WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday she favors a reduction in the number of superdelegates _ and their oversized influence _ in choosing the Democratic Party's nominee.
Superdelegates such as Pelosi have bemoaned the protracted fight between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama for the nomination. Neither candidate can win the nod based solely on pledged delegates. Rather the nearly 800 superdelegates _ members of Congress, election officials and party elders who aren't bound by state results _ will decide the nomination.
Asked how she would make the process more democratic, Pelosi recommended cutting the number of superdelegates.
"I think you diminish the number of them, you make sure everybody knows in advance what their role is, you make sure everybody knows how you can get to be one and you'll have a more open process," she said during a taping of mtvU "Editorial Board" show at George Washington University.
The California Democrat did not say how many superdelegates would be appropriate in future elections or how they should be chosen. But she criticized the influence of this year's group and said the party should do a better job making the public aware of the rules that give them such power.
Pelosi, who hasn't endorsed a candidate, has said it would be damaging to the Democratic Party for its leaders to buck the will of national convention delegates picked in primaries and caucuses. According to the latest Associated Press tally of delegates, Obama leads Clinton, 1,638-1,501. Clinton has the edge among superdelegates, 251-224.
No matter what the outcome of the 10 remaining contests, it will be nearly impossible for Clinton to overcome Barack Obama's lead in pledged delegates because they are awarded proportionally based on the outcome.
Last month, 20 top Democratic donors who are supporting Clinton criticized Pelosi for saying superdelegates should support the presidential candidate with the most pledged delegates.
Pelosi said Tuesday superdelegates should have a role in certain circumstances, such as quickly picking a new nominee if the original choice was suddenly unable to serve. Then again, Pelosi suggested, maybe the entire system needs an overhaul.
"Perhaps we should subject the whole electoral process in the country for president to some review and say, maybe it's regional primaries, but there must be a more orderly way to do this," she said.
The Republican Party is moving to regain control of its presidential primary calendar four years from now. A party rules committee voted last week to allow small states to hold nominating contests before big states in 2012, which would preserve the traditional roles of Iowa and New Hampshire as the earliest voting states. Larger states would be placed into three groups that would rotate the dates of their nominating contests.