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. Sean McM

    It is astounding that the party of "inclusion:, the Democrats would penalize Florida and Michigan voters for a dispute with the State organizations. Voters lose!

    It is equally appalling, but not surprising, that the Republic State Chair in Washington decided to stop counting votes prematurely. Republicans have learned imperialism well from King Gworge!!!!!
    Again, voters lose!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  2. Sam

    Is CNN part of Obama’s campaign???? ..............'Be careful what you wish for'

    February 13, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  3. Rebekah Filson

    Every time there is an election people choose to vote or not. The reasons they choose to vote or not to vote are ultimately irrelevent. Just because some Florida voters decided not to vote because they figured their vote didnt count (which is often a justification used by people in general elections as well) does not negate the ultimate outcome.

    The people in Florida voted and that vote should stand. If you dont vote you cant be part of the process, no matter what election it is.

    I agree that the people of Florida should not be punished because the legislature made a decision about when they made their choice.

    February 13, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  4. j_olivarez

    Florida needs to stop messing up elections.

    February 13, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. Johnny Depp

    Let us not forget there is always the exception to the rules, and besides there not really rules, sort of guidelines, as it were,

    February 13, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  6. John

    Man doesn't anyone get this?

    It's not that hard. I live in Michigan.

    Our state parties are idiots and because of them we were deprived of a vote that counted. Don't blame the DNC-the rules have always been there and no one has had a problem before. It is our state parties that are to blame for disenfranchising us.

    However, simply letting our delegates count will NOT re-enfranchise us!!!!! Being enfranchised means having the right to a fair and proper vote. The vote in Michigan is neither. Hillary Clinton's was the only name in the ballot, and yet only beat a vague "uncommitted" candidate by a small margin. With many friends here who would have voted for Obama I can tell you – most of his supporters didn't show up since he wasn't on the ballot and no delegates were to be awarded. He would have won in a landslide in a real election.

    As far as Florida, how can anyone argue that in a race with a well-known candidate vs. a candidate who has proven he has to campaign rigorously to introduce himself to the people, that neither campaigning is fair? Of course it's not!!!

    If our votes do not count at the convention, don't be surprised if Michigan and Florida both go Republican in the general. However, if our votes are counted without a revote, expect a split in the Democratic party that will never be repaired.


    February 13, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. Allan Camden, SC

    The rules were made, and the time to change horses was BEFORE the votes were cast, not after the fact. Of COURSE Hillary wants to change horses.
    Has anyone thought of allowing the Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated after the first ballot, when neither they nor anyone else would be bound by primary results? That seems as fair as holding another primary, and a lot less expensive. Since state officials insisted on trying to bend the rules, the disenfranchised voters should blame them rather than point fingers elsewhere.

    February 13, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  8. Jenny

    I voted in Michigan and feel that my vote should count. If Obama chose to take his name off, so be it. He made his choice. Also, people in Michigan were told to vote "Uncommited" if they supported Obama or Edwards. Hillary won. She should get both Michigan's and Florida's delegates.

    February 13, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. pete ft worth tx

    This just shows how dumb Democrats and Republicans are. Let's see, you have a country based on free and fair elections, so you hold an election called a primary. The idea is to gather delegates to your party's convention so you can elect your nominee. THEN your dumb party bosses, in a fit of pique, decide to strip your American rights from you. Your delegates no longer count, so you have no representation in the most important election in this century. THAT's AMERICAN???????? At least Putin's guy was elected.

    Oh, yeah, this just proves the DEMOCRATS are TWICE as stupid as the REPUBLICANS who only deducted half the delegates from their states. HOW STUPID. And we have no choice but to sit under their control. As Yakov would say.... "what a country".

    February 13, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. Kay

    Florida and Michigan should be counted. The citizens are entitled to it.

    February 13, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  11. bob smith

    I am following the results closely, but do not see CNN tracking the actual votes as opposed to delegates. Just a few short years ago, all the talk was about popular vote versus delegates. What is the actual popular vote in the Dem race so far?

    Sure, include Florida and Michigan – they do vote in November as I recall.

    February 13, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. Sordid Euphemism

    Alison said:
    "The point needs to be made that the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature made the decision for all of Florida to move up the primary date..."

    Get your facts straight. Check the vote records. This was, by no means, a Republican forced event – the Democrats voted for this as well!

    February 13, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  13. Grif

    Get this wrong1 ASnd you become the: "Super Puffin" ot the World.

    Ceditability!!! For your Kids. For your Toto's. Or along comes another. Dictator, to my # 1/ democracy, And you let them do it. Infront of all these Kid's you programed; before 2001.... For! Nope, not another GOD! KIds. Toto's, even in Kenya. Where your Super Idiot, say's is this a part of , another Legacy...

    Wake up America. Remember 1944,. Wake Up Germany! Or just another, Wake for your Kids... Get it Right!!! Close Encounters of a Third Kind...

    And your Plane's get buzzed, by Russia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Airwave's? I had enough in the 60's, of the past Century.

    February 13, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  14. chris

    A contest is NOT a contest if only your name is on the ballot. I am a disenfranchised Michigander because the state decided to move the date up in the hope of showing support to Hillary in the early days. Now, the national party SHOULD NOT SEAT any delegate because we were told by them that our votes would not count. How fair is it is you just took the result of a one-person contest?? Many of us will try to ensure MI goes republican in November if the national party does not honor us and our votes. We will remain loyal as long as the other side play by the same rules.

    February 13, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  15. Annie

    The decision will not be determined by the courts for sure. The courts have always upheld that the political parties have the right to set their own rules. Hillary would be fighting just as hard to keep the delegates from being seated, if she had lost the Florida and Michigan primaries, so for someone to think that she is the only person that cares about their vote is wrong. The only thing she cares about is winning.

    Florida and Michigan have no right to blame the DNC. The DNC set the rules before the primary dates were selected. The Florida and Michigan state Democrat party officials broke the rules. The Florida party had the option to hold its own primary but refused to due to the cost. So saying that the Republicans set the date is not true. If they are now allowed to seat their delegates it will be pure war within the party.

    The Super Delegates will not allow that to happen. The states will either have to have new elections or caucuses within those states, or the Super Delegates will swing the delegate count to the one that has the most pledged delegates to end the debate.

    I am betting that at the end of the Texas and Ohio primary, that the one with the least delegates will concede the race. Neither one will want the other options availabe to occur. That is why the Clinton camp is sending out messages that it is do or die in those states.

    February 13, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  16. Matt

    Self-disclosure: I'm a conservative Republican, and I voted for Romney in my state's primary. I would never vote for Huckabee or Clinton in a general election. Currently, I'm not sure whether I'd prefer McCain or Obama–there are big downsides to both, I think.

    If the Democrats want to seat delegates from those states, it should be done after a re-vote. Knowing one's vote won't count had an impact on who voted, so it is folly to believe that the results that were recorded were representative of the will of the voters in those two states. This would be the best alternative.

    It would be acceptable, but far short of ideal, to not seat delegates at all. The worst alternative would be to pretend that those primaries were accurate gauges of the wishes of residents in those states.

    February 13, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  17. Johnnie L.Gonzalez

    People seem to forget where George Bush is from. Then throw Rick Perry into the mix. Texans have had enough of the Republican Party.
    The hispanics in this state have been a sleeping brown giant. Don't under estimate their strengh and struggle. Hillary will do just fine!

    February 13, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  18. FranX

    Wolf Blitzer say's "let's see if the problem can get fixed". WHY??? The democratic party got exactly what they wanted. So Wolf, like Gore is trying to say "all we want to do is count every vote for Hillary". Do you have a "lock box" Wolf?? Get real.

    February 13, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  19. Thomas Le Brun

    The votes should be counted no matter when the were cast.

    February 13, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. Uthea Romero

    Al Gore said they would make certain that all votes count. In great state of Florida all parties were represented on the ballots. Hillary won the state of Florida. It is only fair that those votes count. American see the news, the internet and everyone knows about the candidates. CNN has leaned toward Obama in this whole media display. Ask Al Gore what has happened to making the votes count. Florida should Count.

    February 13, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  21. Brian S.

    The candidates knew the MI and FL primaries were breaking the rules and would not count. They knew it, we knew it, period. Momentum changes throughout a campaign and a re-do wouldn't be fair to Clinton at this point in time. Be advised, I am a strong Obama supporter, but the way races go, and public opinion changes through a race, a re-do would not produce the same results months later, that's just the way it is.

    The rules were clearly spelled out that FL and MI were to be stripped of delegates, and those rules must be followed now. In Michigan, the thousands of people that voted on the GOP ticket instead of the Democrat ticket because they knew that the Democrat ticket was virtually meaningless should be able to vote for who they really want to win, right? Face it, it's a big f'n cluster right now and to be fair, we have to stick to the rules that the DNC themselves imposed BEFORE the primaries took place.

    The rules were known, and they have to stand at this point.

    CNN likes to stir the pot and create discussion, it's what gets ratings. The DNC just can't reinstate delegates now though.

    And to those people that say they are scared of a guy like Obama running the country with such little experience... Do we not remember the last 7 years? That guy could have the experience of 100 years or 2 minutes... he's a moron. It's about your policies and what you'd like to do to implement them. Also, the divide needs to be bridged in this country, and like it or not, Barack has a better chance of doing that than Hillary.

    Obama may not be able to reach across the aisle at all, but at least we can vote him in and see what happens. We know in advance that Hillary will polarize this country as much as Bush, as is already evident. Bush is a moron, causing polarity, and Hillary is just Hillary... but is a polarizing figure.

    We need a more unknown leader right now like Barack to at least ATTEMPT to unite some of the country again. We're in desperate need of it.

    February 13, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  22. Niky Ring

    Of course we can't just pretend this didn't happen. Whether or not those states should have had a say is moot; the DNC's action against them, right or wrong, made the contests effectively meaningless and radically removed them from fair competition. The proposed plan to seat their delegates 50/50 between Clinton and Obama is a nice gesture, but equally ludicrous. The vote didn't go that way, there's no guarantee it would have, Edwards was still in the race at the time, and it sets a poor precedent that is actually less democratic than the DNC's decision to exclude them.

    February 13, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  23. Josh

    There is no way that you can seat the delegates from Michigan or Florida. This is a Democratic party election, that they are allowed to set the rules for. They had decided, before the election that the delegates from Florida and Michigan would not be seated at the convention, end of story. For Hillary to suggest otherwise shows me that she has little intention of being any different in office than the current administration when it comes to breaking the rules because the odds 'need' to be tipped in her favor.

    I live in Michigan, and the media was not shy about letting us know our delegates would not be seated. I still voted, but many of my peers chose to vote in the republican primary, which sort of counted, or didn't vote at all. I'm sure the voters were similaraly disenfranchised in Florida, and neither vote was a true representation of the people's voice.

    If Hillary were really advocating voters rights, she would be calling for a revote in Michigan with all the candidates on the ballot, and a revote in Florida where the voters know exactly what is at stake.

    February 13, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  24. Georgia voter

    The early primaries, media influence, and the Democrats "special interests" have allowed the only Democrat candidate that could have won the Presidential election to drop out-–John Edwards could have easily beaten any Republican candidate. This election is right out of 1972.

    February 13, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  25. T Sillanpaa California

    "As a true and fair democratic person I want them to count because the voters are entitled to it..."
    The Democratic National Party, Hilary Clinton included, signed off on not seating the Florida and Michigan delegates. So, I guess what those who claim to be "fair democratic" folks believe is that the rules exist only as long as they serve everyone or hurt no one. In this case, the rules everyone agreed upon hurt Clinton ... so, the rules should be changed?

    No one seemed too concerned about the Michigan & Florida situations when it appeared that Clinton was holding on to frontrunner status and had returned to a safe perch as the almost certain nominee. Now, though, Clinton supporters are acting as though they just now heard or read that those state's delegates were being denied the chance to support their candidate.

    Actually, I'm not proposing that Florida and Michigan voters not have their voices heard. I voted for Obama in California, but I think it would be fair for the states to hold some sort of vote to officially designate their delegates for the convention.

    There's just no way any state could plan and fund an emergency election, especially Florida given its history of botching long-planned elections.

    It would seem feasible to hold state caucuses, right?

    As an Obama supporter, I've got no opposition to scheduling caucuses in Michigan and Florida...to be held two weeks after the final currently scheduled primary.

    And, no, it wouldn't be anyone's fault if scheduling caucuses far enough in the future to make planning them even possible would favor the candidate with the most money who has, coincidentally, enjoyed success in caucus states.

    Whining won't help.

    Elections won't happen.

    Caucuses won't make anyone happy because Obama would have a bit of an advantage that would make it difficult for Clinton to sweep them as she did bogus primary elections.

    February 13, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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