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. bond

    Pelosi is obviously ignorant. The current mudslinging Dem campaign only helps McCain. Gimme a break with the spin crap. Interesting though that Pelosi is looking more and more like Joan Rivers each day...

    March 5, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. Flat-earther, Georgia

    She is correct. Let the democratic process play out. That is best for USA.

    March 5, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Hill Supporter from Minnesota

    I understand Ms. Pelosi is supporting Obama, which makes me a little uneasy. I want my vote to count and it's for Hillary.


    March 5, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. Dem w an attitude

    Nancy Pelosi has also stated emphatically that whichever candidate has the most pledged delegates by June should be the nominee. (as in- the nominee should not be crowned by superdelegates)

    Senator Clinton probably does not agree with Speaker Pelosi on this matter. Too bad for Senator Clinton.

    March 5, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. Casey, Atlanta

    Yes, let the Dream Ticket unite, and destroy the pain McCain- what a lame.

    March 5, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Sis O, IA

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

    March 5, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Rosa

    My support will continue for Obama. I am a register voter here, in Philadelphia, PA and there are many of us who believe that, he is the better canidate.

    Thank you,


    Rosa T.S

    March 5, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    I don't know why everyone is not see the whole picture.
    America is not ready for a Black President. Hillary will be the Democratic runner, because she will be given it on a silver platter.
    Obama needs to wake up and look in the mirror. the only way you will be President is if you are the last human on Earth and then again
    they would give it to a Zippy the Chimp before you get it.
    Why do you think they call it the "White House" wake up son,
    wake up.

    March 5, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. CW in DC

    Whew, talk about old politics!!! I will probably get attacked on this because she is a woman, but man or woman – when democrats got back control of the house during the last mid-term elections, there were changes expected and a house that would fight Prez. Dumbo and make him do right. I almost as disgusted with Pelosi and her croonies as I am with how the press seems to walk on eggshells around Clinton regarding her past dealings and shadiness and not even bothering to report on the Paul vs. Clinton campaign finance fraud fiasco (try saying that fast 3 times!) in court in California right now. What a crock Pelosi is trying to weigh in on this!! Her and Rush need to go sit in a corner somewhere.

    March 5, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. Katherine

    This sounds like Pelosi is a Clinton supporter!!! There is no mathematical way for Clinton to catch Obama. You need to stop this madness and turn to fight against McCain. If you allow Clinton to steal this nomination, I will be supporting McCain!!!

    March 5, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. ralph tyler

    What has Pelosi accomplished as Speaker of the House? Same question for the Democratic Congress. The Democratic Party is revealing itself to be joke.

    I have voted the Democratic ticket all my adult life (I am 58) but that stops now.

    McCain is not perfect, but he has a bipartisan nature and he really is experienced.

    I would trust him the most in a national crisis. You have to have a pretty cool head to survive what he survived. Clinton, e.g., would clearly end up over-compensating in this area and that could be a real problem.

    I think I have had enough of Richardson, Edwards, Pelosi, Reid, the Clintons, Obama and all the rest of these guys.

    March 5, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. Rosa

    My support will continue for Obama. I am a register voter here, in Philadelphia, PA and there are many of us who believe that, he is the better canidate.

    Thank you,


    Rosa T.S

    March 5, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. Chris, Middletown, CT


    Late-breaking numbers out of Texas’ odd two-phase voting system put an asterisk on Hillary Clinton’s Tuesday night victory speech, showing gains made by Barack Obama in the delegate grab race had all but numerically canceled out her big win in Ohio.

    March 5, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. Tom

    I find this as interesting. I am not so sure if I agree with the prolonged campaign being good for the party. As it continues, the attacks from both sides will become more personal, and we will most likely see the division in votes as we have in some states, such as Texas, My big question is how will the superdelegates vote when the ball is in their court. That will be quite a situation when it happens.

    March 5, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  15. Gary

    Unless someone brokers a deal...this will go to the Convention in Denver. Pelosi obviously didnt get her education in math....unless its voodoo math. There were hints today that Clinton would accept Obama as her VP..the so-called dream team, if she was to somehow become the nominee. I wonder if this is what Pelosi means ?

    I dont think Obama, if he was to win the nomination put Clinton on his ticket, not that she would ever consider or accept that offer, if it came.

    Since Pelosi and Dean both have problems with re-runs in Florida ( which may deserve something) and Michigan ( absolutely NOT !!) it is almost mathematically impossible for Clinton to catch Obama in pledged delegates. So how does it not go to Denver ??? Do the math

    March 5, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |

    Clinton will fight and her base of superdelegates will make this a much closer race than Obama wants.

    Obama people are exteremly scared of their chances to lose to Clinton. They are inexperienced.

    March 5, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. roger s

    A highly partisan approach, to give her candidate more opoprtunity to pull it out. About the only distinctions to be made are between the two candidates themselves, and not with McCain. This will undoubtedly devolve into negative campaigning. How is tis "good" for the party?

    March 5, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. Hillary For Pres. NOT Obama! Ohio

    Yes they will and it will be HILLARY!!!!!

    March 5, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Joe Deitering Anoka, Minn.

    This will wreck the party. I think they should settle it with a duel.

    March 5, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Interesting

    In other words: Obama is giving her some doubts & they want Hillary to spar with him some more. If they happen to grow the democratic base in the process & he is a casualty that's ok.

    March 5, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. ClintonStrong

    Clinton is going to Win!!

    Fight Hillary Fight!!

    Voters keep fighting!!

    Hillary is our president

    History in the making!!

    Obama Lied in 08 while he said no!

    Obama Lied!

    March 5, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Latina for Obama

    Mrs. Pelossi
    with all due respect, this will not occurr if Hillary can help it, she has divided the party so badly that her ego is bigger than Bush and Rush together.
    Anyone but the Clintons..................

    March 5, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. Tired of crap

    Perhaps Nancy should remind the Obama camp that things like "ask Clinton what she's hiding" as the previous story in this ticker indicates are decidedly NOT good for the party...

    March 5, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Thank you Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, I've waited for your voice of good reasoning which the democrat party needs. Now make sure that both Clinton and Obama understand the same and don't come back calling foul and want a superdelegate decision. Thank you Mrs. Speaker of the House Pelosi.

    March 5, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. Amy in Iowa

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

    March 5, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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