and self-interested) advocacy of rule-breaking.

    May 31, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  20. Belle

    It is amazing to me that Obama has the audacity to call Clinton divisive..
    After all, his relationships, his fabrication of Wright's background so his speech would sound good, his 67 lies (and counting) about his background, about Rezko, how he handled his first campaign, and what he is doing in this campaign....

    It seems this entire campaign has been about Obama Drama explaining away his friendships, calling those that disagree with him either divisive, or his supporters calling them racists, and he has managed to run this entire primary without taking a clear stand on anything...other than he was right....well so was Bush...he reminds me too much of Bush...Bush is another man that cannot be criticized on anything...

    Obama says Clinton can't be trusted....but Obama's OWN actions prove he can't be trusted...but he is much smoother at explaining away...I will give him that....

    May 31, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. Laidetea

    I will support my Democratic Nominee no matter what....we must not allow McCain to go to the White House.

    May 31, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. KHAL Houston, Texas

    In the world of "competition" the is a period of play, rules that you play by, referees to enforce them, some object or ball that is used to faciltate the competition and finally, the one with the most wins,that played by the rules,did not get penalized too much, not too many fouls and has the most points!!!! then that "one "WINS!!! Now, what part of that do people not UNDERSTAND!!!!!

    May 31, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. Jay..

    I want Obama to win over all but I think he should give her what she wants in Florida and try to work out something in Michigan. How could Hillary supporters think that Obama got NO votes in Michigan. I still would swear that if Hillary wasn't loosing, this wouldn't be an issue for her. Maybe it would be for Obama, I honestly don't know. But Michigan is messed up because his name was not on the ballot and her camp doesn't want Obama to get any delegates from Michigan since he wasn't on the ballot. It doesn't seem fair. Overall, Those states broke the party rules and what's really messed up about it is that the republicans are the ones who made that decision and moved the dates up. I just wish this whole thing wasn't an issue. Hillary agreed to the rules and said it herself.

    May 31, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. E. C., Houston, Texas

    The Democratic Party Chairman is responsible for this stupid and ridiculous Rule that is absolutely unenforceable. Where were the brains of this group when trying to come up with a penalty? What difference did it make that the Primary was held at an earlier or different date? It's all stupid and the Chairman is to Blame. All the votes should be counted from both states. This is a Presidential Primary........understand? ALL VOTES MUST BE COUNTED! You can screw around with the Number of Votes! It's ABSURD and STUPID that such a RULE was made in the FIRST PLACE! ARE CHILDREN RUNNING THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY? LOOKS LIKE IT.....

    May 31, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  25. TexasBlackTea

    Seat some but not's only fair.

    May 31, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
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