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.