ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday June 01, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 53

'Last stand' for Hillary

WASHINGTON, Saturday (AFP) - Hillary Clinton today makes a last stand in her ebbing White House bid, as the Democratic Party tries to defuse a unity-sapping row over voided primary votes in Michigan and Florida. The legal wranglings of the Democratic National Committee's rules panel in a Washington hotel will mark the latest impropable twist in Clinton's epic coast-to-coast nominating duel with Barack Obama, now drawing to a close.

The former first lady won outlaw elections in both Florida and Michigan, which gatecrashed the party's set-in-stone nominating calendar -- but the states were punished and had their nominating convention delegates stripped. But now she needs both states to count to cut her delegate gap with the overwhelming front-runner Obama, and to claim she won the popular vote nationwide.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) dances with reggaeton duo Rakim (L) and Ken Y during a campaign rally at Plaza Darsenas in San Juan on Friday. Reuters

The rules committee must decide whether Clinton is right to argue that ignoring the states and cutting their delegates out of August's convention in Denver would disenfranchise 2.3 million people in vital battleground states. Even in the unlikely event that Clinton gets both delegations seated, she would likely still lag more than 100 delegates behind Obama, after the last primaries, Puerto Rico on Sunday, and Montana and South Dakota Tuesday.

Going into Saturday's meeting, the Clinton campaign has laid out an uncompromising position.“The first (point) is that the January results should count,” said Tina Flournoy, a senior Clinton advisor on Friday.“The second point is that the preferences expressed by those votes in that primary should be used to allocate the delegates to the candidates.

“The third thing we want, and we believe it is important, that the full delegations from both states be seated.”Obama has offered a compromise, and can afford to be generous as he leads every metric of the Democratic race, and would not be affected by suffering a net delegate loss to Clinton over the Michigan and Florida imbroglio.

But Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe said on Thursday that his camp was not willing to give all of the delegates to Clinton -- not least because his candidate was not even on the ballot in Michigan.

Clinton's camp has not yet said whether they could prolong the marathon Democratic race, and even take their fight all the way to Denver if they do not get what they want this weekend. Clinton took 50 percent of the vote in Florida, where all the Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign. In Michigan, where Obama took his name off the ballot, she took 55 percent to 40 percent for “uncommitted.”

On the eve of the meeting, Obama was only 43 delegates short of the 2,026 total delegates needed to claim the nomination, though the number could change, depending on how the Democratic rules committee resolves Michigan and Florida. Clinton was 244 delegates short, but at the end of the nominating calendar on Tuesday, either candidate will likely need support from the 200 or so 'super-delegates' or top party officials who can vote how they like at the convention to get over the finish line.

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