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. Jill Danton

    Hillary Clinton's "attack Obama" strategy may come back and bite her in the general election if she ends up winning the nomination. Here's why: there are a huge number of Obama supporters who are extremely enthusiastic and protective of this candidate (myself included) and Obama has gotten people out to vote who ordinarily don't bother if Hillary gets all of these people angry at her for her mistreatment of Obama and SHE ends up in the general election with McCain all these democratic voters may simply stay home rather than cast a vote for her. Inasmuch as about HALF the voting democrats are behind Obama in such a tight race that'd be alot of votes to lose in the general

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

    If the superdelegates disregard the pledged delegate count and give Hillary the nomination the Democratic party will be guilty of the same undemocratic behavior the Supreme Court showed when it gave Bush the 2000 presidential victory despite the fact that Al Gore had won more votes

    Furthermore, such actions would only cement the idea, for some, that a persons vote doesn't count and would result in millions of voters becoming disaffected and abandoning the political process thereby ensuring a McCain victory in November

    March 5, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Patrick

    Tell your girl Hillary to tone down the negative rhetoric Mrs. Pelosi, then we'll talk about whether this primary is going to hurt the Democrats in the General Election. If Hillary keeps acting like a rabid attack dog you can all but guarantee John McCain will be the next President (her sound clip praising McCain's experience doesn't exactly help, because using her criteria he blows BOTH Clinton and Obama out of the water on experience)

    March 5, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. jeff

    Count all votes. Do not ignore the FL and MI voters. All voters deserve for their votes to be counted!

    March 5, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. Jack, CA

    If we only rely on pledged delegates, we should definitely seat MI and FL – two critical states. If there has to be a revote for MI, so be it. I am sure Clinton can still win big there.

    March 5, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Mike, Canada

    I think since Clinton has a statistical improbability of beating Obama, and the fact that he's STILL ahead with delegates/states/caucuses and everything it's time for her to bow out and allow her party to unite before the democratic convention. This is so the nominee can launch his campaign that day with huge coverage and outline his plans. Else McCain is getting this election handed to him.

    A Democrat from Canada.

    March 5, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Scott, Berkeley, CA

    i think while Obama pledges to have a clean campaign, those who support him are dirtier than Hillary supporters.

    March 5, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Blake

    Besides the fact that Obama is winning the delegate count and this will not change no matter how negative she gets, I just wish someone could tell me where this experience of hers is. Was it the legislation she co-sponsored with Lieberman on video game ratings (Family Entertainment Protection Act)? I feel much safer now knowing she answered that call at 3am.

    And FL and MI should either revote or sit it out. Both candidates agreed before the election that this would be the case. In desperation Clinton decided to start counting on them even though no one else campaigned there.

    Please Superdelegates, no more Clintons no matter how many favors you owe them. Respect the will of your constituents.

    March 5, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  9. Felecia

    Are you serious? Obama is the only person who can lead this country in the right direction. Hillary is selfish and is trying to steal this the same way Pres. Bush did last time. I actually respected her before this campaign, but after I have seen her sneaky/nasty tactics, there is no way that I can vote for her. She should be uniting the Democratic Party; instead she's a selfish, self centered, ego-maniac. She's only wants to win. She's not concerned with the people of this country or party.

    March 5, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. Xavier, Washington, DC

    Hmmm. I wonder if this has anything to do with Obama's claim to have 50 superdelegates ready to support him. Since Clinton is up by 40 superdelegates, why not let Obama even the score so that the total delegate count truly reflects the disparity in elected delegates?

    March 5, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. lucy

    Hillary prevails.
    NO way for Obama. Too many hidden problems that will be attacked by GOP.

    March 5, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. therealist

    But when will this pitiful 110th Congress finally do the peoples work??

    March 5, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. james

    I hope the D.N.C. will not go back on thier word that they
    disqualified Florida and Michigan from causaues,
    Fair is fair..

    March 5, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. RealityKing

    Or at least by Christmas break if all else fails, hey Nancy...

    March 5, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Clinton as President would defy the principles set forth by the Founding Fathers. She's already been eight years in the White House, let's see someone new. Change is good even if it makes us uncomfortable.

    March 5, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. Chris

    It is so funny that here you have Hillary with the most scandals, dirt, lies and cheating and people rejoice when Obama, without any of this, slips up or even points out Hillary's scandals. This country is doomed. Just like how everyone elected Bush (twice for goodness sake), people are making the same mistake and in 2 years people will be saying…"We all knew the history of Clintons and for some reason, we elected her and now we realize it is a mistake"

    Way to go America. For 24 years, we have and will be ruled by unqualified presidents. Presidents, who if they were young boys or girls, you will not want dating your sons or daughters.


    March 5, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  17. Edgar

    Katherine – there is no way for Obama to get the numbers he needs to be nominee also. Face it they need each other and America needs both of them.

    American are fighters, resilent and we need a strong President not a weak President or liberal!

    March 5, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. Mike, Arkansas

    LOL she says I am the one to beat McCain.. Yeah right.. when it comes to mud slinging she will lose in every corner with all her scandals she is involved in. WAKE UP!!

    March 5, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. Chuck

    Who in their right mind would suggest that Obama could receive good and proper training as VP under Hillary Clinton. If he does not win the nomination (although it appears he will) he needs to say no thank you to any offer from Hillary before making the mistake of taking the job and getting training under a Clinton administration that will be a complete failure not to mention corrupt.

    March 5, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Marcus, Dallas, Texas

    Manuel TX... Florida and Michigan are being punished for holding their Primaries too early. I am kinda proud that the Democratic Party has punished them for that... unlike the Republican Party which crams "Tradition" and "Heritage" and "Values" down our throats, but turns their heads when states break the rules... Republicans = Hypocrits.

    March 5, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. Mike

    We certainly will have a nominee before the convention.

    Hillary Clinton!

    Go Hillary!!

    March 5, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. Moira

    Pelosi should shut her mouth and let this play out. She got into her position by default. It looks to me like she doesn't want any other woman to be above her.

    March 5, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. Kurtis

    Why so many non-democratic voters are allowed to select the democratic candidate is beyond me. If they want to vote in a democratic primary or caucus, they should register as democrates.

    Thank goodness we have super-delegates to make sure that it is ultimately the Democrates that chose the Democratic candidate...not all those stary-eyed, "independants".


    March 5, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  24. Edgar

    Latina for Obama – your back so how did you like last night results? The voters have spoken! Lets see Hillary has WON the big states and Obama has won the little states! Gee I wonder why!

    Because America wants a strong President and its Obama turn to show that can be tough and not with Hillary show us your taxes.

    McCain is waiting and he is a lion! You heard that people A LION!

    March 5, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. Mr. C.

    Richardson said that after yesterday, whoever that has the most delegates is whom he will endorse. OBAMA, we are looking forward to richardson's endorsement..

    OBAMA '08

    March 5, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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