Clinton Demands Florida, Michigan Votes Count

May 21, 2008 4:50pm

ABC’s Eloise Harper reports: In her most emphatic argument yet for counting the votes in Michigan and Florida, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, traveled Wednesday to Palm Beach County, Florida –- ground zero for hanging chads and the vote-count controversy of the 2000 election.

Clinton argued for including Michigan and Florida’s delegates in the selection of a party nominee, as well as counting the popular vote in those states. She argued that the popular vote tally should determine the election outcome, instead of the delegate count.

Watch the VIDEO HERE.

“We believe that the outcome of our elections should be determined by the will of the people. Nothing more. Nothing less. And we believe the popular vote is the truest expression of your will. We believe it today just as we believed it back in 2000 when right here in Florida you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren’t counted and a candidate with fewer votes is determined the winner.”A

And today, Senator Barack Obama’s campaign showed a glimmer of compromise on the Michigan and Florida delegate controversy. Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod told National Public Radio’s All Things Considered: “We are open to comprise.  We are willing to go more than half way.  We’re willing to work to make sure that we can achieve a compromise.  And I guess the question is: is Senator Clinton’s campaign willing to do the same?”

The Democratic Party boycotted the Florida and Michigan primaries when those states moved up the dates of their primaries against the wishes of the Party, disrupting its intended primary calendar.  Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill, honored that boycott and did not campaign in those states; Obama’s name did not even appear on the Michigan ballot.

But Clinton now says she wants to see those votes cast in Florida and Michigan counted. “I believe the Democratic Party must count these votes. They should count them exactly as they were cast. I am here today because I believe the decision our party faces is not just about the fate of these votes and the outcome of these primaries. It is about whether we will uphold our most fundamental values as Democrats and Americans.”

“Each of us should have an equal voice in determining the destiny of our nation.  A generation of patriots risked and sacrificed lives on the battlefield for that ideal,” Clinton said.

Clinton then called on her opponent to join her in demanding that Florida and Michigan be counted.

“I believe that both Senator Obama and myself have an obligation as potential Democratic nominees — in fact, we all have an obligation as Democrats to carry on this legacy and ensure that in our nominating process every voices is heard and that every single vote is counted.” 

Making the comparison to the Florida recount during the 2000 election, Clinton said “The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear. If any votes aren’t counted the will of the people isn’t realized and our democracy is diminished.”

Clinton also referenced the court decision that ended the 2000 recount quagmire: “Your Supreme Court said it’s not about the technicalities or about the contestants it’s about the will of the people and whenever you we can understand their intent it should govern. Well it’s very clear what the 1.7 million people intended here in Florida.” 

Clinton received more votes in Florida, when it held its primary election. However, since both candidates boycotted the race and did not campaign there, it is unknown how many voters skipped going to the polls that day.

Clinton appealed to the local audience saying, “The fact is the people of Florida voted back in January you did your part you showed up in record numbers and you made informed choices but today some months later you still don’t know if these votes will help determine our party’s nominee. You still don’t know if this great state will be represented at our convention in August. It is time you knew. because the more than 2.3 million people who voted in Florida and Michigan exercised their fundamental American right in good faith.” She continued, “You did not break a single rule and you should not be punished.”

Clinton explained that she does not agree with critics who argue she is changing the  late in the game. “Some say that counting Florida and Michigan would be changing the rules. I say that not counting Michigan and Florida is changing a central governing rule of this country.”

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