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. Barb

    What a crazy spoiled brat mentality for anyone to say if you don't do it my way I'll vote for spite instead of what is best for the Country! You need a time out, and don't come back to the blogs, till you're old enough to vote! p.s. if you actually aren't a kid who skipped school today........go to and express your thoughts on his blog!!

    March 5, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Justin

    Obama will not be competing for Democratic votes in November. Use your brain... he will however have a stronger cut into the Republican and Independent base than Clinton.

    Way to deflate your own argument, I suppose.

    March 5, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. kevin

    Florida and Michigan voters have to be heard. Dems need to vote again. This is so obvious. And remember, the two states will go to clinton heavily.

    March 5, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Objectivity in New York

    I was quite aware that most of you Hillary supporters were language challanged; I did not know you had no arithmetic skills. Read my lips you empty barrels, it is mathematically impossible for her.

    March 5, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. CaliPeach

    Hillary supporter's keep in mind, she is still behind in the delegate count!!!!ARE WE FORGETTING THAT. All the Clinton's negatively will soon he revealed. Obama will be our nominee and you will bite your words!!! She can not win the General Election, why do you think the Republicans are strategizing to vote for Hillary. They know they will rip into her if she is the nominee. She will make a great VICE PRESIDENT!!!

    OBAMA 08 27 wins to Hillary's 14 (obama is leading in Wisconcin and will definitely win Mississippi)

    March 5, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Dave

    Superdelegates are free to do whatever they want to do. How can we say the primary has ended. I think the fight has just began and people are re-examining Obama and his higher than thou attitude. I am glad Hillary made him come down to earth and tell him to do a job just like everyone else. Obama is no longer safeguarded from the public, hence he is starting to show he is just like any other politicians.

    March 5, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  7. carla

    hillary needs obama's magic stick! and he's magic wand will shut her big mouth up!

    March 5, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. Jenny

    It feels like obama has been pulling some kind of Jedi mind trick on every body. He's black-BIG DEAL! Thats no reason to vote for someone. Its disgusting how people are putting him up on this pedestal.. He is SO NOT ready. If he does make it into office, he will never be able to live up to what he has built himself up to. Just wait..he'll probably try to overachieve...and fail.

    Hey "B.O." – you stink! Aren't your fifteen minutes up yet????!!!.

    March 5, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. CB

    Why does Florida always seem to be the problem state with our presidential elections?

    Why spend the extra dollars to re-vote when we have people in our country that are homeless, no money for medicines that they need to keep them living and what about gas prices....

    Make the vote count! Can someone tell me where it's documented anywhere in prior elections that this can happen? If not, then we need a serious overhaul in our election process.

    March 5, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. mr. mann

    count all votes in Michigan and Florida,or else i will definitely vote Republican ,not democrat

    March 5, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. yomomma

    Hillary is our best bet. Obama doenst have a clue.

    March 5, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Rachel

    Of course Clinton can catch Obama mathematically. What can't happen without huge wins for one candidate in all the remaining states is for one of them to definitively clinch the nomination before the convention.
    And all this talk about the so-called popular vote? How can we do this on percentage of votes in each state. The only way to know who the majority of people want to be the Democrat candidate is to look at the actual numbers involved. For example, 1 million votes might win you a smaller state, but you would be defeated by a landslide in a big state. You have to look at the actual numbers.
    The other thing is, many states are unlikely to make a difference in November as they will vote Republican, so it's the Democrat and swing states that carry more weight. The issue isn't as simple as people seem to want it to be, and it's not as clear cut as many people seem to believe it is.
    I love the way until today, there was so much talk from Obama's supporters about momentum, and now that's been stopped, and possibly swung to Clinton, they've completely dropped the issue.

    March 5, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  13. pate

    Hillary is a big liar, sheer loser–Rush Limbaugh asked Republicans to cross over and vote for her-that alone raises doubt about candidancy- cannot be trusted. Get out of the race, you can't make it...

    March 5, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Note2Dems

    I am not a democrat or republican. I am a conservative that at one point in history would have meant republican. I think I represent a large demographic. I do not care for McCain as I see him as too much like Bush which is what has driven me from the party. If the dems nominate clinton I will vote for McCain as another president clinton is my worst nightmare. If Obama is nominated I will consider voting for him unless Ron Paul runs independent. Either way I would not vote for McCain if you nominate Obama. IMO your best bet to beat McCain is to nominate Obama. I think thier are some political analysts who disagree with my opinion but I felt compelled to give it anyway.

    March 5, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. Marina

    To all the non believers, I am here to tell you that Obama will win in '08. So long they were kept down, but now they are once again singing "SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT." A good thing can and will never be stopped. I agree with all who say that the democracy in this country will change. Watch and see that if Hillary gets the nomination, many will not let her win the White House. To the Annoymus writer who seems afraid to state their identity, the first Clinton brought scandal and shame on the WHITE HOUSE, and the second Clinton will do the same. Check the records before you give all your support to Hillary. Many of you are scared because Obama is a black man that carries no baggage. The WHITE HOUSE, is where he needs to be, maybe it can stay white and not TARNISHED as it has been for the past fifteen plus years. YES WE CAN, AND WE WILL.......................... OBAMA '08 ALL THE WAY.

    March 5, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. Micah

    Obama is ahead in both popular vote and delegates...why again should he bow out or take a post as the VP? Especially considering Hillary will have to win ALL the remaining elections by 60/40 margins or better just to have a shot at catching Obama by the end....prolonging this is stupid.

    March 5, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. TJ

    I'm wondering if anyone has looked at the superdelegates closely enough to answer me this question: If superdelegates all voted the way their states voted, who would benefit?

    March 5, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. BR

    to the realist – the only reason this "pitiful" congress can't get anything sone, is because the Bush admin will NOT compromise on ANYTHING.

    March 5, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  19. LMDJ

    Hilliary supporters explain this to me. How and why does Hilliary bash Barack (and you applaud this) and then in next breath suggest that the person you bashed be your VP. Hmmm...

    Here is my thought. Should she be the nominee, HRC knows she will loose against McCain. Obama has broadened the democratic base. She has not. She need him. He doesn't need her.

    Obama will be nominee...or it will be third loss in a row for dems.

    Obama 08'

    March 5, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  20. Greg

    The Republicans are LOVING every minute of this.

    Since it has now been guaranteed that the ONLY way Clinton can win the nomination is by convincing the Superdelegates to overturn the will of the people, OR, even worse, by changing the rules and counting the "votes" from Florida and Michigan even though Clinton was the only one who campaigned there, the Republicans might possibly get their wish.

    If the above-mentioned scenario were to come true, the Democratic party will no doubt be decimated. All the great advantages the Democrats have been enjoying up until now would dissappear in a heartbeat and McCain would be sitting right there to welcome all those disenfranchised voters.

    March 5, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  21. Boatsan

    Hillary won Florida all names were on the ballot their!!!
    remember Obama's ran tv ads their Hillary did not nor Edwards but still Hillary won . people in Fl. voted and their voted for Hillary. like it or not. GO HILLARY

    March 5, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. P. Washburn

    Hillary for President, Obama for VP. Obama needs to get up to speed & this way the Dems could realistically keep the White House for 16 years.

    March 5, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. JIMMY


    March 5, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  24. Yes We Can!

    Have a real contest in Florida and Michigan or I will vote Republican!

    Everyone's vote should be counted not just Hillary's.

    March 5, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. Darryl in Houston

    I'm so sick of Hillary's people getting on Obama about his sharpening attacks when it was her that started this. I'm worried that the party will become so separate that McCain will win in November. The Clinton's don't care about that! Its all about the power and it will someday be their downfall, mark my words.

    March 5, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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