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. Brian Schneider

    I am a White Male Democrat, and if Clinton wins I will specifically go to the polls to vote for McCain.

    Hillary's response to the 3am call will probably be to cry like she did after she lost Iowa.

    If she can't satisfy one man, there's no way she can satisfy an entire nation.

    March 5, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. BK

    Neither Obama or Clinton can get to the magic number. Florida and Michigan votes should count. Obama removed his own name from the ballot in Michigan and told everyone to vote uncommitted. Rookie mistake!

    March 5, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. Bob G.

    For your Consideration:

    08 Mc Cain – Condi Rice
    12 Condi Rice – ?

    In 4 more years you get both for a Real President – a 100% Real Black and a 100% Real Woman!

    March 5, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Shane

    Reality Check people.

    Obama 1,321 Pledged: Seems like a pretty good Margin

    Hillary :1,186Pledged: It's Over Hillary

    March 5, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Amy, Ohio

    I certainly hope that there is a nominee before the convention, and I disagree with House Speaker Pelosi that a prolonged campaign is good for the party. Good grief, just read these posts. People are getting angry and mean. A year ago, I thought that the democrats were a shoe in to win the White House. Now, I'm not so sure. I personally will support whoever the democratic nominee is, because I don't want Bush, part 2...Will you??

    March 5, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. JB

    It amazes me that people keep saying Hillary can't win with pledged delegates... but neither can Obama. NEITHER of them can win the nomination outright before the Convention happens. The math is impossible on both sides.

    Why should she conceed when she won the popular vote in the Texas primary? 2.5 million people voted in that primary, and she won the majority. 100,000 people voted in the caucuses that Obama "won". The numbers demonstrate disparity – obviously this proves that the caucus states that Obama won came from the significant fact that Hillary's base is made up of people who have neither the time nor resources to go sit for hours in a caucus room.

    If you want the real voice of the people, go back to every single caucus state and hold a primary, where ALL of the people can vote. Then see how the numbers stack up. I think you will see a very different picture painted, and a different mathmatical formula for delegates in front of you.

    Pelosi had no business opening her mouth and saying what she did. The only thing that this prolonged contest will do is prove that Obama wants to say one thing and do another; he's already pledged to fight and push negatively back at Hillary, when his campaign is centered around "rising above" those kinds of politics. If he can't be true to the centric ideas of his campaign, what can we trust him to be true to?

    March 5, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. t- disapointed

    Its dissapointing to here on other blogs from people who were election judges that republicans were voting for hillary solely to extend the race even longer. Looks like the Rush got his zombies out to do his biding. Yet another reason this isnt going to help democrates. I cant believe it, the republicans are going to decide both nominations. I mean what incentives do republicans have to go to the ballot other than for the sole reason of disrupting the democratic election. Lets say clintons another, becasue of republican pseudo-republican support, then do the same for barack later. I think the contests before yesterday, unfortunately for democracy, shouldn't have as much weight in minds of voters and super delegates because of this. Again, if hillary had won outright from true support I would be fine with that, and say us barack supporters need to move on to later contests, unfortunately, this probably wont be an issue and is going to have serious repercussion down the road. Again, this means instead of democrats deciding our party's nominee we having the republicans decide their race and our. Go Figure huh?

    March 5, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. Mike

    Wag the dog.
    We must direct attention away from the Rezco trial and the Canadian Consulate.

    March 5, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. Josh

    Do NOT count Florida and Michigan votes! If the citizens of these states wanted their votes to count they should have pressed their state's party chairs to not move up their primaries and null their votes!

    Rules are rules and BOTH states knew what the results of their actions would be, but they decided to move up their primaries anyway, and now that they are being punished for it they want things to be differently. They knew going into it that moving up the primary would cost them and they chose to do it, so now they have to live with their choices.

    March 5, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. Democrat for Big Mac




    "I lost" because the press was critical of me.

    Welcome to the real world CRY BABY

    March 5, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Grace

    I have a suggestion about the pledged delegates of Michigan and Florida. the 2025 pledged delegates include Michigan and Florida states. Since those two states violates the DNC rules, the pledged delegates should NOT be counted and therefore the winning magic number should be 2025 subtracting the michigan pledged delegates and Florida pledged delegates. That should come to about 1659 (I think). And to be fair, we will still seat Michigan and Florida delegates in the convention with half of each states delegates to each candidates. So, Michigan and Florida voters are given the voice but the states outcomes will not affect the nomination. I think that would be quite fair.

    March 5, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Cat

    My heart is joyful after Hillary's win. I am life long democrat and I will NEVER vote for OBAMA.

    If he wins the nomination, I and my friends will not vote in the NOV election. I may even start a group and ask them to promise not to vote for OBAMA.

    Pelosi is right. ... It's funny that she was OK and now that she stated her view all has changed. I am sorry that people are so vicious and will not let others make their point. All these grown ups are acting like children.

    Florida's vote should count. All three candidates names were on that ballot. If not I would urge Florida to boycott the NOV vote.

    Michigan's vote should also count. One man One vote. A vote in this America should never go uncounted. That is suppose to be the American way.

    March 5, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Grif

    A long time ago there was a Dam, called "Ladie's Secret". Ask any Breeder of Horses. Same goes for Human's. When she's Hot, She is "Hot to the Trot"..... It's all in the Breeding!!!

    This Ladies Secret is, she ain't used the Whip. Yet!! She's Coasting.....

    March 5, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Mark - Gilbert, AZ

    "...I think that our candidates both have the capacity to inspire..."
    – Pelosi's original quote

    "I think Obama has the capacity to inspire and unite while Hillary has the capacity to win over voters thru propaganda and false accusations, low hitting blows, siding with John McCain, and claiming she is more experienced to answer the call at 3am when she's never even had to deal with that call yet".
    – Fixed!!!!!

    March 5, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. mjc

    if you are making your decision based on A COMMERCIAL.. you're a fool and should have your voting rights revoked.

    know the issues, fools.

    March 5, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. Tari

    enough about Michigan and Florida. How can anyone think it would be fair to count states that one candidate was not even on the ballot? Also why would a fair minded person even ask their party to do so? Oh I forgot her last name is Clinton!!


    March 5, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Billy J Austin,TX

    Come oooonnnn....
    What is so difficult for the dems to swallow about a Clinton/Obama ticket. Edwards was my first choice, but if I can't get a machine fighting dreamer, then I will settle for a fighter for the dem machine and a dreamer.

    Hillary cleans up house for 8 years as the scarred up political pitbull that she is, and Obama grows out of his puppy phase and runs the new economy/America for the next 8. That is 16 years to get this country back on track and in the black. C'mon folks!!!! let's do it!!!

    March 5, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. Charlotte

    At 70, I have been a lifelong Democrat. I strongly supported Obama, made my first financial contribution to a campaign, and have not worked on a campaign since that of Robert Kennedy.
    You raised the issue of national security. I prefer Obama on that issue, but if I have to choose between you and McCain, I will vote for McCain. Also, I want an ethical candidate – and the CLINTONS sure do not qualify in that regard. So, win the Democratic nomination and watch the votes for McCain...including mine.

    March 5, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. Bob G.

    To Manuel Tx,

    Orale Vato! You are right on – Democrats cannot afford to slight the great people from Florida and Michigan.

    To be real fair:

    Revote the same way Florida and Michigan did it last time!

    NO campaigning, no commericials, no money spent – just a Pure informed educated or biased vote from the citizens.

    March 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. JB, Boston

    There is NO WAY Hillary can win on pledged delegates alone. In order for that to happen, she would have to win EVERY State with 75% of the vote. We know she won't do that so, what is she hoping for?

    The superdelegates to act on their own, and ignore the will of the people. This is just another example of how Hillary doesn't care about the people. She just wants power and she doesn't care how she gets it.

    March 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. Marcia, Erie, Colorado

    On McCain, for all the people who say he's too old: The "remaining life expectancy" for an American male who has already survived to age 71 is more than 10 years.

    I don't support him, but the odds of him surviving through at least ONE presidential term are pretty good.

    Just thought I'd toss that out.

    March 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. Tariq Ahmed

    Barak Obama will get most of the SUPERS waiting including President Carter.He is already in 3fig lead as of March 5th!!!
    as far as DELEGATES and pop votes.Hillary did nothing yesterday to blunt this.
    OBAMA-Sebelius ticket will win 2008.


    March 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. Paulette

    Yes Hillary can and will win and become the President of The United States of America. If Obama wants her to quit because she won't have enough delegates, guess what he won't either. So why doesn't he quit and let someone who has experience win. Why should she quit. Obama please quit, because you will not get my vote.

    March 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  24. mj

    How sad...! if was not for Hillary's husband, she will not be here. So, Is he coming after her when she is a president. To safe her.. dont get me wrong, I agree with him... not with her.
    I am a woman and I have my own opinion about self made, she is not!!. Sorry, she will never win against the republic party and if she get the nomination... not only me but several will prefer to vote for McCain. She is killing the democrats!.

    March 5, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  25. hkitty

    Since the other board was closed. Hey Obama, I don't care about Hillary's tax records, I care about mine!!! That is why I am hiring a Clinton to run the WH, not an underhanded land/NAFTA deal guy, like yourself. She really hasn't gone negative on you. She hasn't raised personal issues about you. She's questioned whether your right for the job in the WH because of your lack of experience. That is what happens to people that apply for jobs!!! Hello?!!!! I hope the Clintons unload on you like you have never seen before. You think this is tough, just wait. You won't even be able to win a re-election bid in Illinois, even if it is uncontested again. Call some of the Chicago reporters they have some questions for you.

    PS All the "Hillary Supporters" that are posting as former Hillary supporters or so-called Hillary supporters that are challenging her, you are fakes just like your candidate!

    March 5, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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