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. PG

    Nancy Pelosi is correct, the super delegates do not need to speak. The general public has chosen and is choosing their President for the United States of America. Knowledgeable American citizens have given Senator Barak Obama a nearly insurmountable delegate lead.

    March 5, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. deb in az

    i agree with keeping this going, because its great for all of america to be able to cast their vote ..................but nancy i wouldnt go as far to blame the blunders of spending so much on the war.......take a look at how much you fools spend in washington.........i mean you folks need to cut the budget and stop spending.........when is your bank account maxed out? do you folks have credit cards with no limits? i know we have an idiot in the white house but im wondering how many are in congress as well................i guess its easier to spend someone elses money............... go hilary

    March 5, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. Gary

    on the subject of understanding was that the DNC came up with this concept of superdelegates to 1) break a tie/virtual tie or 2) to overturn a bad decision made by the voters in the primaries ( this happened due to low turnout before).....and since it appears no one is overly concerned about either candidate it appears the superdelegates will breakthe stalemate. Here is my major concern: Why do superdelegates endorse/support a candidate DURING the primaries. I think they should stay on the sidelines until all the primaries are completed before indicating their support. Anything less is distorting and becomes un-democratic.

    March 5, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. wait a minute

    There are enough Anybody but Hillary (ABH) or Anybody but Clinton (ABC) around to help McCain enter the White House.

    Obama will be silly to share the ticket with Hillary.

    March 5, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. Eric S

    That will be Hillary Clinton.

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

    If Hillary wins Dem nomination, I will ... vote for John McCain.

    March 5, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Steve in Albuquerque, NM

    Um, is Pelosi an idiot? How can the nominee be decided before the convention, UNLESS a bunch of superdelegates cast their vote for one of the candidates before the convention?

    And this is good for the party? She's nucking futs.

    I can't believe these people get elected. Wait, after reading many of the posts here, I understand how...

    March 5, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. Ben R.

    PA – Enough, first of all she did not send pictures of Obama in African clothing and you are misleading all of this people. You are the fear mongerer. and I hope CNN posts this so people know that people like you are trying to manipulate the rest of us. Shame on you!

    And also, by the way, who cares if he is christian, the president's religion is not important to any of us but you and the republicans. and the only person who would know if he is a good christian is god, and it is only HIS business

    March 5, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. Mal

    If Hillary gets the nomination with less pledged delegates than Obama, there will be a backlash against the democrats and McCain will win the presidency.

    March 5, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Lynn

    You're right on track, Paul. Obama is a lot of talk with little or no experience. He needs a bit more training for the job as our leader.
    All you men out there, with hang-ups about a woman for president, vote for experience not for your gender. I woke up, smelled the roses and I'm going for the best candidate to run this country.

    Hillary "08"

    March 5, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. Gerri

    Sen. Clinton would not have won on Tuesdsay, if those income taxes and white house documents had been released. You can believe she is hiding something and it is not good, but the media is not pressuring the Clinton's they are helping them. The peoples are entitled to know what shaded deals they have made that will affect this country. Sen. Obama, should keep ringing those word " YES, WE CAN" words are important and they inspire's people to made a change and want a change for the betterment of this country.


    March 5, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. Farren Ballanst

    Calling all haters, calling all haters: Hillary haters and Obama haters. Please step to the other side of the aisle where haters belong. Once you get your panties out of a wad, you can come back to the reasonable side. Now hurry, go.

    March 5, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  13. faye

    America is not ready for a black president? America is tired of old ignorant thoughts that belt out how ignorant people can be. Obama is half white so I guess he can be president. (ha) It's about 2008 not 1898, Go Obama!! In addition, don't go anonymous, if you're bold enough to make stupid remarks, be bold enough to come forward.

    March 5, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. Dylan

    The only way we have a candidate before the convention is if HIllary is forced out by higher-ups in the party. It is not possible for her to catch up in pledged delegates. When all is said and done Obama will have more delegates, more states and more popular votes... at that point, how do you NOT give him the nomination without subverting the will of the Democratic Party electorate?

    ANSWER: YOU DON'T. Unless Hillary is willing to gracefully bow out once it is clear she cannot catch up in pledged delegates (she won't) she will create a lose/lose situation for the party.

    This is one Democrat who is disgusted by Hillary and her fear and smear tactics. I will NEVER cast my vote for her.

    March 5, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. maynard

    lets all hope the candidate is Barack Obama. Hillary you can not trust

    if her last name was anything but clinton then i would think about voting for her to many memories of good old bill and the crap this man pulled while in the whitehouse

    March 5, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Canuck

    Sad by what the Canadian government leaked leading up to Ohio and Texas.

    The sense among the Canadians I know who are watching this closely is that: the current Conservative gov fears Obama as he poses a definite threat to McCain, whereas Clinton would be a joke in the real Elections.

    I hope that Obama wins it > he would restore my faith in the US.

    Ditto to Rob on his response to Jeremy 🙂
    LOL to Victori's "I would vote For McCain to take us to Hell because that is what we deserve."

    One Canuck

    March 5, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. D.Kimbro OHIO

    I hope that we don't lose in November because these candidates are being selfish. The personal attackes are not good for the party. Some of the recent Clinton tactics are straight out of the republican playbook.. If this continues I will vote for Ralph Nader.

    March 5, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. Uncle Sam

    John McCain's critics continue to distort his comments, "a 100- year war", concerning the possible need to establish an ongoing US presence in Iraq as we have done in other parts of the world. He would welcome debate on this strategy in an intelligent manner. We are also likely to see attempts linking John McCain to President Bush in an attempt to discredit him. With a history as a maverick, John McCain's independent streak upsets Republicans and Democrats alike. It becomes obvious this a political ploy and a rather poor one at that.

    March 5, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. Carrie PA

    Pennsylvania for Obama!

    March 5, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Gixy

    Victori, you are just one vote and your vote will not take us to hell. We count all including Florida and Michigan then the clean winner comes out with 2025 delegate.

    March 5, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. Wahome Maina

    As a first time voter, I would feel cheated if Michigan and Florida are counted at this time. This amounts to changing the rules while the game is underway to benefit a particular candidate. Let's raise the bar a little bit higher and set a good example.
    Kazi iendelee

    March 5, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. stacy

    Hillary has her groove back, way to go.

    March 5, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. manny t

    Even though Clinton won Ohio and Texas. She didn't get enough votes to over take obama in the delegate count which matters so please the rest of the country lest not have a broken convention and superdelegates lets end this fast lets all vote for Obama and start getting ready for McCaine. He's going to be far ahead in planning we need to start now and stop this bitter nonsence. USA for Obama. Vote Obama and lets go after mccaine!!!

    March 5, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Kimmie

    Yes Obama – No Hillary. NO NO NO Obama/Hillary or Hillary/Obama!
    What does Hillary have to hide on her tax return? Chris Matthews where are you? Please shed on light on her big tax secret. What's going on?

    March 5, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Stamford

    In addtion to the super delegates, Florida and Michigan need to be dealt with. You can't have these two states have un-counted votes. It would be bad for the party. The situation needs to be cleaned up.

    March 5, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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