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. Jon

    God bless you Hillary...

    You're exactly what the Republican party needs right now. Keep tearing each other apart and saying the things we can't!

    ANYONE but Hillary in 2008!

    March 5, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Brian

    Speeches may not create solutions, Hillary, but neither does pandering. And you blow more hot air than any politician in Washington.

    March 5, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Katy, TX

    It's a shame that Hilliary had to result to mudslinging to get people to vote for her. How is that a solution for America? Sounds like the same old Washington to me. And as for experience, George Bush had experience. We are fighting someone elses war and look at our economy today. Bill Clinton had experience and he was impeached. Experience with no morals or common sense.

    March 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Jay

    "Instead of making false attacks, we urge Senator Obama to release all relevant financial and other information related to indicted political fixer Tony Rezko," Wolfson also said.

    Can someone inform Wolfson about Hsu? Hsu is a crrok and is in jail now. He funded Hillary's campaigns and when he as arrested, she had to return $850,000 (eight hundred and fifty thousand) to charity. Hillary should release her tax returns now as well as her WH memos that she lied about during the last debate that Pres Bush was sitting on. What are you hiding Hillary?

    March 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Truth

    Republican will play two major cards in election: National security and NAFTA as McCain claimed.
    Hillary will defend herself well on focusing the strategy to end of War rather than playing blame game who was wrong in the beginning. She has also shown her urgency on National security crisis. So McCain may win a little bit but not the smoking gun because they can’t accuse her position on War...
    NAFTA is a very complicated and controversy issue, no one will be winner. It was a comprised deal with balancing power and international interests.
    However, Hillary got three swords that will kill Republican: economy (McCain admitted himself not an expert), Healthcare and immigration reform.. That is the bottom line that Superdelegates are looking for...
    Obama has no match on all the issues to McCain since he got no experiences.. The advantage he got is to bring more independent votes and young votes...
    McCain is a moderate Rep so he will secure enough independent vote to crown all red states.. For younger vote, they just sway by...
    Scandals: Hillary got all known scandals and Rep can't dig anything new; However, Obama claimed himself off dirty politics but actually came from the biggest dirty politics in his home town. Rep likes to dig that more...

    March 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Kerry

    Ever wonder why Hillary is not hitting Obama hard about Rezko?

    Have you all seen the picture of Tony Rezko sandwiched in between Bill and Hillary Clinton? Do a simple for clinton and rezko and you'll find the picture.

    The Clintons know all top DNC fundraisers. At least 12 of their closest buddies are in jail right now, with more to join them.

    March 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. Buddy, OR

    She wins the states that Dems have to win to get elected!
    What are my fellow Dems thinking? Is the party really considering about not including FL and MI, two states that are proven to be crucial in the Presidental Elections.
    Oh and counting FL and MI she has the LEAD in the popular VOTE!
    Go Hillary

    March 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. Brian

    No one is suppressing the voters from FL and MI......their votes were stripped by their own leaders. The math also shows that Clinton cannot catch Obama in the delegate count even using their numbers.....time for a reality check for some along with a math refresher......

    March 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. steve ohio

    Hillary would sell her child to become President, There will be no "dream ticket" because Hillary would never take the Vice President role. Pelosi is correct the democrats need to finish this process if they have any hope of winning the white house. The republicans will destroy Hillary, the democrats have one chance at the white house and that is Obama.

    March 5, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. MANDY

    Did Pelosi receive a phone call from McCain thanking her for allowing Clinton to do his dirty work?

    Did Pelosi thank Limbaugh for all the extra votes for Hillary? Isn't it great when the Republican Right Wing want a specific candidate?

    Makes you wonder where Pelosi stands.

    March 5, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. simon

    Based on the numbers on how people voted from the primary results, it does clearly indicate that Hillary is the better candidate of the two to go against McCain. In order for us to win in November... Vote for Hillary!

    March 5, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. GoHill

    Clearly many of the Obama supporters, having chosen the candidate able to unify people, aren't even willing to take the step of unifying the democratic party. And do not care that their candidate (the uniter) has not chosen to suggest that option. That of unity.
    What a concept!!!!!
    The votes are about 50/50 %- neither has nor can get a mandate.
    The joint ticket is not only viable, but doable and appeases both- pretty evenly divided- sides.
    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.
    That is why the mature voters went with Hillary and the kids jumped on the Obama celebrity bandwagon. Celebrities are out for fame and for their own legacy.
    True leaders, like Hillary, are unselfish and do not permit ego and arrogance and a sense of entitlement to cloud their judgement. They fight, fight, fight for the chance to serve and to better the people.
    I'm awed by this GREAT lady, her charm, her humor and her ability to command respect by taking the high road.
    Obama- if he is sincere- should be not only willing, but glad to serve alongside her

    March 5, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. balthus

    Nobody's suppressing the vote in MI or FL. State officials, prior to the start of the campaign and well aware of the penalty if they proceeded, chose to ignore the determination of the national party that they not move their primaries forward. They did so anyway, and were penalized accordingly, well before the primary began. Those voters who cast ballots in MI and FL knew – or at least should have known – their votes wouldn't count.

    It's typical of the Clinton campaign that they will attempt to steal this election by changing the rules after the fact. They've already thrown their ktichen sink of garbage at Obama, used Rovian tactics to defeat him in Texas and Ohio, and driven this campaign into the gutter. Why not cheat to win? After all, all it takes is a little spin, and a compliant press, to pretend it doesn't matter one bit!

    March 5, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. j

    I beieve it is only fair that Clinton bring out her taxes
    of 2005,2006 and 2007.
    I do believe if she becomes president she will not bring out
    all her tax information due to the fact that she is comander
    in chief.

    March 5, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. Nathan

    Clinton cannot withstand republican attacks. Hillary promised universal health care in 1992, and was unable to fullfill it. She wants to garnish people's wages if they do not pay for health care. That is very communistic and unconstitutional. She wants to mandate legislation to mandate healthcare pricing. This would bring down companies that generate billions of dollars every year that helps our economy. Yeah, right.

    If she was this expert on health care, she'd know that America must do what every other civilized nation has done: the government provide health care for everyone.

    March 5, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. Calculus

    The latest pledged delegate count (not including Texas caucus results) shows Obama with a 1344-1208 lead, or 136 delegates. There's roughly 611 delegates left to be decided, meaning Clinton has to win at least 62% (depending on Texas caucus outcome) of the remaining vote across ALL states, including Obama's strongholds. To date, I think she's only achieved that mark in two out of the 41 contests, or 4.88% of the time. With 12 contests to go, it's just not going to happen.

    For the mathematically challenged, this race is as over as could be. The only reason the media is making it seem like there's anything left is to drive up ratings. Even majoring in miracles won't save Hillary Huckabee now...

    March 5, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. Frank

    Jeremy March 5th, 2008 2:26 pm ET

    Yes. It is time for Obama to bow out. Thank you. Stop your cult slogan "Yes, we can!".

    "Yes, we can!""Yes, we can!""Yes, we can!""Yes, we can!""Yes, we can!"…. But HOW can you?

    With all due respect, Jeremy – You are an idiot.

    You candidate has lost 12 of 15 contests after Super Tuesday. She has never been in the delegate lead. Now, THAT sounds to YOU as if your candidate is winning and Obama has to give up. Say, did you go to school at all ?

    March 5, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. MA

    I am an Obama supporter, but i agree that they should let process continue.
    I believe Hilary won last night by playing the muslim card, the nafta card and the fear card.
    Most of the voters fell for it.

    March 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. truth be told

    mitch and flor?

    put michigan and florida to rest. it was their representatives undoing! both hillary and barrack, together with the other democrat candidates, who signed off on these procedures when hillary was the "annointed one." if, because of hillary's whining that these rules are changed mid-stream, then imagine what the consequences will be, not just the year's election but years down the road.

    i agree, michigans and floridians are americans as well and deserved to be recognized, but rules are rules. everybody should abide by them.

    March 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Maria

    And Hillary will be the nominee!

    March 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Where's Bill Clinton?

    Just a thought...I was watching ALL the speeches from yesterday. Mike Huckabee was with his wife...John McCain was beside his wife...Obama's wife lead him out to the stage to speak...BUT WHERE IS BILL CLINTON?!?....I"m I the only one noticing that Hillary Clinton and her campagin are trying to HIDE Bill Clinton? Why do I not see them together...You only see Hillary by herself or with their daughter, or you see Bill by himself or with their daughter...Interesting Hillary...Do you honesty think Republicans will not pick up on this if you win the nomination?!?

    March 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. Ronald Reagan, Hell


    ....I should have been a liberal, not betray them.................


    March 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. Alice in Florida

    I am thoroughly disgusted that my own party stole my vote. It's happened before, but what can you expect from Republicans?

    I don't know why people keep flapping their mouths about "a deal is a deal" – we, the Florida VOTERS did not make any "deal," and our votes should mean just as much as anybody else's.

    I have sent an email to the DNC expressing my disgust with them. They may regret their stupid decision. Florida IS a big state, and I and many others might just make sure our votes count in November by voting McCain if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

    March 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. Pete NYC

    McCain never said anything about a 100-year war anywhere and Pelosi knows it or she is brick stupid. We aren't at war in Germany or Japan anymore but have been in both more than 60 years.

    As to the "electoral process" in the Democratic Party, that is a bad joke. MI and FL don't count (because they wouldn't abide by the DNC-dictated schedule) and the superdelegates are being strong-armed to vote according to the will of the voters when the entire superdelegate system – which shows how poorly these people reason – is designed to direct the nominee in the absence of the will of the people determining the nominee by a specific delegate count. Neither Obama or Clinton are going to make that count without superdelegates and they have NO OBLIGATION, moral or otherwise, to vote with the popular primary voters. Who should they show allegiance to? The national count? Their state or precinct count? Their friend and long-time politcal ally? Oprah?

    The DNC was mistaken to change the winner-take-all nature of the primaries because in a real election that is how it works.

    March 5, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Indus

    Who is listening to Pelosi. Pelosi is following the BHO line –

    SD should vote according to her district
    MI and FL should not be counted.

    How about telling that to Kennedy and Kerry in the senate the same rules
    SD should vote according to her district as well let her reps in CA vote for HRC as she won CA.

    March 5, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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