February 8th, 2008
08:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Pelosi defends Democratic Party's superdelegates


Watch Nancy Pelosi discuss superdelegates.

(CNN) – In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, explained and defended the involvement of so-called “superdelegates” in picking her party’s presidential nominee.

Superdelegates were established, Pelosi explained, in order to allow grassroots Democratic activists to attend the nominating convention without having to compete with high-ranking Democratic party officials for a coveted spot on the convention floor. “So, again, I don’t think that members of Congress, governors and senators are not attuned to what’s happening in their states and in their districts,” said Pelosi.

Asked by Blitzer whether she would be troubled by a brokered Democratic convention where superdelegates tipped the ballots in favor of either Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama, Pelosi defended her party’s system. “These superdelegates are all part of their state delegation, so that state will speak,” Pelosi said, when its delegation participates in the convention. The superdelegates “work out their preference working with the people of their state,” she added.

Pelosi refused to weigh in on talk of a Democratic “dream ticket” involving both Clinton and Obama but she did note that roughly 15 million Americans voted for either Clinton or Obama on Super Tuesday. “The vitality of these two campaigns is attracting so many people,” said Pelosi.

Programming note: Watch Wolf Blitzer’s entire interview with Pelosi on Late Edition this Sunday beginning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time.

–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

Related: Democrats dread drawn-out, costly campaign

Filed under: Nancy Pelosi • superdelegates • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. arthurW from Virginia

    Nice Spin Nancy, but you could have had these superD folks be the delegates to represent the primary results, i.e., the votes of the people. The clear reality is that the old establishment in the Dem party just doesn't trust upstarts or the voice of the people if they happen to get behind an unexpected candidate who may not cow tail to the old democratic oligarchy. If this goes to the convention without resolution, and Hilary wins because she can call in favors from the Dem party, you-all will LOOSE the support and participation of many that Obama has energized and excited.

    February 8, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. Xavier, Washington, DC

    Is Speaker Pelosi suggesting that superdelegates should fall in line with how their states vote? If so, that's bad news for Hildog.

    February 8, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would have hoped that this idea would have been explained better. There needs to be an explanation as to why the delegation from one state isn't voting in the convention as the state voted in the primary or caucus.

    February 8, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. Jay

    Let's get real. I am a registered Democrat but superdelegates were created to allow the DNC to effectively override the popular vote if they didn't like the candidate that the people chose. If they vote with the will of their constituents, than why do they even exist?

    I think the incredible blinking Pelosi is great, but she is spinning here. 800 superdelegates are way too much, especially when you need 2000 to get the nomination. The DNC needs to limit superdelegates to ELECTED officials, who will then have the responsibility of explaining their vote against what the people have explicitly expressed. A sound explanation will most likely be acceptable to most. An unsound explanation (e.g. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the Clintons, so I have to give them my vote"), and voters can tell their superdelegates exactly what they thought of their vote in the next election.

    February 8, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Sammie

    I am an Obama fan, like many i participated in this elections for only one reason "CHANGE" and i believe only Obama can bring about REAL CHANGE.

    If super delegates give the nomination to Hillary, not only would i
    NOT vote for Hillary, but i would loose all interest in politics again, like most people my age, Obama reintroduced us to what is good about politics.

    I can imagine there are lots of young voters like me, that we only got interested in politics again because of Obama, and we wont vote Hillary cause she and McCain are old news.

    Why hasnt Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and the DNC gotten the message.
    We dont want Clinton, We dont want McCain, We Want Change we want Obama.
    Clintons has already lead this country for 8 years, give someone else a chance. Obama represents the Future for us, Not Hillary, Not Bill and most certainly Not McCain.

    Come on People.

    February 8, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. unfinished1

    What a pathetic defense for the indefensible – Essentially Speaker Pelosi is saying that this is all about someone being able to attend a Convention – how shallow is that? But the reality is that the Democratic leadership has determined that one vote isn't enough for the powerful. This is sad.

    February 8, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. PH in OK

    Why are all you Obama people so upset about SuperDelegates. If Obama is the great orator that you say he is...why doesn't he just talk his way into getting the votes?

    February 8, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. Change we can all believe in

    Two thumbs up, Sammie...There is nothing left to say...

    Obama 08

    February 8, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. sheb

    One thing I realize from most of these comments already is that people are scared that the delegates will over rule thier vote for Obama and vote for Hillary . I don't think that is a bad idea. All Obama is giving you is inspirational messages. How does that compare with someone who has the knowledge and understanding to get America back at #1 STANDING! OBAMA DOES NOTHING BUT TAKE HILLARY CLINTON'S IDEAS and project them as his own. He only comes up with ideas after she has proposed them. That's why people see no difference in their positions, because he takes all of her ideas. If you would look back at the records instead of getting caught up in what feels good and sounds good at the moment you would see that he is all talk and no action! And I even venture to say that is why the republicans keep saying we want Hillary to win because they actually want you to vote for Obama because they know they will eat him alive! Pay attention and research why you are voting for who you are and please make sure its because they have proven they can do the job and not because of race or inspirational talk!

    February 8, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. Kin

    Keep whining, Obama fans. Superdelegates are a staple of both parties.

    February 8, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Lilia, from MD

    I agree, this DNC process is very confusing. Now I understand the bulnerability of democracy. No wander why other countries in the world laugh when we try to promote democracy in their country.


    February 8, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. pbj

    Nice try, Nancy. Superdelegates exist to override the results of the primaries if the powers that be disagree with what the rank and file have done, plain and simple. Go back to being the least effective Speaker of the House ever; leave the sophistry to others.

    February 8, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Brad, Obamaha NE

    so Scheb – where was hillary's "idea" that the iraq war was bad choice?

    cuz i'm pretty sure she voted for it – a year after barack stood up and spoke out against it.

    who is leading? and who is following? and who is folding under the weight of the voice of the american people?

    answer sheet:

    Barack. Hillary. Hillary.

    Obama 08

    February 8, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |

    The history of super-delegates is not pretty. It harks back to the days when "party bosses" in closed roomes "picked" their parties nominee. When people complained loudly about this, a delegate system was negotiated. As a compromise, to get party boss support, "super delegates" were brought into the equation, who technically have the option to vote for whomever they please. Super-delegates are an anachonism, an old dinosaur, that needs to be done away with. They are surely against what the framers of our Constitution would have supported, and clearly not appreciated by "we the people". If you think SD's are not skewed, look at the regular "pledged" delegat count, where Obama leads by a few, and the super-delegate count, where Clinton leads almost two-to-one. The nuts and bolts of super-delegates would make an excellent CNN feature story. Not a side bar, a front and center feature.

    February 8, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Peace

    I hope the superdelegates will keep in mind what suits the Party best, e.g. survival, prosperity, and mainly what will bring us to win the election. Please be wise and do not commit Political Sucidal to the Party.

    February 8, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. stuart in l.a.

    Sammie- do you not realize our country is on the brink? Can you not see the signs? Hillary is undoubtedly the better choice to get us back on track at this point in time. Would it be so bad for Obama to wait 4 or 8 years to become president, which would ensure that the Democrats have 16 years of control? I'm afraid Obama would be torn up by the Republican smear machine if he wins the nomination, whereas Hillary has clearyl weathered their attacks year after year, and not only survived but flourished. They are afraid of her now. Change is good, but let's get the country back on track first and then look at ways to change.

    February 8, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. John in Charlotte

    If the super delegates tried to override what the people voted for there would be a riot on the democratic side.

    Obama can beat McCain and Hillary can't, look at the head to head polls in Time this week. Hillary cannot bring in independents and Republicans the way that Obama can.

    Yes We Can
    Obama 08

    February 8, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. John

    PH, sheb, etc.:

    While you are right I am scared that superdelegates will take away the victory from Obama, that is not my real motive. I am perfectly willing to get rid of the superdelegates or tell them they must vote with their state, and see what happens. I am not willing to be told my vote did not matter. That's what superdelegates do. If Hillary is elected by the people, so be it. But if Obama wins and then they give it to her, that is not Democracy.

    February 8, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Jim

    The word is "lose" not "loose". I'll put it in a sentence for you...."Obama will lose because he has no experience and is simply hoodwinking inexperience voters." Get out of college and learn how to spell.

    February 8, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. RP

    If Obama is favored by the well-educated demographics, what does that say about the superdelegates voting for Clinton? Just asking...

    February 8, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Carol, Pittsburgh, PA

    This appears to be old party politics at work - anything to negate the voice of the people. This had better not be the case. I hope Mz. Pelosi knows that the people will not stand for the machine standing in the way of the peoples' choice! If this is the case, I may never vote again if it means my vote will be decided by some hack politicians who want their own way and are willing to spin my vote. Uh-uh!

    February 8, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Julie-Albuquerque

    I strongly agree with CNN Political Analyst, Donna Brazile, and her fear of allowing 795 superdelegates to pick the next Democratic presidential nominee. The idea that each superdelegate will work alongside the wishes of the people in their own state is baloney pure and simple. These so-called superdelegates are human being – they have already formed their own opinions, preferences, likes, and dislikes. When they vote, they will be voting as an individual, not as the whole of one state. It's scary that it might all come down to this. This kind of thing encourages the thinking of some people who don't vote because in the end, our votes don't really count.

    February 8, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Against the Cult

    It doesnt matter, the charisma following has destroyed the prospects of a united democratic election. When the republicans win the election in November, the democratic party will regret the division they have caused with their shameless endorsements all spun by the media.

    February 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. Sarah augusta ga

    I AM SORRY HUCKABEE BUT YOU ARE A RETARD! COM ON MAN ROMNEY ONLY DROPPED OUT BECAUSE HE THOUGH IT BEST FOR US. U R GOING TO RUIN THE US OOH YOU GOT SERVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Mick

    To all you young voters, change is great and so is Obama, but if it works don't fix it . You are to young to look back at the 90's, believe me I would take much more of those times then to have Change....Clinton first to lead us back to a Super Power then Obama for your change.

    Hillary 09

    February 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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