5.08.2008

Candidates meet with supers, Clinton nixes Michigan plan

As the Democratic Party seeks to find a way out of its nomination imbroglio, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama met with uncommitted superdelegates over the past two days. Yesterday, Clinton held meetings at the DCCC headquarters; today, it was Obama's turn. Campaigns surrogates are insisting that there are scores of superdelegates who are "undeclared" but privately committed to Obama though those endorsements have been very slow to materialize. Today, however, Obama got two congressional endorsements: Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina and Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington. (Speaking of, Politio's chart of all supers by state and by function is the best page I have yet seen to track superdelegates.)

Pressure might be mounting on the Clinton campaign but they are showing no sign of being hurried. The Michigan Democratic Party recently proposed a plan to divide its state's pledged delegate 69-59 and speculation was that Clinton would accept it now that she was in a less powerful position. But her campaign nixed the Michigan proposal this afternoon and insisted that they would accept no plan that did not award her the number of delegates she would be entitled under the January 15th vote (73). The campaign spokesperson said: "This proposal does not honor the 600,000 votes that were cast in Michigan's January primary. Those votes must be counted."

Contrary to talk that the Florida Democratic Party was ready to follow the lead of its Michigan counterpart and find its solution to the delegate mess, a party spokesperson is now saying that there is no deal being prepared in FL.

I take Clinton's quick counter to the Michigan plan to be the first sign since Tuesday that she is serious about staying in the race until primaries are over in June. The quest to seat the FL and MI delegates and give a "voice" to those two states has become a central rationale of her candidacy. Accepting a deal like Michigan's (which would probably be followed by a similar one out of Florida) would remove that rationale without getting Clinton that much closer to Obama. Clinton today wrote a letter to her rival in which she asks him to help her campaign find a solution to the FL and MI mess. She (correctly) blames his campaign for nixing plans of holding revotes in both states and phrases the issue in terms the party's general election chances:

One of the foremost principles of our party is that citizens be allowed to vote and that those votes be counted. That principle is not currently being applied to the nearly 2.5 million people who voted in primaries in Florida and Michigan. Whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee will be hamstrung in the general election if a fair and quick resolution is not reached that ensures that the voices of these voters are heard. Our commitment now to this goal could be the difference between winning and losing in November.

Note that Obama can afford to accept Clinton's conditions in both FL and MI without undermining his hold on the nomination; if anything, it would make Clinton's path more difficult as she would no longer be able to portray herself as the sole defender of the rogue states' voices.

Update: The Clinton campaign is now also claiming to have superdelegates who have privately committed, as this Politico story reports. This confirms how little credence should be given to these private commitments -- including those of the Obama campaign. However, this article is the most realistic take on the race that Clinton staffers are accepting to take as they are professing that they are attempting to gauge who among the uncommitted supers is looking to move towards Hillary to judge whether she remains viable.

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11 Comments:

  • Both Obama and Clinton will need these states counted to win the GE. Obama's resistance to it is fueling Clinton's campaign. His own greedy opportunism is creating his opposition. If you don't give, you don't get. We're not taking off the training wheels (Clinton) until he learns to be presidential. He's running out of time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 18:53  

  • Well I guess any talk of Clinton leaving the race quitely is not to be: she is not going to drop out until it is clear that she cannot win, and getting MI and FL is part of her last ditch plan.

    Taniel in a way you are right: if Obama simply accepts Clinton plan (and he gets the uncommited delegates from MI) then his delegate lead would shrink considerably but it would still hold. I think that Obama is hestiaing becuase if his delegate lead is shortened, then in theory it will be easier for the SDs to decide to overtake Obama's PD lead and give Clinton the nomination (as it would look more like a tie rather than a Obama lead). In addition, I'm sure Obama would be very bitter if Clinton basically gets "freebie" delegates, as he could have narrowed or even gotten rid of (in case of MI) Clinton's leads in these states if he had actually campaigned against her. And even if Obama still wins the nomination because of this, it could give a rational for Clinton supporters to not to support him in fall, damaging his chances in November.

    Just my thought on what the Obama campaign is thinking.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 08 May, 2008 18:58  

  • As always, Hillary is a rambling professional 'pander bear'. She AGREED in the first place that Florida and Michigan will face consequences for violating party rules, and she even mentioned last year won't count at all. of course, she was the overwhelming favorite at the time.
    This woman is so obsessed with self-centeredness that she knows no unity and is primarily concerned with her own political ambitions with little or no regard to the future of the Democratic Party.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 19:20  

  • Hillary Clinton's agreement with Dean on the Delegate issue isn't relevant. Everyone including Barack knew this issue was on hold until the convention. Everybody knew it would be at least modified if not reversed. Obama and Edwards conspired to hang up the resolution of this by withdrawing their names in Mi. Edwards "suspends" his campaign and leaves the brother hangin'. Now Obama has it hanging over his head that he's a suppressionist. If he doesn't go along with a complete reversal, he loses. If he goes along, he risks losing the nomination, but guarantees a victory in the general. Is he presidential material or is he just a scammer from the 'hood? It's a big decision that he can't ignore.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 19:46  

  • The campaign spokesperson said: "This proposal does not honor the 600,000 votes that were cast in Michigan's January primary. Those votes must be counted."

    The problem with just counting the Michigan results is that it does not honor the 40,000 to 70,000 votes that Democrats cast in the Republican primary because they were told that the Democratic primary wouldn't mean anything, never mind the many eligible independents who did the same thing. And given that moderates and independents have, I believe, generally favored Obama, the 69-59 split would not seem unfair to the Clinton campaign (it may actually be generous).

    As for Obama's delegate lead, even assuming Clinton gets 70% in WV and KT and a split in OR, he will have secured the pledged delegate count in two weeks. Depending on how the rest of the contests go and how the superdelegates line up, there may be room to give Clinton the Michigan delegates she wants. But it just may be too early for a deal right now.

    By the way, while Obama may have "nixed" the revote in Michigan (I don't know enough about the details but will assume it's true), my understanding is that it was for a good reason. If people who wanted to vote in the Democratic primary but voted in the Republican primary instead were not allowed to revote, it would throw off the results, probably to Obama's detriment. But an open primary would be a magnet for Republican meddling. I don't think the Clinton campaign, nor anyone else, found a good way around that problem.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 08 May, 2008 19:52  

  • All this anguish over how to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations is really of little importance. They will work out an arrangement in due course and it will all be forgotten by the fall. The race is over(check out the Time cover)and the MSM win soon move on to Obama vs McCain. Hillary will become the new Huckabee and her superdelegates will start to bleed to Obama if she does not except a deal (VP or paying off her debt etc.) and exit gracefully by mid June. Her SD's are already getting antsy about her hard stance since Tuesday.

    By Anonymous Fritz, At 08 May, 2008 21:51  

  • Don't forget that there are other interests involved here besides Obama's, Clinton's and Michigan and Florida's. There are some influential party officials who would be royally ticked at Obama if he were to accept seating Michigan and Florida without penalty. If you do that, after all, you are acknowledging their primaries as legal and legitimate. And if you do THAT, as Rules and Bylaws Chair James Roosevelt has said, you face the very real prospect of the 2012 nomination process starting around Halloween 2011.

    By OpenID sjberke, At 08 May, 2008 22:20  

  • There are some influential party officials who would be royally ticked at Obama if he were to accept seating Michigan and Florida without penalty....you face the very real prospect of the 2012 nomination process starting around Halloween 2011.

    That's another aspect that is almost never addressed by those who support just seating Florida and Michigan.

    One solution might be to give Clinton her delegates--but give them all half-votes, as the Republicans have done. Even though it's hard to consider the Michigan election in any way legitimate, it "respects" the vote and would do little to imperil the outcome.

    But again, that outcome still may not be nailed down enough for both sides to agree to a deal--yet.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 08 May, 2008 22:30  

  • The damage done to the principle of the party is far more than any risk of a scheduling war. This issue of seating Fl. and Mi. is one of a fundamental policy difference between Democrats and republicans. These delegates must be counted and only if Obama can win more pledged delegates than Hillary with these contested ones, can they be halved. If the "punishment" for scheduling early gives this to Obama then the party is destroyed by this. Even if Hillary gets more pledged delegates as a result of including them, the superdelegates are responsible for making the choice. The concept of them being just ratifiers, as some assert, requires a complete abdication of their responsibility to pick the best candidate. We've heard this lame excuse many times and no matter how many party leaders clarify it, they persist in just being sheep. Pelosi's daughter should just give up her position if her wedding planning takes precedence over making an informed decision. I think her comments are what put Weinstein over the top. That kind of fairweather ambivilance is disgusting.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 09 May, 2008 07:40  

  • I have a feeling that Obama will not accept seating MI and FL by thier perspecitve January votes until Clinton drops out. As I said in my earlier post, Obama doesn't want to make it easier for clinton to take the nominatino based on the "freebie" victories she got in MI and FL.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 09 May, 2008 09:12  

  • The damage done to the principle of the party is far more than any risk of a scheduling war.

    Reasonable people can differ on that. A chaotic process for picking the party's most important standard-bearer can do terrible harm to the party.

    This issue of seating Fl. and Mi. is one of a fundamental policy difference between Democrats and republicans.

    First of all, Republicans did half the MI and FL delegate votes, so sanctions were imposed.

    Second, it does terrible damage to principles to recognize the result of an election that was invalid, and the problem in Michigan is that it's hard to see the vote there as being valid. With only one major candidate's name on the ballot, we don't know how many people stayed home. Many eligible votes voted in the open Republican primary instead, further skewing the Democratic results. And a fair revote was impossible, for reasons stated in my post above. So it would seem to me to be unfair to just count the Michigan results, halved or not.

    The concept of them being just ratifiers, as some assert, requires a complete abdication of their responsibility to pick the best candidate.

    Someone has to go last even when the issue has already been decided, but it doesn't mean they're disenfranchised or that democratic principles have been sacrificed. Ron Wyden votes last in every Senate roll call vote, but he still represents the views of his constituents of Oregon even if his vote will usually not affect the outcome.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 09 May, 2008 09:17  

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