May 31st, 2008
07:17 AM ET
15 years ago

Democrats' late night session falls short on MI, FL delegations


[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Protesters voice their concerns outside the DNC headquarters on Capitol Hill in April."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bleary-eyed Democrats failed to reach consensus early Saturday morning on a plan to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations - setting up a potentially explosive hearing later in the day between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on how to address this politically sensitive situation.

Members of the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws panel convened for more than five hours behind closed doors Friday evening. The meeting ended at 1:30 a.m. ET Saturday - eight hours before the committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter.

Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton disagree over how best to address the situation of Michigan and Florida, which were penalized for holding their primaries early. The DNC sanctioned Michigan and Florida by excluding them from representation when the party nominates a candidate at the August convention.

"It was a full discussion," said Harold Ickes, a DNC Rules member from the District of Columbia who supports Clinton. "I think there was some agreement on some issues and still some disagreements on others."

The Democratic presidential hopefuls have both said they want the Florida and Michigan delegates to attend the convention, but Clinton's campaign is calling for the results of the primaries to be honored and the delegates awarded based on the results. This approach would help her chip away at Obama's lead in pledged delegates because handily won both states and would be awarded a greater share of the delegates.

Obama's campaign disagrees, saying that this is not reasonable because he followed the rules, took his name off of the Michigan ballot, and did not campaign in either state.

"Right now what we have to do is to figure our way through all of this and I believe we will," said Allan Katz, a DNC Rules member from Florida who supports Obama. "And I believe we will come up with something tomorrow. There will probably be a little sort of tussling but we are Democrats." Right now, with no Michigan or Florida delegates included, Obama leads Clinton by 202 delegates. He needs 42 more to clinch the nomination.

A potential compromise plan would be to have each state be penalized 50 percent of its delegate representation, but allow every delegate to attend the convention with a half vote.

The Rules committee will address two main issues at its hearing Saturday morning: how many delegates each state is allowed and how those delegates will be allocated between the two candidates.

"How do you recognize the people who didn't vote and how do you recognize the people that did vote and how do we at the same time maintain the integrity of the process," said Martha Fuller Clark, a DNC Rules member from New Hampshire and Obama supporter. "And there are no easy answers."

James Roosevelt, Jr., the DNC Rules committee co-chair from Massachusetts, described the meeting as "spirited because people on this committee have a strong feeling about the rules and about the importance of them." But he added, "It was not unpleasant or heated."

Roosevelt also predicted that a resolution will be reached, but said there would be dissenting votes.

"I can't predict that it will be unanimous," he said. "I do think that it will be unifying for the party."

Filed under: DNC • Florida • Michigan
soundoff (387 Responses)
  1. Suziku

    Why on earth should hillary be rewarded for NOT going by the rules?!
    Once again she cheated and now wants to somehow win based on the bogus numbers she "thinks" she has. Obama followed the rules, took his name off the ballot in Michigan as required, she did NOT, he did NOT campaign in Florida, she did! If anything, she should be punished! She has turned into, or maybe always has been, the most egotistical, dishonest, self entitled, nasty, whining witch and IF they allow her to somehow steal the nomination from Obama I think the Democratic party will lose thousands of members and there would be a revolt in this country. The longer this goes on the more hillary and her crazy supporters divide the party and the country! BE GONE HILLARY!

    May 31, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. Georgia

    Obama did not follow all the rules. The rules did not require him to take his name off the ballot and he did run ads and post signs in Florida. -Count ALL the votes do not apportion any votes to Obama that were not specifically cas t for him. You cannot make a judgement about who voters would have voted for if the circumstances were different.

    The DNC should never havbe made these rules they were only trying to "fix" the race for Obama. It back fired. WRITE IN HILLARY!

    May 31, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Tom, Boston MA

    these bozos are fake democrats dispatched by karl rove and his neocon masters, to manipulate the election process.

    May 31, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  4. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    If Hillary somehow manages to pull off getting the DNC to bend to her will, I will lose all faith in the political process. After George W's 2000 coup in Florida, they should be rising above, not showing that the Democrats are no better than the Republicans. Unfortunately, Hillary has shown herself to be just like the man she is trying to replace... same character, differant stripe. She has her own Carl Rove.

    May 31, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. Leftfromthestart

    So Howard Dean is mad at the media. So what? I'm mad at Howard Dean–and I'm not even part of the media. TODAY is when the Rules Committee makes decisions; it was not supposed to be decided last night in some backroom deal. Those of us who want to vote for change in November are constantly reminded by Democrats that when we run Congress we don't get anything done, we can't even run our party (if we did we'd say the rules don't change and MI and FL don't get one delegate because they broke the rules), and we cut deals behind closed doors. I am about one day away from going Green Party this year.

    May 31, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Ben

    How can the Democrat Representatives in the State of Florida ever be respected when way back in 2007 they could have solved this avoidable problem.....Shame on Floridas Reps. Sorry for the voters, HRC and Obama.

    May 31, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. Jan

    Highly doubt that the DNC can make a decision and stick to it; if that were the case, this discussion wouldn't be happening. If this is any indication of how dems plan on running the country; this raises serious concerns. It will help the GOP.

    May 31, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Donovan, Brownstown, MI

    I LOVE how the Clinton Cultists want ALL of the votes in MI and FL counted ... ALL the delegates seated ... when Obama wasn't even on the ballot! Hmmm ... millions of votes to ZERO?!? Don't think so Clinton Cultists! It's not going to happen. Even MENTIONING that fiasco of an idea just shows how low you people will stoop to SLEAZE your way into the White House! You Clinton Cultists are just as bad as Rove!

    May 31, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. Kell Ca

    Obama leads Clinton by 202 delegates. He needs 41 more to clinch the nomination.

    what else is there to know.

    It's clear the people have spoken. Obama is the choice.

    Fl and Mich broke the rules. AND Hillary signed the agreement not to seat these votes.

    its just because she is losing.


    May 31, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. r dadufalza

    I don't understand it. When I give my children rules, if they break them, they get punished. No Ifs, Ands or Buts. The way I see it, rules were described by the DNC that were applicable to all states regarding when they are able to hold their respective primaries. Not all states followed the rules, so, MI and FL were punished, per the DNC rules, for not following instructions. The Democratic candidates were instructed not to campaign there and it was determined that those states' delegates would bear the consequence of the state's actions; they are not being seated at the Democratic National Convention. Plain and simple, my children can understand that. Clinton and Obama understood the rules at the time, not campaining in those states, Obama even removing his name from the ballot in MI. Seemed like both candidates agreed that the state's punishment was reasonable since they broke the rules. Fast forward to today. There is a meeting of the DNC to try and come to a resolution to the issue of seating the delegates from FL and MI. Forgive me if I am stating the obvious, but it is just that that confounds me. Now Clinton is crying foul? What, what what! Now there is a problem with the seating of the delegates? I agree, the voters of those states need to be represented. It was not by their design that their delegates are not being seated. I don't see this as punishing the voters, I see this as punishing the institution that BROKE THE RULES. HOW HARD IS THAT TO UNDERSTAND! YES, the DNC needs to determine how best to represent the voters in MI and FL. YES the voters deserve to have their voices heard. But what twisted, backwards thinking country are we living in if we can't agree and acknowledge that the problem was first caused by FL and MI not following the rules? I can't wait for Obama to be elected as our Commander in Chief. He represents everything that I have understood America to be. My father was an immigrant from the Philippines, came to Guam after the war for opportunity. He worked hard for everything he needed. He met my mother and raised 5 kids on a single income. He also managed to make enough money to help the family back in the Philippines. He is living his American dream in Guam. Sometimes I feel that statesiders don't understand that. I feel that a lot of what we in the states have is taken for granted. It seems like everyone is looking for the easy way. It is not ridiculous to dream big. These petty squabbles and potshots we Americans are taking at each other are helping to distract from the issues that should really matter. Sometimes I think we Americans have forgotten what those issues should be. Peace!

    May 31, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. Udhawuve Michael

    Clinton should be ashamed of herself for trying to betray the party's rule which she initially had agreed to. shows she capable of any dispicable behavior and should not be trusted with the us presidency. she lacks integrity, and a desperate power drunk. Bill should also be ashame being a former president and a world leader to be playing these dirty politics along with hillary.

    pls, all superdelages should take a position now and knock out this despot of a hillary. otherwise be ready to welcome John to the white house.


    May 31, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. bj-Houston - TX

    Florida and Michigan was an issue before the primaries and still is an issue: If anything, what is the rule on those who violate the rule of law? In the event that Democratic rules stipulated that there was not to be primary in those states as aerly as they were held, obviously they violated the stipulated governing law of Democratic party and any body who participated knowingly they wre going against the laid down rules must face the music including the presidential candidates involved who should know better. The candidates must have known better not to have their names on the ballot. No excuse! If leniency is to be applied to sit the delegates, whoever violated these rules by leaving their names on ballot...the ratio should be for violators 1/3 to 2/3 votes for non violators.

    May 31, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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