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. the voice of Truth

    Cafferty should not be the third wheel when CNN wants to consult the punditry. He's more like an Andy Rooney type of character and should not be consulted on serious matters. His opinions seemed to be based on his personal biases, not on facts. Dump him before it's too late.

    February 13, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. JB Cali

    This is a joke. Clinton is getting very desperate.

    February 13, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Kyle

    Jack how can you call Hillary's win legit? Only her name was on the ballot. You must realize that most people are not political junkies like we who are on this board. There are studies that demonstrate that candidates whose name are higher on the ballot get more votes...so I can only imagine what impact not even having your name on the ballot would have. The FACT remains that both Michigan and Florida were not EQUAL elections, held openly and fairly as the other votes have been. The reason no one campaigned or had their name on the ballot(in some cases) was because they were told that they would not count...and many voters probably stayed home based on that representation. Only a hardened partisan would view those results as fair, complete or accurate.

    February 13, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. kevin from alaska

    You're right Wolf, Michigan and Florida squandered their power for an attempt at short-term political gain. No wonder they voted for Hillary.

    February 13, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. geminiano

    The Michigan and Florida delegates should be seated at the Democratic National Convention . Sen. Obama who preaches Uniting this country should show good faith , not to disinfranchise the 2 million democratic voters that voted in those primaries . Obama can not alienate those 2 millions voters , because no party can afford to lose both Michigan and Folrida in the General Election . In 2000 and 2004 , the Democrats lost Florida and in both elections the Democrats lost . Wake Up Democrats !

    February 13, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Heather Peterson

    I am from Michigan and I did not get the chance to vote for Obama, as he was not on the ballot. How was my voice heard? How is that fair? I have since just donated to his campaign in hopes that would have an affect elsewhere.

    February 13, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Bein Careful

    The world could truly be coming to an end. I find myself actually agreeing with Al Sharpton. Never would I have expected this! Sharpton is calling for the Michigan and Florida democratic delegates to not be seated (counted). On this point, the man is absolutely correct. If the DNC allows Michigan and Florida to count, the Democratic Party will be split apart at the seams. The only reason these two states would be seated is to hand the nomination to the shewitch. I am an independent Ohio voter who will declare dem on primary Tuesday in order to vote for Obama. He has my vote, but McCain does if Hillary is the dem nominee. Many of us feel this way.

    February 13, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. Boomer for Obama

    I disagree that Clinton did not campaign in Florida. She made a big deal about how she felt the Florida vote/delegates should count immediately before the vote and announced she would hold a rally on the evening after the voting took place.

    She purposefully took up their cause even though she had agreed to the rules when she thought she was inevitable and the late voters split in her favour.

    Pandering, slimey........

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

    Ask yourself this: If Obama had won those states, would Hillary be fighting this hard for the rights of "the voters?"

    February 13, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. David

    Thanks Gary..that's true...when Edwards endorses Obama that prettty much makes Obama and Clinton even in Fl.
    If I was Clinton I'd go for a re-vote to get a 65-35 split.

    February 13, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Michael White

    I was for Hillary Clinton at the beginning of this elections and even gave her my vote in Missouri. After following the ellections closely and listening to her and Obama's speeches and as an educated farm boy, I agree that Obama would do the country much good. I see honest promises and plans set forth to improve American's economy, Education System, Taxing Policies, Global Affairs and Health Care system. Hillary Clinton's speeches and online blog did not mention alot on how to execute her plans and promises but only attacks Obama's plans. It is unfortunate that my parents and grandparents think that because Obama is black they rwould rather vote for Hillary. I have tried to convince them otherwise but have not been able to succeed. My reccommendation to my fellow Americans is to do your homework and research before voting. Don't Just vote based on race because it may come back and bite us. If Hillary is the nominee against McCain I would suggest not to vote because either candidates would only bring disaster to the nation. The rich would not be affected but the poor would be poorer. Mccain is planning on fighting a war for a hundred years which would cost money and creates international hatred on Americans.

    February 13, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. Sherry in Kentucky

    How could the playing field be fair in Florida, people? Really? Hillary had all the name recognition. She had the fond memories of her husband in office in the 90's. . . . the Clinton name is a household name. Obama never had a chance in Florida because he was not able to truly introduce himself to the voters in Florida. That is why the Florida primary delegates should not be seated as is. If they want to count Florida, they should start all over with equal campaign time for each candidate.

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

    I am amazed by how much a person's bias toward one candidate or another can have such an influence on how they believe this situation should be handled. Even though I am a Clinton supporter and I know that she would benefit in having the FL and MI primaries count, I can't, with a clear conscience, hope to have the original decision reversed. These primaries were not fair to any of the candidates in that their supporters made a decision of whether or not to vote while under the impression that their vote would not count. To give these states back their delegates without redoing the vote just wouldn't give an accurate picture of the desires of the populations in those states.

    No matter which candidate will benefit, I hope the final decision will lead to a course of action that ultimately will best represent what the votes of the people in FL and MI would have been, had there been a fair primary in the first place. I agree with Mark, new elections seem like the ideal answer even though they are feasibly difficult.

    February 13, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Sean

    Wolf, You are the only balanced person on CNN. Eventually the votes in Florida and Michigan are going to have to be counted since they are both states that could serve to swing the election, that is of course unless Obama is so selfish enough to want to disenfranchise the voters there to win the primaries and lose to John McCain in the Fall. I love how the Obama supporters just go with whatever way the wind blows anyways, they just spew whatever one liners the Obama campaign throws to them. . .yes they can!

    February 13, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. stan pitts pa

    To everyone concerned about experience: according to the Constitution to be president you have to be: 35 years of age or older a Natural-born citizen, and have 14 years of residency. Funny none of that says anything about having to have "experience" and i don't think the founding fathers where dumb enough to leave that out if they thought it was crucial for a president to have.

    February 13, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Richard

    The DMC in Florida and Michigan did this onto the own voters. Somebody's got to pay the price, not the rest of the USA.

    February 13, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. Susie

    Wolf is almost right. No one campaigned in Florida except Obama, who ran national ads there. He, of course, is above criticism in most media outlets but let's be fair. Clinton got a HUGE number of voters supporting her in FL – she had to go and thank that group. She did NOT campaign or run ads there.

    February 13, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. Fred Toboggon

    Florida and Michigan were fully aware that they’d be penalized to some degree by the DNC for moving their contests ahead of January 5th and yet chose to go ahead and do so anyway. They are responsible for squandering their role in this election and shame on them for crying “disenfranchisement” to the rest of the country. I have no sympathy for either state. Their state legislatures voted for an earlier primary without any respect or patience towards our country’s election process.

    February 13, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Whitney

    The only fair solution is to hold elections again. Setting aside the fact that the DNC (the organization who Democratic presidential candidate will ultimately represent) ruled that Michigan and Florida would not be able to sit delegates before the elections occurred, it is clearly not fair to seat the Michigan delegates under any condition. Senator Obama was not on the ballot and it's as simple as that. How can one claim that the voters are being disenfranchised by not having their votes count when one proposes that those who voted for "none of the above" or did not vote at all did not get the chance to vote for their favored candidate.

    In regards to Florida, I still believe that elections must be held again or the delegates should not be seated. However, I understand why one would make the argument that no one campaigned in Florida and thus it was a level playing field. However, I must disagree. Senator Clinton's name recognition was astronomically higher in Florida than Senator Obama on January 29th. It is not fair to a lesser known candidate if he or she is not given the opportunity to introduce his or herself to the voters.

    Regardless, as a previous poster said, the rules are the rules. It is ludicrous and undemocratic that the DNC made this decision in the first place, but really the blame falls equally with the states in question and the DNC. The DNC should mandate that elections be held again. That is the only way it would be fair to both Senators Clinton and Obama and the people of Florida and Michigan.

    February 13, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. mws

    Nobody's "rights" to vote were taken away in the primaries. Primaries are PRIVATE enterprises, run by private organizations (DNC & RNC) utilizing funds both private and public (depending on just who currently holds power in state legislatures). No one was "disinfranchised" in Florida or Michigan because their primary delagates were stripped–this is not about voting rights in public election, but about the rules that a private organization has set up to govern its internal affairs. The fact that it all happens in the very public arena of politics is great entertainment fodder, but in the end is not about VOTER'S rights, but about MEMBERSHIP RULES in the respective parties.

    February 13, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  21. Charlotte

    Ophama supporters worried? They are afraid Florida will count and he will lose. His name was on the ballot and he was the only candidate to run ads.

    February 13, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Cindy


    You continue to perpetuate the LIE that Obama didn't run ads in Florida.

    Your network aired ads.

    Shameful, once again. CNN=Obama News Network, 2nd to MSNBC

    Yeah, disenfranchise the voters of Florida again.

    When are you going to stop the madness and report on Obama's record?

    February 13, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. shamous mc

    Not only all votes but every election should count!
    By telling MI & FL that their votes would not count, why would the residents even bother to go to the polls?
    In addition the people never got an opportunity to meet the candidates on their stumps. The results of those elections are dubious and highly questionable. In addition, they may have affected the result of the Republican primary in that Independents who could not vote for a desired democrat may had cast a ballot in the republican primary just to have their vote counted AT THAT TIME.

    Move the states to the back of the line and RE-DO their primaries.
    Give them their rightful chance to be meaningful and counted.

    February 13, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Larry

    What part of inexperience does Obama not understand? The DNC said the candidates couldn't campain in Michigan and Florida, it never said their names couldn't be on the ballot. I see the Obama campain seemed to get it in Florida! Lets see Clinton got 55% of the vote in Michigan and she should get 55% of the delegates and 40% of the voters voted " Uncommitted ", thats what we call Obama in Michigan UNCOMMITTED, and she should get that 40% of the delegates and the same in Florida. I hear all this talk of a new caucus in Michigan,,,,, whoa wait a minute, there are no " DO OVERS "

    February 13, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. constant

    Both states were warned to go by the rules. They chose not to.
    The candidates were told to go by the rules. Most of them did.
    Something we teach our Elementary school children to do. Follow the rules or suffer the consiquences!! It's relly simple people!!
    The "people" that made all those CHOICES to not followthe rules....were ADULTS....game over...take your ball and go home!

    February 13, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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