March 5th, 2008
02:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Dems weigh lengthy fight to nomination

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Democrats settled in Wednesday for an extended fight to the presidential nomination after Tuesday's primaries failed to produce a clear frontrunner, while at least one Democratic leader urged party officials to let the electoral process take its course.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said now is not the time for party officials to wade into the fight over the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I think the electoral process has to work its way," she told reporters. "There are still many voters unheard from yet, and I think that our candidates both have the capacity to inspire, to bring out a big vote that will hold us in good stead in November, and I think that now is not the time for anybody to weigh in."

Many party officials are superdelegates, but Pelosi aides said that the speaker was cautioning party officials against pushing for a quick end to the nomination process rather than warning any who are superdelegates not to commit to a candidate.

Pelosi said she is confident the nominee will be decided before the Democratic convention in August.

She said she was "never among those who believed this would be resolved by now," and argued that the prolonged campaign is good for the party, offering Democrats a chance to "make a clear distinction" about their differences with Republicans on a range of issues.

She pointed to Iraq, noting the Democratic candidates are talking about "responsible redeployment versus a 100-year-war that Senator McCain has spoken about."

She was referring to McCain's comment that even after fighting ends, U.S. troops might remain in Iraq for up to 100 years, just as U.S. troops have remained in South Korea for more than half a century after the fighting there stopped.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., also hammered McCain on Iraq, saying, "Under President Bush and with John McCain's support, America's economy has been hijacked by Iraq and our investment there."

Democratic senators joined Pelosi in appearing confident the party will unite behind the eventual nominee and being largely unconcerned about the prospects of a lengthy battle.

"I don't think it's a bad thing," said Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a former candidate who said the race is "far from over."

"At the end of the day we will unite to prevent another Republican from making it in the White House," he said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., agreed. "Most of us think that (Sen. John) McCain is nothing but a third term for (President) Bush," he said. "That in of itself should unite the party."

Other Senate Democrats said that so long as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama don't turn too negative against each other, the extended campaign could help whoever wins the nomination.

"We know the (Republican) attack machine is going to go after them in the general election. So to have the strongest candidate battle-tested is a good thing," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a Clinton supporter. "Obviously we don't want the fighting to get too sharp-edged, but so far so good."

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., an Obama supporter, said a lot of people are "wringing their hands" like Hamlet. But he called that "premature."

"Competition is good," he said. "All the media attention, until whatever date this is over, will be about Obama-Clinton and Sen. McCain is standing on the side saying, 'what about me?'"

But one Democratic senator, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, said she is already concerned the campaign has become too nasty.

"I just think we're going to have to be very careful that these two candidates don't tear each other apart because both are worthy, worthy people and would make excellent presidents," she said. "I was concerned about what we saw in the last week."

Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., said a lengthy fight for the nomination has the potential to divide the party, but he said he is confident Obama and Clinton will be "as professional as possible."

Tester said he has yet to endorse a candidate. He said he will base his decision in part on the popular vote from the June Montana primary, but will also weigh who he thinks has the best chance to beat McCain in the general election.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., argued Clinton is the best for the general election because she has done so well with Latino voters and has won key big states.

"I don't know how it is possible to win the general election if you cannot win in the Southwest, if you can't win Ohio, places like Florida," he said. "These are the key places to win the electoral vote."

–CNN Congressional Producers Deirdre Walsh, Ted Barrett and Kate Bolduan

(updated 6 p.m. ET with additional reporting)

Filed under: Congress • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (358 Responses)
  1. Manuel TX

    Don't suppress the voters from MI and FL.

    Count all votes.

    Either revote both or count FL and revote MI. 🙂

    March 5, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. Adam, LV, NV

    Sounds like the party want's this to end, and want's the superdelegates to decide it, one way or the other....

    Look for a round of crazy endorsments the next few days... Probably including Edwards and Richardson. Though why has Pelosi not opened her mouth yet.

    March 5, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. Jeremy

    Yes. It is time for Obama to bow out. Thank you. Stop your cult slogan "Yes, we can!".

    "Yes, we can!""Yes, we can!""Yes, we can!""Yes, we can!""Yes, we can!".... But HOW can you?

    March 5, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. Brian

    I'm glad the Rep. Pelosi has finally spoken on the issue. She has basically called the superdelegates to the carpet – "go with your constituency or it will damage the party."

    March 5, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. Paul


    You are the best candidate we have, and having Mr. Obama as your VP will train him to be President of America in the years to come.

    Hillary 08,

    Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island you showed America that you stand with her and believe in our party!


    March 5, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. sandi

    So I guess that means the superdelegates are off the table as well...

    March 5, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. vanchava

    I believe so too. Unless Clinton wins by landslides the superdelegates will flock to Obama aide. I think we all know whats at stake here. TODAY ONLY, OBAMA HAS ALREADY GAINED 3 SUPERDELEGATES

    March 5, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Democrats...

    Right on...........everyone should be able to vote BEFORE super-delegates announce their choices. I wonder how Senator Kennedy feels that his state did not support his choice?

    March 5, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Randi

    I think that this should go to convention. Obama supporters keep saying that the math is not adding for her to be the candidate, so she should get out. They seem to forget that he won't get enough delegates either!!!!! So, it seems that they are afraid to let her make it to the convention, because they know she can beat him in the end.

    GO HILLARY!!!!!

    March 5, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. Sis

    I certainly hope it is not Hillary. Voters needs to know that real change is not a Clinton in a pantsuit.

    March 5, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. jessica




    March 5, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. LeAnn

    Mathematically, Hilary CAN'T win! And if the super delegates step in and steal the nomination from Obama, I guarantee you...
    Meaning... Democrats will leave the party and go elsewhere! (Independent or Republican... but no one wants a third term of BUSH... so it will most likely be independent)
    Don't believe me?!

    Just wait and see.... we are already geared up and ready to go!

    March 5, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. California Independent

    What is she talking about? Her guy supposedly has a bunch of supers to trot out as soon as he can show a couple more wins. He would have done it today, but the wins weren't there. He will do it when he takes Mississippi in an effort to slow her before Penn. Maybe she is just trying to stop anyone for declaring for Clinton.

    Why are some Democratic leaders complaining about a long drawn out process when they are the ones that scheduled a long drawn out process? If they didn't want primaries in June, why schedule them. They need to shut up and let the voters vote.

    March 5, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. ZedLoch

    This voice of moderation and conciliation needs to get stronger before the democratic party rips itself in half. Is 5 months enough to repair the damage Obama and Clinton could do to each other in the next 4 months?

    March 5, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. parkviewer

    10,000 people a day switched from Clinton to Obama in Texas and Ohio. Why all the fuss about shared ticket and time for superdelegates to weigh in – Clinton is scared that by the time Penn rolls around there will be no more support for her or her Rovian tactics.

    March 5, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Groucho

    Hillary's net gain on her "big win" night ... 12 DELEGATES TOPS ... straight from AP !! That balloon sure deflated in a hurry !

    March 5, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. J.J.

    kindly let the wish of the people prevail...Maddam Speaker thank you for restating what we all have been saying... "IT'S THE PEOPLE STUPID"

    March 5, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. Mike Tacoma, wa

    Once again Pelosi opens her mouth and shows her ignorance on subjects. McCain was not calling for a 100-year war like what is going on right now in RIaq but a tropp presence like what is in Korea, Germany, England, Iceland, and many other coutnries where we have military bases.

    March 5, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Carla

    Goodness, Pelosi is terribly blind to reality–no wonder our Congress has been so useless the last couple of years. This race is driving the Obama and Clinton camps as far apart as could be. For support of this conclusion, see ANY of the comments pages on any of these websites to see just how much hatred is being spewed...

    March 5, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Robert in NM

    I used to live in SF and I voted for Pelosi but I'm growing tired of her unwillingness to stand up as one of the most powerful women in the US Govt. and make a stance and let people know who she supports.

    March 5, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. adobea

    Obama 2008!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe that it was conservative Republicans crossing over to vote for Hillary that caused her to win! Because if hillary is the nominee, mccain will easily beat her.

    OBAMA OBAMA OBAMA 2008!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 5, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Edgar

    I am now convinced even more so that Pelosi is an idiot.

    This is tearing the Democratic party apart. I can no longer vote for Hillary after her recent negative efforts against Barack. And I volunteered for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

    Rather than party building, this is party squandering. I now have one foot out the door of a party that I never thought I'd leave.

    March 5, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. John - Spokane, WA

    HILLARY WILL WIN THE SUPERDELEGATE COUNT – As far as the Political experts go..... let me just say....... HA HA HA HA HA !!! LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL !!! Would you guys like some Salt and Pepper with your CROW this morning !!! HILLARY TOTALLY STOPPED OBAMA and she pulls clear from here – All it took was people to ask him questions and he fell apart at the seams !

    March 5, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Jenny

    Who is Pelosi?

    Do you delegate American people and democratic?

    Sounds like you are the god!

    2008 Hillary!

    March 5, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Adam - TX

    If Obama loses Penn, he needs to bow out for the sake of the party. It will be over for him regardless of delegate counts. Strategy needs to take precedent over the calculator. He credits the multiple "red" midwest states he has won primaries for, but he fails to carry critical democratic states and swing states necessary for the general election. To think otherwise is naive of any democratic voter who wishes to see the republicans out of the White House!

    March 5, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15