WASHINGTON (CNN) - The chairman of Michigan's Democratic Party called on the national committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee to seat Michigan's full delegation with full voting rights, and divide the pledged delegates between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, 69-59.
RBC member Elaine Kamarck, a Clinton supporter, told Michigan party chair Mark Brewer the proposal was flawed.
"My problem is willy-nilly, arbitrary assignment of delegates when we actually had a legitimate vote," she said.
Brewer responded that the party had not followed any set guidelines in determining the split - but had reached this compromise because "we have to do something in this situation; we can't do nothing. I wish there were more, I wish it were better, but it's all we have."
The dispute over the seating of Michigan's delegates is a thornier dispute than the dilemma over Florida's delegation. Clinton was the only major candidate who did not remove her name from Michigan's primary ballot following the RBC's decision last summer.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Florida Democrats presented a nearly-united front to the Rules and Bylaws Committee Saturday in favor of Jon Ausman's proposal that would allow half the state's delegates to be seated at the summer convention.
"Today I am here fighting for the right of Florida Democrats to have their voices heard," said state Rep. Arthenia Joyner, in remarks that repeatedly referenced Florida's experience during the 2000 presidential election.
She said that the effort to prevent a repeat of that experience by passing a bill calling for a paper trail for every ballot had ironically resulted in the complete disenfranchisement of the state's Democrats.
The measure that moved Florida's primary date to January 29 was attached to that bill.
The committee asked whether she was calling for the seating of all the state's delegates, or would accept the 50 percent solution offered by Ausman.
"In life you don't get everything you want, but I want it all!" Joyner said as many in the crowd cheered.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Florida Democrats conceded in their opening remarks that a party penalty for holding their primary was unavoidable but pleaded with Democratic leaders to seat half their state's delegates at the summer convention.
"We recognize, in fact, that Florida has violated that timing rule," said Florida Democratic National Committee member Jon Ausman, who had challenged the original penalty, and a punishment of some kind was "appropriate."
But he said Florida's superdelegates did not need to face a similar reduction under party rules.
He appealed to party unity as he urged the Rules and Bylaws Committee to reconsider the penalty.
"When we leave the room, I want all of us wearing our blue jerseys, so we can take on the Republicans in their red jerseys in November," Ausman said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Alexis Herman, co-chair of the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, made clear on Saturday that the 50 percent compromise –- which would reduce the delegate strength of both Michigan and Florida by half, and allow those that remain to be seated at the Democratic convention -– was on the table.
The national party stripped both states of all their delegates last year -– but the automatic penalty only required that these delegations be reduced by half.
The former Clinton cabinet official stressed that a full reinstatement wasn’t up for debate by the RBC, saying both states knew before they moved up their primary dates that there would be severe consequences for violating party rules -– and that the penalty had worked as intended, since no other contests were scheduled for January beyond the two unauthorized votes and the four sanctioned by the party.
"We had many states that wanted to violate the timing. We needed to send a very strong signal in order to prevent additional states from moving forward,” Herman said in her opening remarks.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean had tough words for the media on Saturday, saying that the presidential race had been plagued by "blatantly sexist comments, particularly by some members of the media - and blatantly racist remarks."
"The media will...look for conflict," he told members of the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee gathered to resolve the impasse over seating the Florida and Michigan delegations. "They will not talk about your energy and your passion for your candidate, and your enthusiasm."
Supporters of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid have increasingly targeted reporters and other members of the Democratic Party for what they say is unfair treatment of the New York senator because she is a woman. As he spoke, hundreds of Clinton supporters rallied outside to press for the full seating of both the Florida and Michigan delegates.
Dean seemed to direct his comments at these angry voters, many of whom carried signs Saturday that threatened to withhold their vote in November if both states were not seated in full in accordance with the results of their January primaries, as Clinton has urged.
As he stewed over the demise of his own presidential bid in 2004, he recalled, he received a call from Al Gore. Dean said he spent several minutes "ranting and raving" about the way he felt he had been mistreated by the party. He said that Gore responded: "Howard, this is not about you - it's about your country."
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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Democratic leaders began their meeting on Saturday to resolve the dispute over the Florida and Michigan delegations, Barack Obama's deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand sent supporters a fundraising e-mail that pointed to Republican anxiety over Obama's possible impact at the polls in November.
In an e-mail titled "Democrats Win Landslide Victory," Republican former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist wrote "I have a real fear of waking up to this headline after the elections this fall," describing concerns among GOP officials over Obama's campaign infrastructure.
"In key states, news accounts indicate Democrats are outpacing Republicans registering voters. We also know Barack Obama's campaign is utilizing the Internet to raise record amounts of money to support his campaign and Democrats nationally," Frist wrote. "... all in the hope that new voters and record resources will produce a Democrat landslide victory this fall."
"There's so much at risk, and conservatives I talk with from all across the country are feeling the rumblings of 'what could be,'..." Frist wrote.
Hildebrand wrote that Frist was "right to be worried," and highlighted the fundraising deadline for the month of May, which ends at midnight, adding that this marked "the last chance to have a meaningful impact on the final three primary contests..."
KEYSTONE, South Dakota (CNN) - Everyone in Barack Obama's traveling press entourage thought it was just a late night jaunt to Mt. Rushmore, sans the candidate.
Since Obama is planning no events at the popular tourist destination on his two-day swing through the Rushmore State, about 30 members of the media and his staff decided to check out the monument on their own after the work day was over.
But press were informed at about 10:15 PM local time - midway through the 30 minute bus ride to the site - that the White House hopeful would be meeting up with them and would be at the base of the mountain ahead of time.
Some members of the media had not come on the trip, since everyone had assumed it was an Obama-less evening to relax.
Traveling spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters after the stop concluded that Communications Director Robert Gibbs had informed the senator a group of people were making the trip. Obama's response: "I want to go, too."
It was his first trip to the national park. Earlier in the week, rival Hillary Clinton made her own trip to the famous monument.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After weeks of planning by unions, women’s rights groups and others supporting Hillary Clinton's push to seat Florida and Michigan delegates at the Democratic convention this summer, supporters of the New York senator's presidential bid arrived in the nation’s capital by the busload Friday in advance of rallies outside Saturday's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting.
“I’m hoping we restore 100 percent of the delegates from both Michigan and Florida and the popular vote will also be restored,” said Karen Feldman, an organizer of the “Count Every Vote” rally. “...I firmly believe that in Florida that was the purest election we’ve ever had, and I think that those votes should stand where they are and should be counted the way they are.”
Florida Demands Representation, another sponsoring group pushing for the January 29 vote to be recognized by the national party, said Friday it was expecting 400 to 500 supporters to arrive by Saturday. “The Democratic party is in danger in Florida,” said organizer James Hannagan.
The seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations is a priority for Clinton, who won both unsanctioned contests and is currently trailing frontrunner Barack Obama by 202 delegates in the latest CNN count.
Hannagan said that if Clinton is not the Democratic nominee, some members of his forum will vote for McCain, write in Hillary’s name or not vote at all.
The Clinton campaign has tacitly encouraged pressure on RBC members meeting to resolve the controversy, but has denied any role in protests planned for Saturday.