POLITICS

Clinton Camp Dismisses Main Objections To Restoring Florida And Michigan

06/05/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With the Rules and Bylaws Committee set to weigh in on what to do with Michigan and Florida's unofficial delegations, aides and supporters to Sen. Hillary Clinton downplayed two of the main criticisms to seating both states according to their primary results.

On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, aides to Clinton brushed off the suggestion that seating 100 percent of Florida and Michigan's delegation would send the message that states could disregard the Democratic National Committee's primary calendar with impunity.

"As to the effect that this would have on states in the future," said Tina Flournoy, a Clinton supporter and a member of the RBC committee. "We believe that this rule has achieved the goal it was designed to achieve. I don't believe that any state wants to go through what Michigan and Florida has gone through in 2012."

She went on: "I can tell you based on the relentless number of emails... for anyone to think that this has not been a punishment or that any other state will take lightly the idea of moving up their primary has not been party to what has gone on for the past year and a half."

Both Florida and Michigan had their Democratic delegations stripped by the DNC after moving their elections before Super Tuesday. The GOP downsized each state's delegations by half.

Clinton aides were similarly non-affected by the argument that counting the January elections in those two states would disenfranchise those voters who didn't go to the polls because they thought the primaries would not count. Asked by email what his message would be to those disaffected Floridians, Howard Wolfson, Clinton's chief spokesman wrote:

"That 1.7 million did vote -- a record turnout -- and those votes should count."

Pressed as to whether the campaign was acknowledging the existence of this bloc of upset non-voters and whether, put simply, their position was that it was better to disenfranchise this group as opposed to the 1.7 million Florida Democrats who did vote, Wolfson replied:

"I hear you, and I will let you make the argument for the other side."

The arguments were part of a broader push by the Clinton campaign to legitimize the idea that both unofficial primary elections should be settled in their current format. Aides to the New York Democrat, as they have in the past, continued to argue on Tuesday that Florida's delegation should be seated in its entirety and that Michigan - where Sen. Barack Obama was not on the ballot - should have its "uncommitted" delegates remain uncommitted.

"We are going to go to the committee with our position we think it is a fair position, within the construct of the rules," said Harold Ickes, one of Clinton's chief strategists. "And very importantly we think it is the position that recognizes the votes of 2.3 million people which can not just be blithely set aside, which the Obama campaign has been seemingly ready to do month after month."

The conference call came hours after the DNC's lawyers sent out a memo suggesting that no more than half of Florida and Michigan's delegates were likely to be restored. If that parameter was to be upheld, and there was dispute about it on the Clinton call, it would deal another blow to the New York Democrat. Ickes acknowledged that, even with Florida and Michigan restored, the campaign expected to be more than 100 pledged delegates behind Obama when all the primaries are concluded.

Later in the day, the Obama camp held a call of its own, in which the Senator's chief strategist, David Plouffe, restated his boss' position on Michigan and Florida. Not surprisingly, it didn't exactly contort with what Clinton had in mind.

"We're not going to support something that gives her too many delegates," he said, "but we're open to something where she's going to net delegates, and not an insignificant number."

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