Thursday, May 22, 2008

Obama Speaks To Fla. Press, Suggests 50% of Delegates

Obama Speaks To Fla. Press, Suggests 50% of Delegates

In his first interview with a Florida reporter since signing the early state pledge last August, Barrack Obama said he would be open to seating a Florida delegation based on the Jan. 31 primary results at 50 percent strength.

Obama said he had no choice politically but to go along with Iowa and three other early states and pledge not to campaign in Florida and Michigan, the two states that scheduled early primaries in violation of Democratic party rules.

"Had we not agreed to that, we would be in a position where on the one hand, the DNC was telling you, 'This won't count.' On the other hand, you've gone out of your way to offend the first two states (Iowa and New Hampshire) where you know that it will count," Obama told the St. Petersburg Times. "I would hardly call that voluntary."

Obama, making his first Florida stop since the primary, said counting Florida's disputed primary votes and cutting the state's delegation to the convention in half would be "a very reasonable solution."

But Hillary Clinton thus far has refused any solution to the Florida-Michigan standoff other than seating both states at full strength and basing the delegates on the primary results. Recent campaign statements have compared the unseated delegations to the Florida 2000 recount, the civil rights marches of the 1960s, the women's suffrage movement, and even the recent disputed election in Zimbabwe.

"It's such an important principle in our country: when the voters speak, we count their votes," reads a Clinton campaign fund raising email sent under the candidate's name Thursday. Clinton's claim that she has a popular vote lead, a key part of her appeal to superdelegates, hinges on including the totals from Florida and, more importantly, Michigan, where Obama was not on the ballot.

The Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee is scheduled to settle the issue at a May 31 meeting, though its decision can be appealed to the August national convention.

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