WASHINGTON (AP) – Michigan and Florida alone can’t save Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign.
Interviews with those considering how to handle the two states’ banished convention delegates found little interest in the former first lady’s best-case scenario. Her position, part of a formidable comeback challenge, is that all the delegates be seated in accordance with their disputed primaries.
Even if they were, it wouldn’t erase Barack Obama’s growing lead in delegates.
The Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, a 30-member panel charged with interpreting and enforcing party rules, is to meet May 31 to consider how to handle Michigan and Florida’s 368 delegates.
Last year, the panel imposed the harshest punishment it could render against the two states after they scheduled primaries in January, even though they were instructed not to vote until Feb. 5
or later. Michigan and Florida lost all their delegates to the national convention, and all the Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in the two states, stripping them of all the influence
they were trying to build by voting early.
But now there is agreement on all sides that at least some of the delegates should be restored in a gesture of party unity and respect to voters in two general election battlegrounds.
Clinton has been arguing for full reinstatement, which would boost her standing. She won both states, even though they didn’t count toward the nomination and neither candidate campaigned in
them. Obama even had his name pulled from Michigan’s ballot.
The Associated Press interviewed a third of the panel members and several other Democrats involved in the negotiations and found widespread agreement that the states must be punished for stepping out of line. If not, many members say, other states will do the same thing in four years.
“We certainly want to be fair to both candidates, and we want to be sure that we are fair to the 48 states who abided by the rules,” said Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice
Germond, a panel member unaligned with either candidate. “We don’t want absolute chaos for 2012.