February 13th, 2008
03:50 PM ET
13 years ago

Blitzer: 'Be careful what you wish for'


WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the world of politics, be careful what you wish for.

The politicians in Florida and Michigan thought that by moving up their primaries before Super Tuesday, they would exert greater influence on the nomination of their respective party’s presidential candidates. The Republican National Committee stripped those states of half of their delegates. The Democrats stripped those states of all of their delegates.

John McCain has a huge advantage right now in the Republican delegate count. That explains why there isn’t much buzz about what the Republicans did.

But it’s a very different story on the Democratic side.

Hillary Clinton “won” the Florida and Michigan contests even though she and her rivals promised not to campaign in those states. They didn’t. She did show up in Florida on the night of the primary to claim victory. She had a huge rally there.

The only names on the Democratic ballot in Michigan were those of Clinton and Dennis Kucinich. Barack Obama’s name was nowhere to be found there, though his name was on the Florida ballot. And with the candidates not allowed to campaign in either state, it wasn’t really much of an election - though Florida and Michigan Democrats certainly showed up in good faith to vote.

Now there are lots of background discussions and efforts underway to determine whether the millions of Democratic voters in those two states will actually be disenfranchised at the Democratic Convention in Denver at the end of August. That’s because the party’s nomination could come down to a floor vote.

If Clinton and Obama remain competitive after the March 4 contests in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, and the other remaining contests, including Pennsylvania's April vote, then it could come down to a brokered convention. Will the Florida and Michigan delegates be seated? There could be a huge and historic credentials fight, the first since 1972 when Democrats finally nominated George McGovern.

Here’s the irony: By moving up their contests, the Florida and Michigan Democrats wound up with exactly what they feared would happen to them if they waited until Super Tuesday. They became marginalized. Had they held their contests as originally scheduled, it potentially would have been very different. Let’s see if the problem can be fixed.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Theres no fixing this....they were stripped...thats the rules....and they broke them...and they are being punished...I'm happy to see that the majority of the Democrats are now seeing Hillary for what she is....and will never vote for her (along with the rest of the country)

    February 13, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  2. Mark

    To allow the Michigan and Florida delegates to be seated as matters stand would be corrupt and immoral; the only answer, in a true and democratic process (which all parties should uphold) is to hold new elections (it is what the US would ask of another country under the circumstances): April 8 or 15 would surely suit Michigan; and May 27 is free for Florida to give it the final decisive voice if matters last that long. That seems eminently reasonable.

    February 13, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. Charlotte

    This race will be determined by super delegates. The Obama supporters will not except the super delegates votes as legitimate, unless they are cast for Obama. We are in a real mess. I'd prefer to give them to him and let McCain be the next President, rather than have riots in the streets.

    February 13, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Gary

    It is unfortunate that Florida and Michigan are in this situation. It would be best if all States had representation in Denver. That being said everyone understands the rules of the process. There are 2 very different scenarios here, however. In Florida all the candidates names were on the ballot and though the candidates agreed not to campaign in the state, the voters had the opportunity to vote. Thus the process was fair to each candidate, not withstanding the equal opportunity to campaign. The key to Florida is John Edwards. If Edwards supports/endorses Obama then the delegate count for Florida would be almost dead even with Clinton and is neutralized. However the situation in Michigan is much more complicated. Why did Clinton allow her name to remain on the ballot when the other candidates chose not to ? The only way to rectify Michigan is to have a re-do caucus format. Given the recent surge by Obama, this may benefit him from the original January vote. That being said if Michigan would have conducted their primary has the DNC wished perhaps it would have had the same effect. So, allow Florida to be seated, as is and re-do Michigan.

    February 13, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Jack

    Its become obvious that the voters in these states were not aware of the rule change. Regardless, there votes should count as they stand. The playing field was fair. In MI, Obama supporters did campaign and urge its supporters to vote non-committed.

    If Florida and Michigan votes are not allowed to stand, and the delgates seated, the dems will lose those states in November. And no, this is not Hillary Clinton's fault. She followed all the rules and her win in those states is legit.

    February 13, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. FLA

    FLA – FlA delgates should NOT be seated unless there is a fresh primary/caucus.

    Clinton was a much better known candidate. Who know what the result would have been had Obama campaigned there? We know that he does better when he spends time with the electorate.

    February 13, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Tony, Wilton, ME

    If the candidates go into the convention essentially tied and the DNC gives in to the Clinton demands to seat "Hillary's delegates" from Michigan and Florida, McCain can start ordering a new carpet for the Oval Office.

    The Democratic Party, of which I've been a member since 1959, will be shredded. The McGovern defeat will look like a victory by comparison.

    February 13, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Lesley P.

    Now tha Obama is in the "lead", I hope you give him the same scrutiny and critism that you have been giving Hillary since this whole process began. When are you going to start looking into his record and lack of experience? He's not running for PTA President–this is the future of our country! It scares me to death that he may be the next President of the United States!!

    February 13, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. Alecki

    The country has to count these votes. Period.

    February 13, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. dash

    Florida and Michigan gave their verdict..people did not vote out of fun or that they did not have anything else to do. It was real voting by real people..No one campaigned, no ads except Obama, ...It's very pity that candidates like Obama, Edwards wants to raise money from those 2 states and do not want to upheld their clear verdict. The delegates should be seated without any re-primaries or caucuses..Because no single candidate has campaigned there and broke the rule..It's a rear verdict by real people.

    February 13, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. AJ

    Murry posted: "Hillary's attempt to change the rules after the fact is deplorable"

    Whats deplorable is that people like you cant see what a disservice this action by the DNC has done to the voters of Michigan and Florida. The voters of those two states have nothing to do with setting the primary calander, yet it is the voters who are being punished. And stop trying to make Obama out to be something he isnt. If the shoe were on the other foot he'd be screaming louder than Hillary. Probably throwing in the race card too.

    You Obamazombies are so awstruck by this con man it's pitiful.

    February 13, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Roger

    I find it interesting that Barack Obama is raising alot of hub-bub over superdelegates and is trying to say they should have to vote along the lines of the way the state went they represent. He also says FL & MI should not count they broke the rules. So on one hand he wants to change the super delegate rules to benefit him but hold true to the rules of FL & MI because they would benefit Hillary Clinton. You can't have it both ways. FL & MI must be seated for the party's sake. There is no way Democrats can win in November with out them. From what I have read the state and local supporters of the candidates campagined plenty for their candidate. Also theres the Internet and cable so don't tell me they did not get to know the candidates. Seat the delegates.

    February 13, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Emily

    Hillary Clinton's "win" in MIchigan is not legit! She kept her name on the ballot to do exactly this... win when many Obama supporters didn't bother to vote (or voted republican) because he wasn't on the ballot, and then get those delegates counted. She would NOT have won Michigan otherwise! Her underhanded tactics just display for all to see that a vote for Hillary is a vote for things to stay as they are... partisan and stagnant!

    February 13, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Since CNN has more or less decided the outcome of all political events before it took place, my friends and relatives have decided voting is a waste of good time.
    We will let you pick the winner this time.

    February 13, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. JOE






    February 13, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Kyle

    Unfortunately, this debate resembles a neighborhood football game, where each teams sees the "rules" through the visage of how they can win. Its like letting the teams be the referees. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in Hillary putting up a negative ad in WI about Obama denying the voters there a chance to see them debate and the fact that she's more than willing to take the votes of MI and FL where the voters were denied any campaign? It just looks like she's breaking the rules and changing them as she goes along whenever it benefits her.

    February 13, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. PeterO

    If Hillary had lost those states would she really want them counted? Really, come on Hillary. Fair is Fair.

    There is no way for Clinton to win the general election at this point unless she somehow steals the nomination and then McCain keels over.

    She should wait for another few states and then concede gracefully.

    February 13, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. CB

    FLA and Mich should blame their state officials for this mess. Rules are rules. Sorry–make it up in Nov

    February 13, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. Alicia, Florida

    Hillary Clinton did not break the rules. She did NOT campaign in Florida. BOTH Clinton and Obama's names were on the ballot, NEITHER directly camapigned, Obama had national ads that ran in Florida, and there was an unprecedented voter turn out. All canidates were on an equal playing field. To say that Hillary Clinton had an advantage because of her name recognition is ridiculous. Florida voters read the newspaper, watch CNN, watch the debates, and are very politically aware. The primary was held on January 29, 2008 – not 6 months ago. We know about Obama and the issues he stands for.

    Florida Democrats should not be punished because the Repulican run state legislature moved the primary date. For our party to do this to its members is unacceptable!

    To suggest that we ignore the will of the thousands of voters that came out to vote on January 29th in favor of a new caucus is equally as absurd. A caucus is not truly representative of what the voters want. Only those that can get the day off and find a baby-sitter for 6-8 hours can actaully participate. Many of the individuals that already cast their votes will not be able to participate in such a process. They will be left out of the process.

    February 13, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. Kurt

    Michigan and Florida cannot be seated. I hate to write this, as I live in Michigan, but if the candidates were not allowed to campaign or even have their names on the ballot (in Michigan's case) it is not a fair process. Have any anger directed to Michigan's Democratic party or the Republican State Houses in Florida.

    February 13, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. Regular Gonzalez

    I think the Democratic Pary should change its name to the Orwellian Democratic Party.

    And the Republican party should just go ahead and change its name to Big Brother.

    But, of course, no Orwellian entity would ever admit to being Orwellian. The proles might start getting ideas.

    February 13, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. IranSuffer

    The DNC rule is candidates should not campaign. If a candidate gets more votes without his / her personal appeal then it up to the people of states.
    By the way, this is real problem with phony people ( height of spinning and clearly lack of telling the truth) how people are fooled.

    February 13, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. km

    The DNC should not have to pay. The states broke the rules, if they want to be heard, let their local party foot the cost of a re-vote. The ballots should match the candidates who would have been on the ticket on the day of their originally scheduled vote.

    February 13, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. California Independent

    Florida, Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina all violated the same rule. The proposed penalty is to strip half the delegates.

    Florida and Michigan loose all delegates. Iowa, New Hamphire and South Carolina moved their primaries after the decision on Florida and Michigan and a decision regarding the 3 states is still pending.

    Way to go DNC.

    February 13, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. Jeff an Independent

    Rules are rules and cannot be changed after the fact. If this is all about making sure everyone is represented, then why not go back and claim that the results of caucus states should be thrown out because only 'activists' attended, or that the results in states that had snowstorms should be thrown out because only those who could get to the polls voted. Ya makes the rules, ya plays the game, ya lives with the results – like them or not.

    Jeff Sorenson, South Dakota – one of EIGHT states which votes AFTER PENNSYLVANIA, but is never mentioned in these conversations

    February 13, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
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