Sunday, March 9th “Fox News” and “Meet the Press” Debate   Florida, Michigan Do-Over

     The Sunday morning news programs were focused on the Obama/Clinton face-off…again. It was only a matter of time before Hillary Clinton would begin focusing on trying to seat Florida and Michigan delegates, who were previously denied delegates to punish them for moving their primaries up. Britt Hume, on Fox News Sunday, interviewed 2 SuperDelegates, both named Debbie.

    One was Debbie Dingell (no, I’m not making that name up), a SuperDelegate from Michigan and a Democratic National Committee member. The other was Debbie Wassermann Schulz, a Super-Delegate from Florida. The conversation focused on “do-overs” and “firehouse primaries” and any number of means by which the Democratic Party can seat the delegates from Florida and Michigan who were supposed to be being punished for their actions by not being seated.

    Expense of a special election is, of course, at issue. The cost of a special election is estimated to run about $30 million dollars and all kinds of people are stepping up to the plate to make suggestions as to how a special election might now be financed, from James Carville to Governor Ed Rendell (D, PA) to Dr. Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

     Without Michigan’s and Florida’s votes factored in, Barack Obama has a popular vote total of 13,318,906 to Hillary Clinton’s 12,690,404, but if Florida and Michigan are factored back in, the count becomes 13,895,120 for Obama to 13,889,699 for Hillary, according to Fox News Sunday’s poll. Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard commented, “She’s (Clinton’s) gonna’ have to have a majority of the popular vote, because she’s not gonna’ have a majority of the delegate vote, even if she wins in these electable contests between now and the convention…They’re gonna’ do something in Michigan and Florida, and it’s up to Hillary Clinton to get ahead in the popular vote, because, otherwise, she’s not gonna’ be the nominee.” The other contributors, Mara Liasson of NPR, Juan Williams, also of NPR, and Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard agreed that, “These delegates re going to be seated. The only question is, ‘How are they gonna’ be counted?'”

    All the expert commentators noted Obama’s difficult position in the matter. Obviously, Hillary is desperately trying to lobby for changing the rules, since she needs an “overtime” to win, but where is the advantage for Obama? There is none, but he runs the risk of being seen as trying to disenfranchise voters in Florida and Michigan if he isn’t supportive of these recent efforts asking for a “do-over.”

     Juan Williams put it this way, “I don’t see how he (Obama) can avoid, in essence, giving in to what Hillary Clinton wants.”

     Fred Barnes, on the other hand, said, “Barack Obama obeyed the rules that the Democratic Party set down.  He didn’t participate in these primaries.  You cannot have an outcome that is fair to Barack Obama.  It’s gonna’ be unfair to him, because, without these two states, he’s ahead, he wins the nomination.”

     Britt Humes asked, “How likely is it that she can still come from behind to beat him (Obama)?” Fred Barnes responded, “Well, I’d say that she’s the underdog and, in these 11 states coming up, she is going to have to do well.”  The graphic displayed showed Obama with 1,578 delegates versus Hillary Clinton’s 1,468 delegates.

    The talk after that turned to the Super Delegates and how they would behave in the event that Hillary Clinton limps into Denver behind in both popular and delegate count. Said Kristol, “You cannot be behind in both Super Delegates and popular vote and win.” This truth seems to be self-evident. Juan Williams commented on the electability issue, with Obama having won 25 states and the District of Columbia while Clinton has won in only 14. There are 9 remaining states.

     Later on Sunday morning, on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert on NBC, commentators Lester Holt and Jenna Wolf discussed the way things have been going, with Obama picking up 45 Super Delegates since Super Tuesday, while Hillary Clinton has lost 6 of them.  Current standing as the candidates head into Pennsylvania on April 22nd and move past Mississippi’s vote on March 12 show 1374 delegates for Obama, with Clinton at 1232, a 142 lead for Barack Obama.  In terms of the popular vote, Obama commands 49% of it, while Hillary Clinton has 47% of the popular vote. There are still 599 delegates to be chosen.

   One of the most interesting exchanges of the morning occurred with Tim Russert moderating a lively discussion between  Senator Tom Daschle (D, SD) and Governor Ed Rendell (D, PA), about what anointing Hillary Clinton as the nominee might do to the young voters and the ethnic voters who have supported Barack Obama in his quest. If Hillary Clinton is announced as the nominee, despite Obama’s having beaten her, fair and square, in almost every way imaginable, what kind of message will that send to America, the youth of America, and the rest of the world.

   Russert put the question this way: “Should the candidate who has won the most electoral votes be the nominee?”

     Daschle answered, “Absolutely. I don’t see how we could possibly do anything else but say that we respect the wishes of the people who have voted. And what would it say to the world and to the country if we overturned the will of those people who have voted. It would be a travesty for the party and for the country.”

     Daschle referenced a poll that was just taken that showed Barack Obama winning, nationwide.  Said Daschle, “It doesn’t matter who’s at the top of the ticket. The Democratic nominee is gonna’ be in a very commanding position in New York and California and I think we can even put Texas into play this year.”

     Governor Ed Rendell (D, PA), a Hillary Clinton supporter, tried to suggest that Hillary Clinton deserves to be the nominee because she could win in the big states that count, reasoning that was offensive to not only Daschle, but also the residents of all the other states that aren’t Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida or Michigan.  Rendell, saying, “She’s clearly the strongest candidate in the states we have to take, also offended by suggesting that caucuses were not democratic, because shift workers and older residents couldn’t vote by absentee ballot.

     Russert seemed incredulous as he asked Rendell, “So, the Iowa caucuses and the Nevada caucuses were undemocratic?” Rendell answered, “Yes,” which prompted Tom Daschle, an Obama supporter, to say, “Well, Tim, first of all, I think it will come as a real shock to Iowa and Nevada votes that they don’t have a Democratic process.  I thin it’s very democratic.  I don’t concede that point at all.”

     As an Iowan, born and bred, I was happy to hear South Dakota’s Senator stick up for us.  The conversation went on about “do overs” and whether they should be primaries or caucuses or even mail-in ballots.

    Daschle said, “There are, as we have to address, a lot of issues with primaries as well, but the bottom line is that we all agreed to play by the rules and one campaign, now, has broken those rules and has decided not to abide by them, and our campaign has decided to abide by those rules.  We recognize that these are 2 very important states and we are committed to working something out.  We’ll be competitive, whatever it is.  If there’s a fair approach that can be worked out, we’re for it, we’ll work for it, we’ll do it.  But it has to be fair and it has to be worked out in concert with the parties and we have to abide, as much as possible, with the rules that everybody worked out six months ago.”

    Stay tuned for further developments in this very messy situation.