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. Sheila

    The time to discuss the MI & FL delgates was when the deal was made and agreed to. It's to late. There will be war if now in the 11th. hour the rules of the game are changed.

    March 5, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. Mary - Independent

    Pelosi is right – do not play with superdelegates at this time.
    It is important to reconsider a new Primary for both Michigan and
    Florida – votes should be counted. We do not need more disastrous games in this country – we have enough!

    March 5, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. bobw

    Pelosi doesn't realize or is blinded by her support of Clinton, that delaying the process gives Hillary more time to join forces with John McCain to hit Obama from all sides and as a result, ultimately destroy the Democrat party.

    As for Florida and Michigan, what part of the DNC's penalty do people NOT understand? They knew the risks when they moved up their primaries. Now they have to live with it. This whole idea of a "do-over" is nothing but a ploy by Clinton to capture votes that should have never been cast.

    March 5, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Mike NYC, NY

    Clinton can't win. Too many people, right or wrong, hate her intensely.

    Oh please Democratic party, please don't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! Don't do it again....we can't afford to blow it again!

    March 5, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Stephen

    I believe the Dream ticket is the best option. Clinton/Obama.
    I think the superdelegates should get involved – MI and FL delegates should be awarded as well.

    March 5, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. MANDY

    Did Pelosi argue that having Hillary go negative with innuedo and fear mongering would hurt the party and call for the candidates should stick to the issues and their records?

    I must have missed that part.

    Hillary is tearing the party apart and doing the dirty work for the Republicans!

    She is really in no position to throw mud...she is knee deep in the stuff herself! Not that the media will notice...

    March 5, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Shumaine 4 Obama 08

    Still in the lead OBAMA!! Honesty, integrity, and hard work will pay off. Oh yeah...YES WE CAN!

    March 5, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. Gmoney

    The point isn't that the votes didn't count. Everybody agreed to these terms.

    The point is Hillary started fighting for them only after she fell significantly behind Obama. Her motives are incredibly transparent.

    March 5, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. Jason - Visalia, CA

    Please step in and tell Hillary to stand down before she drags Obama down with her.

    March 5, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. James

    Of course. That means Barack Obama. Only he can be ahead in delegates before convention.

    March 5, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Darth Vadik, CA

    Good Lord you Hillary supporters are delussional, she cannot mathematically win this nomination.

    Her total net gain of pledged delegates yesterday was 4 yes FOUR, she may have won Texas but Obama got more delegates out of it, and she is losing in majority of the states left.

    What planet are you living on?

    You know what they say wish in one hand and ........ in the other see which one fills up first.

    March 5, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Matt

    More than that, Van. He has gained at LEAST five. Maybe a couple more.

    March 5, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. john williams san diego, ca.

    Hillary is on a roll--Cackle.Cackle

    March 5, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Keith, GA

    This year has taught up that both parties need to rethink the primary process. The math behind this is going to be a major let down to whichever candidate does not win the nominee. This is also applicable to the Republicans.

    March 5, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. H. Johansson

    Superdelegates need to vote based on how their constituents think TODAY, not months ago.

    Many who voted for Hillary in NH may no longer support. Those Iowa who have gotten to know Obama may no longer support him now that they've learned more about him.

    And what about all the Edwards, Dodd, Kucinich, Richardson and Biden voters. . . they don't count?

    And those votes were cast before Hillary voters knew she'd be going up againts McCain . . . same with Barack.

    What's the point of Superdelegates if they're NOT supposed to use their judgement, but are simply supposed to vote the way others did months ago?

    If Hillary is caught taking drug money tomorrow, are the Superdelegaes still supposed to vote for her because that's what their constituents did in January?

    Superdelegates have an obligation NOT to vote how their Americans felt months ago, but how they feel now.

    March 5, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. nadeem

    Who has more states?

    Who has more delegates?

    Who has a greater % of the popular vote?


    March 5, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. Mich and Flor?

    Nancy, please address Michigan and Florida. They are American too and they deserve to be recognized in this historical election. Imagine yourself living in one of these states and being told, "your vote doesn't count". Would you stand for it? I didn't think so.

    March 5, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Does Pelosi have anything meaningful to say? She is useless. I've always been amazed that the house Democrats supported her to be a leader.

    March 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  19. 4Real

    For all you Hillary friends, it would be nice for her to win but is she being fair to the American people. It seems as if Hillary has a lot to hide until after she is nominee. I hope she don't be impeached like her husband for not be up front with us. I really hate that she has resort to the crazy stuff of dirty politics because when she become President she needs to be clean and not hide anything.

    March 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. Howard Burch

    I think that if superdelegates over ride the voters choise of Obama, then Obama should run as an independent. If Clinton wins on the up and up fine. But my vote goes to Obama or McCain

    March 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Sabrina, Las Vegas, NV

    If Clinton is anywhere on the democratic ticket, I will NOT vote!

    And, the democratic party will lose a major part of it's base (black voters) if she continue to go negative with lies.

    *Side note *

    To those who may say, who cares about the black voteā€¦..

    The democratic nominee will not win the election without a heavy black vote turn out. If you don't believe me, ask Al Gore and John Kerry!

    March 5, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. Ponte

    Why do these dingbat Dems keeps saying that MaCain has called for a "hundred year war"? He didn't say that, they know it, everyone knows it. The man said "continuing presence", just like Japan, Germany, Kuwait. It's what is done after any war. Alexander did it, Caesar did it, the British Crown did it, Truman did it. Is that so hard for the Dems to understand the distinction? No, it's not. But Pelosi loves to be a bomb-thrower as much as any LibDem likes to be.

    So silly, so sad.

    March 5, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  23. Just a thought

    The political bickering is perpetuated by the people who eat this stuff up. Judging by the board, people are still infighting amongst Dems. This is crazy. This has to stop. We are looking at the Democratic ticket already. This is already an advantage against Mccain, who hasn't chosen a V.P. yet. Just relax.
    If you knew the issues well enough, you would realize that Hillary and Barack don't differ that much. They are the ticket to the nomination, so stop chastizing either one of them and get a grip.
    Just wait unti l Mccain chooses Colin Powell for V.P. – that will change the dynamics significantly.

    March 5, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  24. DCH

    Wasn't it just stated on CNN's election coverage last night that neither candidate is going to have enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination, even if one of them won every remaining state, and that it would HAVE to be decided by super delegates?

    And's garbage that MI and FL don't get to vote.

    March 5, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. jp/michigan

    As a Michigan voter, I hope my vote will be counted. It was not my fault that democratic party decided to punish Michigan for voting early. All the candidates could have and were encouraged to leave their names on the ballots. They choose not too. Hillary won. Just like in Florida names were left on and Hillary won. Democratic candidates were not to advirtise in Florida but Obama spent $1.3 million dollars in Florida.

    March 5, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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