Friday, May 30, 2008

Clinton Campaign Backs Off On FL/MI Rhetoric

Clinton Campaign Backs Off On FL/MI Full Seating

In a conference call today, Hillary Clinton campaign officials acknowledged for the first time that Florida and Michigan broke Democratic Party rules by moving up their primaries, and thus cannot receive more than a half share of delegates.

Also, in a brief, Clinton attorneys wrote: "Rule 20(C)(7) allows the (Rules and Bylaws Committee) to forgive violations when a state party and other relevant Democratic party leaders and elected officials have taken provable, positive steps and acted in good faith to bring the state into compliance with the DNC’s Delegate Selection Rules."

The key phrase is "Forgive violations." Early in the campaign, Clinton and her supporters had said the calendar breaking states wouldn't count. But after she won them, the rhetoric shifted to "count every vote," and the argument changed to a claim that Michigan and Florida had not violated party rules since Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina had moved their dates up as well. Those moves were, of course, a ripple effect which started in response to Michigan and Florida.

Clinton spokesman Harold Ickes said on the call that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina acted fully within the rules, and specifically disputed the Michigan Democratic Party's claim that the DNC had selectively enforced its rules. He also said the DNC has acted within the rules when it stripped Michigan and Florida of all its delegates.

However, despite that acknowledgment, Ickes continued to argue for seating both Michigan and Florida at full strength, with results based on the too-early primaries, was the only acceptable solution.

Also this week, DNC attorneys argued that party rules require at least a 50 percent delegate penalty for violating the calendar.

Since the Obama campaign is not likely to object, and the Florida Democratic Party now says it's comfortable with half a vote, this means a half-vote per delegate is the likely outcome of Saturday's DNC Rules and Bylaws meeting. Writing for Daily Kos, Delaware Dem is more concise: "Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, the race is officially over. Barack Obama is the nominee."

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