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. Jason

    Looks like CNN & MSNBC got their wish – 7 more weeks of must see "he said/she said".

    Meanwhile, the ceiling for both candidates in the general election is slowly eroding. I'm a Republican who would vote for Obama, but not if many more incidents like the NAFTA memo with Canada pop up.

    March 5, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  2. John from Cape Cod

    How hard can it be to release your tax return?
    Like everyone i know i keep a copy every year i file.
    Does Clinton not have access to a photocopy machine?
    Does she not have and extensive staff to make here a copy to give to CNN?

    Does she have something to hide that would strongly impact
    on her ability to gather support?

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

    I think the votes from Florida and Michigan should be taken into consideration. I am sure if Obama had won these states he would want them added in if he found he was losing. Its not fair to Hillary to have so many delegates taken from her. There is no way Obama should win the nomination if he does not get the 2024 delegates that are needed to win. It's only fair that these delegates are recognized or the primaries would be redone. Hillary should not step done without these delegates being counted in and if and when that's done and Obama still does not reach 2024 then it should be called by the superdelegates. I hope they will be able to see that Hillary can win the big states for them which will be needed to win in November. If Obama is selected then you can say goodbye to the presidency as McCain will definitely win.
    Obama is like a spoilt child. He is so arrogant that he honestly thought that he was going to win all the states last night but Hillary did put him in his place. I hope the causases in Texas do not let him win there and the delegates go to Hillary.

    Go Hillary go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so happy for you and we will keep on winning.

    March 5, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  4. PS

    OBAMA IS STILL THE FRONT RUNNER, PEOPLE!! If anyone should bow out it should be the loser.

    It's no wonder the Dems haven't one an election in 8 years, the leaders are clueless–this madness must stop!!

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

    It's hilarious how Clinton keeps talking about all this "experience." What is she talking about exactly, she couldn't even give a straight answer on CNN this morning. A few first lady photo ops does not mean you are a seasoned foreign policy expert. Obama needs to go on the attack. When you are you dealing with the bottom of the barrel you need to get all the scum out to clean the barrel. As for Clinton, she can't even keep her husband in line how is she going to keep a country in line.

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

    Wow! What a big surprise from HILLARY! No..she did not surprise anynone. This morning I watched Karl Rove of FOX news TV mentioned about the big number of republicans who crossed over and voted for her. That's why I hate 'POLITICS"!

    I was hopping to vote for a democrat this year, but I have now a second thought on the Democratic Party system. Watch out with the "Dirty CLINTON Machine"!

    No..wait! YES WE CAN....

    GO OBAMA!!

    March 5, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. Toby Cn

    What a load of bull. Maybe they will nominate Micky Mouse again this cycle.

    March 5, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  8. Leo

    I see Hillary wading in confetti and balloons giving a victory speech, yet today I study the statistics to see a net gain so far of 18 delegates (go to Election Results on CNN). Obama is winning the Texas caucus and delegates are not in yet. I realize all delegates are not in yet for Ohio and Rhode Island but again, the net gain is very minimal at best. Can someone explain how this is a HUGE VICTORY for Hillary? It seems to me like she has just lost the race. How can she ever catch up now? With 370 delegates at stake I though she would gain at least 50-100 delegates. What happened? I don't understand. Thx.

    March 5, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  9. KB

    "Yes we can!" Is anyone else worried that Obama borrowed his campaign slogan from Bob the Builder?

    March 5, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. Julie

    Interesting analysis on Fox news (title After All Said and Done, Clinton, Obama Running Virtual Dead Heat) shows that Obama leads popular vote even if Florida and Michigan are included...Not by much, but pretty impressive for not even having his name on the ballot in one state...

    Total Votes Counted (including Michigan and Florida)
    Obama: 13,889,742
    Clinton: 13,886,387

    Total Votes Counted (including Florida, but NOT Michigan)
    Obama: 13,889,742
    Clinton: 13,558,078

    Total Votes Counted (NOT including Michigan or Florida)
    Obama: 13,313,528
    Clinton: 12,687,092

    March 5, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. Debra

    From Carol Costello

    CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN) - With the Democratic race extremely tight, the party's superdelegates - the 800 or so unpledged elected officials and party members - are facing growing racial pressure, and even threats, to back Sen. Barack Obama.

    [From the Politico]

    Amazing as it is in this day and age, black super-delegates are being subject to threats, intimidation and “Uncle Tom” smears to get them to vote along racial lines, politico reports. And the pressure is coming from other black politicians and groups supporting Barrack Obama.

    March 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. steve ohio

    Obama 1,321

    Clinton 1,186

    As far as a "dream Ticket" goes, ask Hillary if she would take the Vice Presidency because she has no hope of overtaking Obama.

    March 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Tariq Ahmed

    BARAK OBAMA is the BEST.

    WE NEED CHANGE from Bush-Clinton-Bush. NO CLINTON.

    March 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. Micah

    "I applaud HILLARY for being the first to suggest it. It shows the ability to put the good of the country before personal ego, it demonstrates quality leadership, shows an ability to be a uniter.
    Obama, who claimed himself an able uniter, now looks petulant and unwilling to unite his own party."

    Why are you applauding her for asking for a joint ticket with herself as president when she has almost 0 mathematical chance of finishing with more delegates? What about that is commendable...

    March 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. Lewis

    People, you should know that this is over. Mathematically Obama is winning. Hillary is killing the Democratic Party. Its about time that she bowed out. First of all she will loose in comming contests, plus Obama is ahead with more than 100 delegates. Most of the states remaining favor Obama.
    For the cry babies in here for Clinton. Keep crying and yelling . Believe it or not Obama is/will be the democratic nominee.

    OBAMA 08

    March 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. Steve

    I couldn't disagree more. This mud-slinging and dirty fighting is NOT "good for the Party". And as far as having a nominee before the convention – how does Pelosi think that will happen? Obvisously, she either hasn't looked at the delegate count, or didn't take math in school.

    March 5, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. JMH

    Why not, Corey? There are 13 states still to vote, if Obama can win 12 straight – certaintly Hillary can win 13 straight!!! Hillary is the only Dem with the "balls" to run our country effectively and get us out of the hole Bush has dug us into.
    What's all this talk about ending the process early, let the people of EVERY state be heard and place their votes! I am a native Californian and now live in Texas and I voted for Hillary yesterday AND caused for her too!
    I hope it does make it to the super delegates, because to many voters aren't educated enough to make the educated vote for Hillary and the super delegates will vote according to whats best for our country and not what's popular.

    March 5, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. CA boomer for CHANGE

    Delegates from Florida and Michigan should not count unless... the same rules that have governed the other contests are applied.... 1) both candidates names are on the ballot, 2) both candidates have significant time to campaign in the state, and 3) every voter is made aware that their votes will count this time. *Otherwise, those people who did not vote because they were informed that their votes would not count and voters that did not see their candidate's name on the ballot (in Michigan) would be disenfranchised....period!!

    But look for the win at all costs Clintons to try to bend the rules...

    March 5, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  19. Steven Barone

    Play by the rules. Florida and Michigan blew it and they do not count. Nobody campaigned there and Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. Obama cannot be caught up with now. Hillary is a slighty smarter female version of George Bush. I'd trust her about as much as I would someone trying to sell me a sub-prime mortgage. Hillary is desperate and cannot keep moving the goal posts.

    March 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. Miguel

    Clinton's stroking of the Farrakhan card was a brilliant move that goes to show how low she is willing to go to get what she thinks is "hers." What is comes down to is a choice between "Yes WE can" or "Yes SHE can" call me crazy but I would like to think democracy is more about the WE than the individual.

    March 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. MikeSmith

    This race would have been over by Now, if it had been anyone running against Obama, but the spouse of a past cheating President. Let us face this as a fact, given that Hillary has no chance of overcoming the delegate count that Obama has gained!

    March 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. Lewis

    @ yomomma what do you mean that Obama doesnt have a clue? and Mr. Mann. Go vote Republican. Obama will win the Presidency and all you cry babies will cry for 8 years.

    March 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. Jim, American in Paris

    Florida and Michigan stand up and have your voices counted!

    Protest actively to make the DNC rectify this error. Force your state officials to defend your right to vote and participate in the convention like the other 48 states.

    If Florida and Michigan or any other state is not seated at the convention it will be a flagrant and outrageous violation of states rights and their respective residents.

    Who is running your state? You or the DNC?

    March 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Denis van Dam

    All these questions of Rezko have already been answered. The Obama campaign returned $150,000 donated by him ... as mush as the Clinton campaign returned $850,000 of Norman Hsu's, the Democratic fundraiser indicted last year on charges of fraud and violating various campaign finance laws that contributed to Clinton’s campaign. Tell me , what’s the difference?

    March 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  25. Persio

    Its not over people. Hillary not only stopped Obama and his momentum, but won more than 50 % on all 3 states. Obama may have more pledged delegates, but it is not over till one reaches the magic number, so please stop wishing for something that is not democratic by declaring a winner and let the rest of the states that are yet to vote to have their say. She did win big cause the momentum was in Obama's favor prior to March 4th and he outspend Hillary and still lost, in my book that is winning big so HUH!

    Go Hillary
    Go Hillary
    Hillary 08

    March 5, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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