- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton today said the Michigan and Florida Democratic primaries were “fair” and that the delegates from those votes must either be seated, or else a new primary must be held.

“In my view there are two options: Honor the results or hold new primary elections,” the New York Senator said at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t see any other solutions that are fair and honor the commitment that two and a half million voters made in the Democratic primaries in those two states.”

But Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign said Mrs. Clinton continued to move the goalposts by ruling out caucuses to replace the Michigan and Florida primaries, which were held in defiance of Democratic Party rules. As a result of holding their primaries too early, neither state’s delegates will be seated at the convention.

The candidates promised not to campaign in the two states and Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, even had his name removed from the Michigan ballot, leaving Mrs. Clinton with wins in both states. She wants to have the delegates she won counted, since it would help her close the gap with Mr. Obama, and with fewer delegates left on the table she needs to find other ways of boosting her total.

Clinton campaign Manager Maggie Williams sent a letter to Mr. Obama’s campaign manager this morning saying that it was vital for both campaigns to reach an agreement to seat Florida and Michigan delegates.

The options open to Democrats are to take the fight to the credentials committee at the convention in August; to hold new primaries, which would be expensive; to hold caucuses, which have been particularly kind to Mr. Obama; or to conduct mail-in primaries.

Mr. Obama yesterday said he was expecting the Democratic National Committee to work the issue out.

“What we believe is that there should be some way at arriving at a fair settlement that respects the fact that there were rules in place, but also makes sure that the Michigan and Florida voters are seated,” he said. “I’m not going to spend too much time designing what the solution is. I think that whatever the DNC decides, we will abide by.”

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe during a conference call today said the campaign has “deep concerns” about a mail-in election Michigan government officials have proposed. He also said a move by members of Florida’s congressional delegation to oppose a revote appeared to be orchestrated by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

“We played by the rules,” he said. “Now when they believe it serves their political interest they are trying to change the rules.”

Mr. Plouffe said Mr. Obama would not accept a 50-50 split from the delegations since he was not on even on the ballot in Michigan.

Even though Democrats’ nomination isn’t decided, they are getting a little help from their friends in trying to keep Sen. John McCain, Republicans’ presumed nominee, down.

The AFL-CIO said union members will dog Mr. McCain at fundraisers and political events through the rest of this year’s presidential campaign, demanding he change his stance on supporting free trade and overtime rules.

Karen Ackerman, the union umbrella group’s political director, said the Republican primary gave Mr. McCain a free ride on his economic policies.

“All that changes today,” she told reporters, announcing a $53.4 million total campaign that flood union households with mailing, phone calls and personal visits from fellow union members to tell them the areas on which they believe McCain has fallen short.

But Brian Rogers, a McCain campaign spokesman, said the AFL-CIO campaign was less about economic issues and more about partisan politics.

“While they spend millions of dollars on old-style attack politics that the American people are sick and tired of, John McCain is working to move America forward with a positive, optimistic vision for our future,” he said.

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