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. diane

    Superdelegates?? Better known as Kingmakers. Our fore fathers sure goofed on that one.. Lets do away with these. After all, so many choices are being taken away from the average american. And just for the record I'm proud to be an American.
    I'm proud of " MY COUNTRY" I don't need a Law degree from Harvard or Yale to know the home of the brave and the land of the free is the best place to be.

    March 5, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. LMDJ

    Hilliary supporters here's the issue. As a woman for Obama, I think the country would be best served to find a bonified woman candidate who is senator/governor/congresswoman on her own merits-rather than someone who used her influence as first lady to become a NY (not even in her own birth state of IL or AK) senator and now presidential candidate. Add the fact that she feels that this is her birthright and Barack should 'wait his turn'. Baloney.

    Also, sharing a bedroom with former president does not in my view count for experience. Women do not all think alike. Nor do they all just blindly vote for a woman because she is a woman. Women who support Obama know where he stand's on women's issue, family, etc. You just have to educate yourselves.

    Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton Haven't you had enough? What's next after HRC? Jeb Bush and Chelsea

    We need change. And real change is in no way Obama as VP but rather president.

    Obama 08'

    March 5, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. Yola

    Florida and Michigan should count – rember that

    Go Hillary Go

    March 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. Terrimac

    Jill, as you believe many Obama supporters would not support Clinton should she win the nomination...there are as many Clinton supporters who would not vote for Obama should he win. This campaign has become increasingly polarized, but I believe the ONLY way either candidate can claim the confidence of the democratic base is by letting the process go forward and letting ALL the people have their say, including MI and FL. If Obama or Clinton is forced out by the Party, those base supporters will lose faith. Once the people have spoken, hopefully the voters (even those who are disappointed) get behind the peoples' choice.

    March 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. hkitty

    Speaker Pelosi,

    Just make sure it's the Democratic voters who are speaking and not cross over Republicans who have been propping up Obama. That is the point for the Superdelegates to make sure the Dem nominee is truly a Democrat, representing the Democrat voters. The #s show that is actually Hillary!

    March 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. Tempe, AZ

    MI and FL should not count. Stick to the rules that were set and that all of you candidates agreed to. Now that Senator Clinton is behind in delegates, she wants those states to count even though she agreed with the DNC that they would not count, and not to campaign there! So, unfortunately, her lack of integrity on this fact sends out a clear message that she will do anything to win, even at the expense of the Democratic party!

    March 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. John in PA

    Carrie PA – I've got news for you, Pennsylvania is very much for Hillary, from Governor Rendell on down. BHO has no chance. Look for a double-digit beating just like in Ohio. And btw – please go to realclear and look at the newest poll for North Carolina. Before yesterday, BHO had a huge double digit lead. Today, it is within the margin of error. Talk about a comeback! The lady has the MO!

    March 5, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. Stacy Clarks, Texas


    OBAMA 08!!!!!!

    March 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. Tony, Powell, OH

    Mike from Tacoma:

    Dead on target; Pelosi's hatred for all things Republican causes her to say things that are stupid and inaccurate but still no doubt cause uninformed Democrats to get all a-dander.

    McCain was being realistic about having a stabilizing influence (potentially), NOT suggesting we be at war for 100 years. Good grief. Are you people that believe Pelosi the same ones that always talk about how "we don't hurl mud; we're Democrats! We let Republicans do that!". Try actually understanding what's actually being expressed (and realistically) vs. embracing hysterical conjecture that's put out purely to get you all riled up.

    March 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Pramod,NH

    How do you call yourself Democratic Nominee without winning CA,NY,NJ,MA,Ohio,FL,Michican,NM,Tennessee,TX????
    Call Obama for VP. Thats smart, makes sense.
    GO Hillary – Obama 08 !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Franky

    “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."

    To be honest, I agree. I think they should continue it and let EVERYBODY has a say. Hmmmmm, I gotta say, I think I said something like this yesterday. Interesting.........but I gotta say, let EVERYBODY say something before anything happens. As for the Super Delegates, I trust them, I actually had an opinion about it and I won't back down with it. Hey, is not my decision is theirs.....

    March 5, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. carl

    Obama still leading in delegates, so what's the panic for?? Texas is very close race everybody knows that.... My disappointment is how Obama campaigns allow Hillary to get away with negative and inaccurate ads--what a shame?
    I will sureLY vote for McCain if she becomes the norminee...

    March 5, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Peter

    My hats off to Mrs. Clinton on the so call "win" last night in Ohio and Texas. However, she still laging behind Obama on delagates. I was surprised to see a State like Ohio, almost 99% Union, voted for Clinton. While she was a member of the Board at Walmart, they refused to allow Unions. Im surprised that so many Hispanics still voted for Clinton, in Texas, even after blaming the Hispanic illegal immigration on taking jobs away from African Ameircans. This economy has taken away jobs from everyone. Blame it on Bush. Also in Florida, most of the Hispanics are Cuban, and it was Bill Clinton that signed the wet foot dry foot policy and still Cuban Voters voted for Clinton..yes it was Bill but as Hilary states, I supported my husband during his administration. Wake up America.

    March 5, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  14. Vet in S.A.

    I love the way Obama and Hillary haters bash each other out here, you are some hateful people just like your party!!

    March 5, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. Barock

    As an Obama support, I think I have something fair to say after last night:

    1. He is inexperienced. politically inexperienced. He and his campagne defintiely underestimated Hillary and overestimated public. He is in lead, He did not want to go negatively toe to toe with Hillary while hoping publics would not buy Hillary's dirty play. He was wrong, It is political arena, Jungle law rules!

    2. I don't think Obama and his campagne don;t have enough inteligence to bring on some issues he did this morning, such as where her experience comes from and her tax return,. they just think it was not necessary to do so, expecially when you are facing a woman. He was wrong again. It is not a regular woman, it is HRC who would do whatever she could to fulfill her ambition. The way she handled Bill's scandal proved how ambitious persoanlly she is.

    3. She is smart and she has gift in acting. No one questions her inteligence even anti-Hillary. Obama might think she is over and desparate. He iwas wrong again , again. She definitely is a fighter, a street fightter, Give her credit for this , though I don' t enjoy it.

    4. Hillary and Bill are sheer political machine., powerful machine. But , Obama, if you realy want to do someting for this country, it is the best challenge which you have to come over, otherwise, "Yes we can" is just a hope.

    Obama has a long way to go and expect some drama in next few weeks.

    March 5, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. Darth Vadik, CA

    Bob G.

    Name one accomplishment of Condi Rice in the last 7 years.....

    neither can I, so GO AWAY

    March 5, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. Val in PA

    Ok, CNN, guess the last message was too long, ha ha!

    Anyway, with all due respect, Lady Speaker, this is not good for the party. The truly experienced leaders in Washington, D.C. need to take charge and look out for those of us who have elected them. That's what we pay them for. The people of America need to let the candidates and the Superdelegates know that "WE" will pick the next president of the United States. Our next president needs to be sent a clear message, "business as usual" is over. The people of American will be giving the orders. "We the People" are the backbone of this nation, let's not forget that.

    Obama/Clinton was only a dream until she injected the process with venom. She now needs to be extracted from the process.

    March 5, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Reality check #1

    Hillary is winning all the big states with the exception of Obama's own, Illinois. You can not be elected with a record of no big states and most of your wins being the Red Republican states. The Delegates will have to look upon this as weak and a good sign that they could be defeated in November. Many Republicans voted for Obama to block Hillary because they knew Republicans could defeat him. If you don't believe this, do as I have done, talk to people in the upper northern states. i have friends in some of those states that work for big corporations who have said that is what they talk about at work. The Democrats are not going to chance losing another election , the delegates will in the end get behind Hillary. And for the record, I could care less how the Clintons have made their money, they have plenty of it, this we know. No one has a right to overlook someone else's tax information. This is still America, Mr. Obama.

    March 5, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Darth Vadik, CA

    Brian Schneider,

    I'm an Obama supporter, but your posting is disgusting.

    March 5, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. Matt

    I think that the longer that the Democrats carry this out the more deeply divided the party will become. The key will be those supporters of the losing candidate throwing their support behind the nominee. The candidates have waged a heated battle that has carried down through the ranks of the respective campaigns. The one thing Clinton can hope for through the end of this primary cycle is that she is able to Pennsylvania by around 55% throw in maybe Indiana and West Virginia and go to the convention with most of the big states and from their try to get the superdelegate backing. with Obama's win in Vermont, his likely victories in the Wyoming caucus (he typically does well in the caucus format) and Mississippi (large African-American population) he has built a substantial lead in the pledged delegates linked to primary and caucuses. HIs hope would then be that the Democratic Party remain true to a democratic principle and select the person who the majority of the people have voted for.

    March 5, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. K.Celina from IL!!!!

    GO !!!!!!!!!!!! HILLARY !!!!!!!!!!!! AMERICAN GRIL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. Jack, Texas

    This campaign season represents a fight between a new generation of voters and the aging generation. That is why you see a lot of comments referring to Obama's need for "training" etc. Unfortunately for the older crowd, Obama will win the nomination and take the presidency from their cold, rigor mortis, hands. Obama 08!

    March 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Spirit of America

    And that presidential nominee will either be Hillary Clinton or the Democrats will have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in November. Give it up Barack. The party's over. You made history. Leave it at that. Don't extend the Bush years.

    March 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Ken, CA

    Is this part of Pelosi's 100 day plan?

    March 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. MANDY

    To seat Michigan and Florida, spit the delegates down the middle. Both states screwed up by defying the DNC and holding their primary when they were told not to move them up.

    Hillary only wants to seat the delegates because she won (interestingly her name was on the Michigan ballot without Obama – hard to lose that way!). Would she be demanding their seating if Obama won? I think not. It is not about fairness to Florida and Michigan for is about her wanting to win!

    March 5, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15