ABC News’ Sunlen Miller, David Wright & Andy Fies Report: Barack Obama says it’s an "abstract measure" to count votes in Michigan and Florida, whose contests were essentially nulled by the Democratic National Committee when the states violated party rules and moved their primaries ahead of others in the election calendar.
"There have been a number of different formulations that the Clinton campaign has been trying to arrive at to suggest that somehow they’re not behind," Obama told reporters following a town hall meeting in New Albany, Indiana, "If you want to count them for some abstract measure, you’re free to do so. But, you know, the way that the popular vote is translated is into delegates, that’s how these primaries and these caucuses work."
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The debate is more than an academic one for the candidates and Democratic superdelegates who may decide the tightly contested nomination.
If votes in Florida and Michigan count toward the national popular vote total, Clinton currently leads Obama by over 100,000 votes; if those states do not count, Obama leads Clinton by several hundred thousand.
Adding another point of contention: Obama’s name did not appear on the Michigan ballot but both candidates did appear on ballots in the Florida contest.
Obama said on Wednesday, the day after a double digit defeat in the Pennsylvania primary, said he would leave it to reporters to "sort thought the various permutations of what should count and what shouldn’t that the Clinton camp is presenting."
Not surprisingly, Sen. Clinton is advocating for inclusion of the Florida and Michigan counts, a position she made clear in an interview on Wednesday’s "Good Morning America".
"The votes in Michigan and Florida were official," Clinton told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, "I mean, they were certified by the secretary of state. It’s just that the Democratic Party can’t figure out what to do with all those votes, and try to seat delegates."
"I actually have more votes from people who actually voted for me," Clinton added. "Last night’s win should give a lot of fresh information to our superdelegates, because after all, the road to Pennsylvania Avenue does lead through Pennsylvania."
At his earlier event in Indiana, Obama responded to a question on superdelegates saying, "I do think that these elections that we’ve been doing should be counted for something, and if we’ve won the most delegates from the voters, seems to me that it might be a good idea to make me the nominee."
Obama also took a moment to analyze his Pennslyvania loss for the press.
"If you look at the numbers, in fact, the problem has less to do with white working class voters, in fact the problem is, that to the extent there is a problem, is that older voters are very loyal to Senator Clinton. And I think part of that is they’ve got a track record of voting for not just Senator Clinton but also her husband," Obama said.
The junior Senator from Illinois also complained about his rival’s approach to their nomination fight.
"Nobody has complained more about the press, about questions at debates, about being mistreated than Senator Clinton has or President Clinton," the candidate said, quickly adding, "I’ve always believed that if you’re tough you don’t have to talk about it."
Tuesday’s loss marks the third time in recent months Obama has had an opportunity to put sizeable distance between he and his rival, with opportunities to all but end the nomination contest in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania.
When asked by reporters why he can’t seem to close the deal with voters, Obama replied, "The way we’re gonna close the deal is by winning, and right now we’re winning . . . I think it’s apparent that we’re in the strongest position to win in November."