Hillary Clinton Tries To Steal Nomination

Hillary Clinton might have pulled her attack ad on Obama in South Carolina less than twenty-four hours after receiving criticism for its dishonesty, but this doesn’t mean she hasn’t discontinued her dirty tricks. Clinton is trying to circumvent party rules and have the Michigan and Florida delegates seated. Clinton won the Michigan caucus due to being the only major candidate to leave her name on the ballot after all the candidates agreed not to campaign in the state. Many bloggers feel she has now gone too far.

Ezra Klein writes:

This is the sort of decision that has the potential to tear the party apart. In an attempt to retain some control over the process and keep the various states from accelerating their primaries into last Summer, the Democratic National Committee warned Michigan and Florida that if they insisted on advancing their primary debates, their delegates wouldn’t be seated and the campaigns would be asked not to participate in their primaries. This was agreed to by all parties (save, of course, the states themselves).

With no one campaigning, Clinton, of course, won Michigan — she was the only Democrat to be on the ballot, as I understand it, which is testament to the other campaign’s beliefs that the contest wouldn’t count — and will likely win Florida. And because the race for delegates is likely to be close, she wants those wins to matter. So she’s fighting the DNC’s decision, and asking her delegates — those she’s already won, and those she will win — to overturn it at the convention. She’s doing so right before Florida, to intensify her good press in the state, where Obama is also on the ballot. And since this is a complicated, internal-party matter that sounds weird to those not versed in it (of course Michigan and Florida should count!), she’s adding a public challenge that, if the other Democrats deny, will make them seem anti-Michigan and Florida.

But if this pushes her over the edge, the Obama camp, and their supporters, really will feel that she stole her victory. They didn’t contest those states because they weren’t going to count, not because they were so committed to the DNC’s procedural arguments that they were willing to sacrifice dozens of delegates to support it. It’s as hard as hardball gets, and the end could be unimaginably acrimonious. Imagine if African-American voters feel the rules were changed to prevent Obama’s victory, if young voters feel the delegate counts were shifted to block their candidate.

Josh Marshall provides another explanation of the situation and concludes, “everyone else should see this for what it is and say No.”

Robert Farley writes:

It’s dirty business on the part of the Clinton campaign, no question. And cloaking the nasty little power grab with the language of democratic inclusion irritates me even more. I can’t say that I’m completely surprised, but I would have preferred if Hillary had demonstrated more appreciation for party unity than this; it amounts to an effort to steal delegates.

Barack Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, responded:

No one is more disappointed that Florida Democrats will have no role in selecting delegates for the nomination of the party’s standard bearer than Senator Obama. When Senator Clinton was campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, she made it clear that states like Michigan and Florida that wouldn’t produce any delegates, ‘don’t count for anything.’ Now that Senator Clinton’s worried about losing the first Southern primary, she’s using Florida for her own political gain by trying to assign meaning to a contest that awards zero delegates and where no campaigning has occurred. Senator Clinton’s own campaign has repeatedly said that this is a ‘contest for delegates’, and Florida is a contest that offers zero. Whether it is Barack Obama’s record, her position on Social Security, or even the meaning of the Florida Primary, it seems like Hillary Clinton will do or say anything to win an election. When he is the nominee, Barack Obama will campaign vigorously in Florida and Michigan to put them in the Democratic column in 2008.

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7 Comments

  1. 1
    deb says:

    I think this is yet another disgrace! I used to think Bill Clinton was a good president but after the last few weeks I see why the Republicans hate him so much. Not only are they liars but they are cheaters who don’t give a darn about their party or their country.

  2. 2
    David Weisman says:

    I hate so say, but we’re going to see this again in November – even if Obama wins and some of Clinton’s supporters join him.

  3. 3
    plum says:

    Thanks for the post. I didn’t know that. This is pretty much of a piece with the attempted Nevada disenfranchisement (although, to be fair, I don’t think Clinton supported that directly).

    Interesting point: I followed that link to LGM and read through the comments. A couple of Clinton supporters show up and can you believe it, they actually try to rationalize this as a valid political move by Clinton?

    Not only do Scott and Rob Farley give them short shrift, but Rob writes:

    “Scott is right; this amounts to fraud. And I say that as someone who was leaning very slightly towards Obama before this, and is leaning very strongly towards him now.”

    So there’s some evidence that Clinton’s dishonest tactics are costing her support among bloggers. Whether the same effect will happen among primary voters in time for Feb 5, however, is a different thing.

  4. 4
    converse says:

    Re-do is the only fair way. Just like grade school kickball, re-do.

    If nominee has not been decided by June 3rd (last day of currently scheduled primaries) and Michigan and Florida still want to be re-enfranchised, then they must each schedule primary elections within x number of days (well before August convention), giving all remaining candidates ample time to campaign.

    States screwed up, so they have to nullify early elections and pay for the re-do election, if they want it. DNC agrees to honor results and seat delegates determined at re-do elections.

  5. 5
    Out with the Old, in with the New says:

    While we not have evidence that the Clintons are directly linked to the Nevada Teacher’s Union lawsuit to disenfranchise workers, trust me, Bill Clinton support their lawsuit, and openly defends their action.

    In any case, these attempts to change the rules midgame to fit their goals is despicable. The Clintons have had their reign, and now, it is time for them to go. I only wish other Clinton-ites can see through their ploy and revolt.

  6. 6
    Anonymous says:

    I can tell you that myself, some friends and family have gotten turned off by the Clinton’s behaviour to do anything to win. Their behavior and distortions, like on Meet the Press, in which Hilalry said: “Sen. Obama’s chief strategist accuses me of playing a role in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.” When in actuality David Axelrod never made such an accusation. He said former Prime Minister Bhutto’s death will ”call into issue the judgment” of ”taking the eye off the ball and making the wrong judgment in going into Iraq.” and their recent attempt at voter suppresion in Nevada, entering racially devisive remarks into the campaign to dvide black and white voters. A compelling story can be heard from the former President of Now, Lorna Brett Howard, who Switched from Clinton to Obama, You Tube Video in which she explains that Hillary lied on Obama in regards to womens’ issues so she is now supporting Obama.

    These kinds of demeaning and unethical tactics from both of the Clintons, have shown a number of people another side to them which they did not know existed and it does not look pretty. In their attempt to achieve power, they have divided the paty and it is a deep division. They seem more like Karl-Rove Republicans than Democrats and it is a shame to see their moral demise! There is a negative way to fight (lies and distortions) and a positive way to fight. The leaders we elect into the highest office of the land should be men and women of principal and high moral character and should not engage in behavior unbefitting the highest office in the land.

    In the future, there will have to be some kind of Campaign Reform: Rules and Regulations from the Perspective Parties in the way politicians run their campaigns to keep them truthful and from distorting one another’s records.

    I will not vote for Hillary if she wins the Democratic Primary be these kinds of tactics!

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    I have a set of videos from Lorna Brett Howard posted. Thanks to a link at the New York Times this was the most viewed post here ever. (Unfortunately traffic got so heavy that it wound up shutting down the blog for a couple of hours yesterday.)

    I’ve been wondering if there is anyway to police such conduct and penalize a candidate for flagrantly lying as Clinton has done about Obama. That would be quite tough. I don’t see any way to do so in a general election. Perhaps this could be done in a primary campaign as the party’s could sanction candidates by loss of delegates. That would still be difficult as it is often a fine line between hardball politics and lying (with Clinton clearly crossing the line this year).

    There’s also the problem of how you handle surrogates since the candidate can argue that they can’t control everything a surrogate says. Clinton used surrogates to bring race into the campaign leaving Clinton room to deny the tactic. Bill Clinton is responsible for much of the problem this year and obviously everything he says is coordinated with Hillary, but he is still not officially the candidate.

    Hillary will sure have a tough time if McCain is the nomination. All he has to say when campaigning is that even if you don’t agree with me I’ll tell the truth about what I’m doing and he’ll beat Hillary even on issues where voters might otherwise agree with Hillary.

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