SNEAK PEEK: FL and MI Mulligans


The race for the Democratic nomination is about to enter uncharted waters – 41 days without a contest and no obvious events looming that could change the dynamics of this race.

(Luckily for those wanting breaking news, Eliot Spitzer's resignation provided 48 hours of salacious headlines, details and shifts in the superdelegate count.)

We are looking at a long stretch between now and the Pennsylvania primary – a stretch that will be notable for the inevitable dozens of dueling conference calls, surrogates detouring from talking points, and the campaigns' delegate trackers and reporters obsessing over those 300 or so uncommitted superdelegates

But one wild card that could make things a little more interesting as we head into spring – what to do about Michigan and Florida.

Hillary Clinton said today that the voters in those states are in peril of being excluded, ABC News' Eloise Harper reports, and called on Barack Obama to join her to make sure the votes there "count."

Watch the video HERE.

"The nearly two and a half million Americans in those two states who participated in the primary elections are in danger of being excluded from our democratic process and I think that is wrong," Clinton said.

Of course it's in Clinton's interest to seat those delegates, because she won both states and her campaign feels confident that she has enough support there to win a re-do election.

But over in Obama-land, they are singing a different tune. ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports that on a conference call with reporters today, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe all but ruled out the possibility, in their minds, of a mail-in vote in Florida and Michigan.

Plouffe outlined three options their campaign could see working:

-- A caucus. (Oh boy wouldn't they love a caucus!)

-- A full primary, which would come with considerable cost (about $8-10 million according to some estimates)

-- Some seating of the delegates "not based solely on the outcome of their elections" which Plouffe called the "easiest option" and follows Chris Dodd's suggestion of a 50-50 split of the delegates (even though Obama was not even on the Michigan ballot). This option looks like the best scenario for Obama – no do-over fights and delegates for nothing.

But that third option would mean that this fight rages on until July because the only way a 50-50 split of delegates could come about is if the DNC's credentials committee signs off on it.

It's interesting to consider how the narrative of the race may change if FL and MI were to come back into play. The economy would clearly be the focal point for both campaigns in Michigan and exit polls continue to show that it's the most important issue to Democratic voters. Yet today, both the Clinton and Obama campaigns spent the day pushing the candidates' ability to deal with national security concerns as president. Perhaps using the six week lull to start to lay the groundwork for the general election narrative against John McCain?

First up was Obama with a press conference in Chicago where he was flanked by seven generals and three admirals and not only promoted his own national security credentials, but also criticized Clinton for attacking his experience.

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