January 10th, 2008
11:20 AM ET
10 years ago

Unexpected wrinkle for Clinton in Michigan

Clinton is the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot in Michigan.

Clinton is the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot in Michigan.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic leaders in Michigan are urging supporters of John Edwards and Barack Obama, who are not on the ballot in the state, to vote “uncommitted” in the January 15 primary – a move that could create an unexpected headache for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Clinton is the only major presidential candidate who did not pull her name from the Michigan ballot after the national party penalized the state for scheduling the vote in mid-January, rather than later in the cycle.

The national party voted to strip Michigan of delegates as a penalty, but party leaders in the electoral-vote rich state have expressed confidence that they will be seated at the convention.

None of the candidates, including Clinton, will be campaigning here, and none have authorized write-in campaigns – which means that, under state law, their supporters cannot cast write-in votes for any of them.

But if at least 15 percent of the voters in a congressional district opt for the “uncommitted” option rather than voting for Clinton, delegates not bound to any candidate could attend the national convention – a development that could allow Edwards or Obama supporters to play a role in candidate selection there.

In this cycle, more than in recent campaigns, the delegate count may prove important. Narrow losses – which still add to a candidate’s delegate total – could keep more than one presidential hopeful in contention. “For the first time since 1988, this is a delegate race,” Clinton aide Howard Wolfson told reporters Wednesday.

A new group, Detroiters for Uncommitted Voters, is launching a grassroots campaign to promote the “uncommitted” option. The Detroit News reported Thursday that Democratic Rep. John Conyers and his wife, Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, said they will launch ads calling for "uncommitted" votes if there is no other way to register support for Barack Obama.

The option is also being endorsed by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, and the state’s Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer as a way for Democrats who do not support Clinton to participate in the vote.

Neither man has endorsed a presidential candidate.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. Becky

    In response to Concerned Citizen Mesa, Arizona. I AM FROM Michigan. Our State has suffered the worst economic conditions in the nation. When the primary was
    changed it was a move by Ms. Clinton and her Democratic supporters in Michigan which would leave her name the only one on the ballott. That my friend is campaign fixing and it has cost Michigan lots of dollars for small business' because there has been no candidate and others campaigning here. If their not campaigning here there not putting money here, where it is so badly needed. Shame on our democratic committee and Hillary. She will definetly NOT get my vote.

    January 10, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Ron

    There should be a new law prohibiting a spouse of a former President from running for President of the U.S. Why? Because that former President would have access to service more than two terms! The Clintons are political SNAKES.

    January 10, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. c ilivuziman

    If you love America and you are proud of being American, please vote “uncommitted” in Michigan. Don't vote for opportuniste candadate who are ready to do anything to get votes including crying in public. There are ways for bainy people to show emotion and that's not to cry. Leading America is so challenging that crying is not enough to get the needed leadership. We need a brainy contender and if you objectively take a look on all the candidates, you will find Obama is the most brainy and he deserves American's people support.


    January 10, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. pam s.c.

    michigan supporters vote uncommited

    January 10, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Alan- Ohio

    All i need to say is.

    Obama 'n roll.

    January 10, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Angela

    Scott, Royal Oak,

    If all the kids in the pool are stupid enough to jump in and get wet and at the last minute someone decides not to jump in because its really not in the best interests of the group then that person can and will think for himself / herself and not be bullied into something that's not a good idea for the group. So when all the sheep are sloping around in the pool, she's dry and getting things done.
    Touche! Old sport!

    January 10, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Angela

    Go Hillary! Your smarter than the rest!

    January 10, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Robert

    Obama is a joke.

    President Hillary Clinton!!!!!!!!!! The only person who can undue the damage bush/cheney have done to our great country.

    January 10, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. Jim

    It's really comforting to know that our flawed system is even MORE messed up. Hillary is the only Democratic candidate on the ballot? Who came up with this gem of an idea, Bill? Forget having a legitimate Michigan vote. This will probably become this election's Hanging Chad. Just what we need; another voting debacle.

    January 10, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. Tony V.

    i love democracy

    January 10, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. No Fast Ones

    Clinton pulled a fast one and now the results are come home to haunt her as they should. Amanda, above, hit it on the head. Had not Granhold, Levin and the two Dingells pulled a calendar jumping stunt, Michigan would have had their say and I don't blame them for being angry. Just direct that anger at the appropriate parties above.

    Uncommitted is a great way to make a statement and I hope Michigan will make this choice. Do not reward slight of hand and cheap tricks. We had far too many of them in our elections.

    January 10, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Ann

    Since Michigan is cut out of the primary process, it makes sense that the delegates will not commit in advance.

    This strategy is the only way they even get to ante up.

    January 10, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    I HOPE YOU WIN!!!!!!!!

    January 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. Victor

    it would seem to me that Americans need to be careful about endorsements and oratory skills that may sway votes as has happened in the past while perfomance on the job will leave a lot to be desired.

    Talking about Cliches in this campaign. I just listened to Hillary Clinton;s message to New Hamshire and i realised that "WE CAN" WAS USED CONSISTENTLY and suddenly in Barak Obama's speech conceeding victory to Hillary in New Hamshire and indeed now newly placed on his website is "YES WE CAN". who is the original owner of this?. lets did back to other candidates and give appropriate credit. "WHO REALLY CAN" FOR AMERICA AND THE WORLD?. THE WORLD IS WATCHING............

    January 10, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Michael in Texas

    Wow great story. I live many states away and had no idea this was going on. Please give this some air time so others can be made aware. I have been a republican for 18 years (I am 36) and I have to admit Obama and Edwards are really looking good to me. In fact if either win the nomination I will jump party lines to vote.... unless they tag H Clinton for VP.

    January 10, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Rob

    People get the facts... You want change and now that Michigan, Florida and a few other states have tried to make "change happen, you start speaking out the other side of you mouth. Those states simply made a stand to fix a system that is way out of date.

    Obama and Edwards made their own fate by being "Status quo" and doing what they thought was politically correct at the time.

    Get over it!!!

    January 10, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. Carl

    "What they are really scared about is the women."

    Nita, this is not an issue of sexism. I'm a man and would love nothing more than to be able to support a woman for President. I strongly believe that many women make fantastic leaders and could serve this country amazingly well. So to imply that, as a man, my lack of support for Hillary Clinton is because I'm afraid of women is, frankly, offensive. I am not opposed to women. I am opposed to Hillary Clinton.

    Why is that? It's certainly not without consideration, as I was once a proud supporter of the former First Lady. However, after listening to her more closely over the months, I noticed that things weren't adding up. I just don't trust her, and I cannot support someone that I can't trust.

    Now, concerning Michigan. I don't understand why certain states get this special privilege of voting first and I commend Michigan for standing up and making a powerful statement about this inequity. The DNC is being petty by punishing the voters of Michigan for this.

    And finally, as far as I'm aware, the candidates all agreed that they would pull out of the race, Clinton included. Everybody but Clinton made good on their word. If this isn't backstabbing tactics, I'm not sure what is.

    I won't tell anyone how they should vote, but if I lived in Michigan, I would vote uncommitted.

    January 10, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    Okay so it's a wrinkle but how is it unexpected? This has been in the works for ages.

    January 10, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. S Uddin

    Another landmark proof of Hillary's betraying the democratic party and the nation. That is why when we opposes the war, she goes with Bush. AND SHE DOES NOT FEEL SORRY FOR killing 3,928 soilders and wounding 36,000soilders in IRAQ.

    January 10, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  20. cc, Chicago

    This is not a negative story about Sen. Clinton. It's a story about the Michigan Democratic Party. The Michigan Democratic Party broke ranks with the national party and Sen. Edwards, Obama (and before dropping out Gov. Richardson) abided by the national party's wishes and withdrew their names from the ballot. If you are a supporter of Sen. Clinton, you may still vote for her. However, if you support another candidate, you may not write in that vote because under Michigan law, the candidate has to authorize a write-in campaign. It would not be devestating for Sen. Clinton to lose to uncommitted as Sen. Obama and Sen. Edward's totals combined have always been a greater share so it would be expected. However, not voting uncommitted if you support another candidate rewards Sen. Clinton for going against the national party's interests. Why she didn't remove her name from the ballot is perhaps a question she should be asked. I have to admit, rewarding her with all the state's delegates for breaking with the will of the national party does come across a bit self-serving.

    January 10, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. Scott, Detroit

    OK. Dave in Battle Creek.

    I can NOT let your ignorant comments about Detroit go.

    Downtown Detroit had the HIGHEST growth in NEW HOUSING in 2007 – of ALL COUNTIES in southeast Michigan.

    More than 60 NEW restaurants have opened in downtown Detroit in the past five years.

    Compuware, GM & Quicken Loans are all moving tens of thousands of suburban jobs into downtown Detroit.

    A 100 Million complex was announced for Campus Martius downtown just this week, bringing more than 85 luxury residences, new theatres, retail, and restaurants to the city

    The Newly Renovated Westin Book Cadillac sold the first $1 Million penthouse in the city's core and most of their NEW luxury condos are already sold

    In addition to the Westin Book Cadillac, Detroit has seen two BRAND NEW hotels open downtown, PLUS the Fort Shelby Hotel which is now under construction.

    During Superbowl XL, the international press raved about the city of Detroit, giving the city high marks for its service industry and atmosphere.

    New Streets, landscaping, nighttime lighting and light displays, thousands of NEW residents in loft condos and apartments, new entertainment venues and businesses have been opening, NOT closing. While the rest of Michigan, including Battle Creek, has been suffering, Downtown Detroit has been one of the state's brightest spots of economic development and urban renewal.

    YOU need to take a trip to the city. You clearly haven't been here in at least 10 years.

    WHICH makes the point of my original comments above even more important – as others on here have said, the Dems snubbing michigan means they are not paying attention to what's going on here. Our voices aren't being heard and our very real economic crisis is not being considered. I have to give it to Romney & McCain, who have been on the radio here all day today – they are talking about very specific needs for Michigan and the industries that are here. I disagree with them so much, but at least they are adressing US. Whereas we are being left behind by the dems. It's a shame – not on us, or on the candidates, but on this process.

    I'll say it again: We NEED a National Primary Day, or at least something different.

    January 10, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. Sandy

    Seems to me Hillary was the only one smart enough to have faith that the State of Mich democrats would get their crap together and be represented just like the other states.

    January 10, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. La'Kitgum, NH

    Only racist fools would twist the minds of informed Americans to knowingly vote "Uncommitted" on an issue that is important to the country. Are these the kind of politicians to follow at all.

    The truth is coming out. Starting NH, Americans are beginning to understand that in politics, endogenous is more important than exogenous – that reality and fact are more important than rhetoric and body language or charisma without substance. Americans are beginning to understand that Hillary stands for what the President of the USA should be and not Obama with his empty promises.

    "Mr. Obama has failed to rise to leadership on a single major issue in the Senate," Rove writes in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. "In the Illinois legislature, he had a habit of ducking major issues, voting 'present' on bills important to many Democratic interest groups, like abortion-rights and gun-control advocates. "For someone who talks about a new, positive style of politics and pledges to be true to his word, Mr. Obama too often practices the old style of politics, saying one thing and doing another," he said.

    Obama's leadership leaves a lot more questions to be answered but foremost, how can he be an agent of change without experience? How can he change what he does not know? How can he change what he does not have? Experience in economy, healthcare and security are all in Hillary's bag and Hillary can change them for the good of all America. Obama has a bag of experience but it is empty. He has nothing to change.

    My prayers and Best wishes to Hillary and I urge all Americans (black, white, oriental, hispanic) to support Clinton because they will never regret their votes. We did it in NH. NH understands that it is issues, not body language, which stands out in this campaign and Hillary is all about issues. Listen to her carefully instead of cheering at her and you will understand just like the people of NH did – the issues matter.

    January 10, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. Jeff

    Why must CNN run a negative story about Hillary EVERYDAY? They don't do that to anyone else. That's why I'm switching to MSNBC.

    January 10, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. Marque Snow

    Hillary Clinton is about the Economy, Healthcare, and Education. Obama doesn't come close; leave her alone. People scream no more Clinton, because they are a monarchy or something. Get real, Obama will not be ready for the republicans, nor will Edwards. Hillary Clinton shows that she likes Michigan enough to keep her name on the ballot. Question those politicians to pulled name off the ballot, not her, and I’m from Ohio.

    January 10, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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