Democrats Resolve the Delegate Controversy
AUDIE CORNISH, host:
From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. Liane Hansen is away. I'm Audie Cornish.
The Democratic Party has tried to resolve its longstanding dispute over delegates from Michigan and Florida. Yesterday the party's rules and bylaws committee agreed to seat all the delegates from the two states, but give them each just half votes at the August national convention in Denver.
Unidentified Man: In the best interest in electing a Democrat in America, that we should support this compromise resolution.
Unidentified Woman #1: Say hello to McCain.
Unidentified Woman #2: That's right.
Unidentified Woman #1: You can't wait without Hillary supporters.
Mr. HAROLD ICKEY (Hillary Clinton Adviser): Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee.
(Soundbite of cheering)
CORNISH: The last voice you heard was from Hillary Clinton adviser Harold Ickey. He's also a member of the rules committee, clearly indicating that the compromise may not have satisfied the Clinton campaign.
NPR political editor Ken Rudin joins us to talk about what happened yesterday and what remains unresolved. Now, Ken, you were in the meeting. Tell us what happened.
KEN RUDIN: Well, to say that the Clinton people are not happy with it is an understatement. You know, we got to the convention, we got to the meeting yesterday. There were protestors outside and it ended with protestors but it also ended with protesting and tears and anger, and there's a lot of disappointment.
Basically what happened, as you know, as everybody seems to know by now, Michigan and Florida were penalized with delegates because they decided to move their primaries up into January, which is in violation of the DNC rules. Hillary Clinton won both primaries handily, but, again, everybody says at the time the primaries would not amount to much.
Now, Hillary Clinton's campaign was insisting that these delegates count, that they do count these results. So, the rules committee decided, well, we will seat these delegates after all, but they will only get a half a vote. If Hillary Clinton was going to win the nomination from Barack Obama, she needed a better ruling from the rules committee and she didn't get it.
CORNISH: So, what is the recourse for Hillary Clinton's campaign?
RUDIN: Well, as you heard Harold Ickey say they could protest to the credentials committee, which is 168 members of the DNC, and they won't meet until July or August at the earliest. And whatever decision they make would have to be decided by the full convention at the floor of the Denver convention in late August.
The last thing the Democratic Party wants is for this to be dragged out into the etch of the convention because they would love to focus their attention on John McCain right now. But the Hillary Clinton campaign is still arguing that they would be a stronger candidate against McCain in November, that they won the most votes if you count Michigan and Florida.
So, we have to see what happens next because there are some primaries coming up - Puerto Rico today, Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday and then the Clinton campaign will reassess what they have to do.
CORNISH: And I don't want to let you go without getting to this news. Last night Barack Obama announced that he was resigning from the Trinity United Church of Christ. That's the Chicago church he joined 20 years ago. This comes after followed-over comments made by his former pastor and more recently a visiting priest.
Now, in the minute we have left, what do you think that is going to mean for this controversy?
RUDIN: Well, Barack Obama knows that whatever happens at Trinity Church he will be asked about it and it will reflect on his campaign. You think that with his apparent, about to wrap up the Democratic nomination this would be a great week for him. But, of course, we saw what happened with the controversy over Jeremiah Wright, which has really hurt his campaign. And now you have these comments by a Roman Catholic adviser, an unpaid adviser, to the Obama campaign.
Michael Pfleger who criticized Hillary's campaign last week, mocked her crying, talked about white entitlement. And Barack Obama realized that even though he's been in the church since 1992, this was too much for him. It was affecting, adversely affecting his campaign and it was time to quit. But, again, he got so much attention, so much negative reaction from this that it was time to quit.
CORNISH: Well, thanks, Ken.
RUDIN: Thanks, Audie.
CORNISH: Ken Rudin is NPR's political editor. You can read more about this in his Political Junkie column at NPR.org/PoliticalJunkie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.