Obama, Clinton spar over Michigan's meaning

Obama campaign says the vote will "have no bearing" on the nomination. Clinton campaign says all voices should be heard.

By Tim Grieve
January 16, 2008 5:42AM (UTC)
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When Michigan and Florida broke the Democratic National Committee's rules on primary scheduling, the DNC responded by stripping both states of their delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. But is that the end of the story?

Maybe not.

Barack Obama and John Edwards took their names off the ballot in Michigan. Hillary Clinton kept hers on. But like Edwards and Obama, she pledged that she wouldn't campaign in either Michigan or Florida.


In a memo distributed today, the Obama campaign suggested that the Clinton campaign might be planning to break that pledge. "Sen. Clinton has scheduled a fundraiser in Florida on Jan. 27th, and there are signs -- despite Sen. Clinton's public pledge to the contrary -- that she may be planning to campaign in the state -- inquiring about large venues and increased organizing activity -- ahead of the Florida primary." In addition to that accusation, Obama spokesman Bill Burton offered a reminder that the primaries in Michigan and Florida will "have no bearing on the Democratic nomination contest" because the states won't have any delegates at the national convention.

Not so fast, says the Clinton campaign. In a memo just circulated in response, the Clinton campaign denies the charge that it's planning to campaign in Florida; says the Obama campaign is pushing the Michigan-doesn't-matter line only because its efforts to get Democrats to vote "uncommitted" isn't working; and seems to be hinting that it may fight to have delegates from Michigan and Florida seated at the convention after all.

"While Sen. Clinton will honor her commitment not to campaign in Florida in violation of the pledge, she also intends to honor her pledge to hear the voices of all Americans," the campaign says. "The people of Michigan and Florida have just as much of a right to have their voices heard as anyone else. It is disappointing to hear a major Democratic presidential candidate tell the voters of any state that their voices aren't important ... Sen. Clinton intends to be president for all fifty states. And while she will honor the pledge she signed and not campaign in either state, she intends to continue to give every American a voice during this election and when she gets to the White House."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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