Clinton Camp Erupts as Fla., Mich. Delegates Get Half-Votes

After months of controversy, Democratic Party officials have decided to seat the full Michigan and Florida delegations at the party's convention in August -- but with each delegate getting only a half-vote as punishment for those states defying party rules and holding their primaries early.

The decision netted Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., 29 pledged delegates.

But Clinton campaign officials suggested the political storm over the Michigan and Florida delegates may not be over, amid a tornado watch outside the Democratic National Committee panel's hearing room at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington.

"Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her right to take this to the Credentials Committee [meeting in July]," Harold Ickes, a senior adviser to the Clinton campaign, told the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee as it approved the Michigan and Florida plan.


Clinton supporters in the crowd chanted "Denver! Denver!" -- a sign that many want a floor fight at the Aug. 25-28 Democratic National Convention in that city.

Obeying a DNC directive, the leading Democratic presidential candidates did not campaign in the Michigan and Florida. Both races were won by Clinton -- though unlike Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and other top Democrats weren't even listed on the Michigan ballot.

That made Michigan a tricker problem than Florida -- where Obama's name remained on the ballot -- and Obama and Clinton supporters clashed openly at the hearing.

The Clinton campaign wanted to allot Clinton 73 delegates and give Obama zero, with the remaining ones going to "uncommitted."

Another proposal called for a 73-55 split based on giving Clinton her share of the Jan. 15 vote and assigning Obama the day's "uncommitted" vote.

Senior Michigan Democrats devised a compromise that allocated the delegates at a ratio of 69 for Clinton, 59 for Obama.

At half strength, that netted Clinton five delegates in Michigan, a result that left Ickes irate.

"Not only will this motion hijack four delegates from Mrs. Clinton, it will take 55 delegates from uncommitted status … and convert them to Barack Obama," Ickes said. "I am stunned that we have the gall, the chutzpah, to substitute our judgment for 600,000 voters" in Michigan.

"There has been a lot of talk about party unity," he added. "'Let's all come together, wrap our arms around one another,'" he added. "I submit to you ladies and gentlemen that taking four delegates is not the way to start down the path to party unity."

In Aberdeen, S.D., Obama was asked what he thought of the threat to keep the fight going through July and perhaps even to the Democratic Convention in August.

"I'm not gonna do anything to dissuade Sen. Clinton to do what she thinks is best," Obama said.

"I think that Sen. Clinton and former President Clinton love this country, they love the Democratic Party," he added. "I think they deeply believe that Democrats need to win in November so I trust that they're gonna do the right thing. ... I think that they will be motivated by an interest in bringing the party together and making sure that we're in a position to win Florida, Michigan and the presidency."

An Obama adviser, Anita Dunn, said the Obama campaign was not particularly worried about Ickes position at the DNC meeting.

"He said 'reserve the right,' not that he was going to do it," Dunn said. "They have to get through the next three days. I've been there before."

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