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Clinton Still Leads in Delegates, Obama wants to Bend the Rules

Hillary Clinton continues to hold the edge in delegates, despite the recent wins by Obama this past weekend, with the Associated Press now reporting the tally stands at 1,136 for Clinton and 1,108 for Obama. This count includes the all-important superdelegates.

Of the 796 lawmakers, governors and party officials who are Democratic superdelegates, Clinton had 243 and Obama had 156. That edge was responsible for Clinton's overall advantage in the pursuit of delegates to secure the party's nomination for president. [...]

Both campaigns are aggressively pursuing superdelegates, trumpeting their endorsements the moment they are secured.

"I told my wife I'm probably going to be pretty popular for a couple months," chuckled Richard Ray, a superdelegate and president of the Georgia chapter of the AFL-CIO. Ray said he will remain undecided because the labor federation has made no endorsement.

"If they endorse, then I will, too," Ray said.

Ray plans to rubber stamp his union's endorsement, and in his case that is was probably the intention when he was selected as a superdelegate, but that's not the case for most superdelegates - who for the most part comprise Senators, other elected officials and past officials, party officers, etc.

The national party has named about 720 of the 796 superdelegates. The remainder will be chosen at state party conventions in the spring and summer. AP reporters have interviewed 95 percent of the named delegates, with the most recent round of interviews taking place last week, after Super Tuesday.

For the first time since the AP began contacting superdelegates last fall, more than half of them -- 399 -- have endorsed a candidate. The remaining 320 or so delegates said they are either undecided or uncommitted, making them the subject of intense lobbying by both campaigns. [...]

Donna Brazile, a top Democratic National Committee member and manager of Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, said party elders have a role to play but said voters should lead the way.

"I don't want to superimpose my personal views; I want to reflect the will of the voters," she said Sunday, noting that as a superdelegate she is torn between Obama and Clinton. "Honestly, I don't want to decide this."

Reflecting the will of voters by rubber stamping the most popular candidate isn't the intent of the rules establishing superdelegates either, or why would you need the "superdelegate" category anyway?

The purpose of a superdelegate is to have them exercise their own judgment above and beyond and irrespective of the popular vote. I can understand her reluctance to cut against the grain, but that's her charge, if she feels it's necessary.

Meanwhile Obama is being quite the hypocrite, but then talking out of the side of his mouth is rapidly becoming one of his specialties...

On the one hand Obama is saying that voters should decide and the superdelegates should follow that lead, while at the same time he's aggressively trying to woo superdelegates to choose him, irregardless of the popular vote.

Obama himself weighed in Friday, telling reporters that voters should determine who superdelegates support, even as his campaign actively courted them.

"My strong belief is that if we end up with the most states and the most pledged delegates, and the most voters in the country, then it would be problematic for political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters," he said. "I think that should be the guiding approach to determining who will be the nominee."

Not surprisingly, Obama is missing the entire point of the superdelegates as well - which is no surprise and quite convenient since he hopes to end up with the most votes, but it certainly shows a gross disregard for the democratic process set forth in the nominating process rules.

The superdelegates aren't there to rubber stamp the popular decision - they are they to override the popular decision if needed. In fact, the superdelegate rules were written after the 1972 Democratic nomination process chose an unelectable candidate -- Senator George McGovern -- who only carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

So it is imperative that the superdelegates do more than just rubber stamp the popular decision. The end result may match the popular vote, but that's not why they are there.

I don't believe Obama has showed the degree of weakness that is needed to override the popular decision -- if it goes in favor of him -- but the convention is four months away, and someday - maybe - Obama might have to actually address the issues rather than just shake his fist at the sky and chant that things need to change.

If, at that point, he proves to be unelectable then it is up to the Superdelegates to shut his candidacy down by selecting Clinton - regardless of the popular vote and regular delegate count.

The "superdelegate" rules have been in place for 25 years now, and to hear superdelegates saying they intend to rubber stamp the decisions of others is downright scary - but not surprising.

This IS the Democratic party, after all - and this year it's our election to lose. To hear Obama advocating that we ignore the nominating rules is not surprising in the least.


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Comments (22)

KG:

Hillary . . . is that you?

I'm pushing for obama! I made hilary clinton toilet paper, lol...it's pretty big seller!

Lee Ward:

Real Democrats make Bush and Cheney toilet paper.

Obama Democrats make Clinton toilet paper.

Tell me again how Obama is making a change for the better?

Andy:

Your article reads like standard slash and burn Republican talking points and yet your the one questioning "Obama Democrats."

Regardless of the original purpose of the superdelegates (I personally don't have a real problem with the system though I do think the number of superdelegates should be reduced), do you think it's a good idea to have a small group of mostly anonymous party elites decide the nomination potentially against the will of the people?

Lee Ward:

It's a slash and burn Democratic environment thanks to Obama. Back in October he decided he would go negative, because up to that point he was failing miserably, behind Clinton by 30 points.

Obama has profited from the slash and burn, and taught his Obamatronic disciples well, obviously. Then they show up and whine about negatives, while they laugh about Clinton toilet paper.

Heh.

As to the question of whether superdelegates should overrule the will of the people - my answer is absolutely - yes. That's why they are there. To exercise independent thought and judgment.

One need only look at the 1972 George McGovern debacle to see why. McGovern carried one state and DC in the general, and never should have been the nominee. Democrat party seniors knew he'd lose - but it was the "will of the people."

Here's another reason:

With Sen. John McCain cruising toward the nomination I'm wondering if my vote in tomorrows Virginia primary (Maryland and D.C. are voting as well - hence the Potomac Primary moniker) might have more worth elsewhere; specifically as a vote for Hillary Clinton. Having no dog in the Obama/Clinton fight I have no problem casting a ballot in the Democratic primary to try and get Hillary, who I consider the more favorable opponent for McCain in November, back on track for the Democratic nomination.

Imagine a scenario where the Dmeocratic race boils down to one state primary deciding who becomes our nominee - Clinton or Obama in... Pennsylvania.

Imagine a scenario where enough Republicans, like Kevin, switch registration and vote for Clinton, as Kevin advocates above.

Shouldn't the superdelegates look at that, and make the situation right by "ignoring the will of the people" and giving the nomination to Obama?

Andy:

That's a pretty pathetic defense of this article--"Obama did it first!" Don't complain about Obama and his people going negative and/or ignoring the issues after posting an article like this.

As far as I see it, a superdelegate has the right to choose whatever candidate they see fit and to come to that conclusion by whatever means they deem appropriate.

About the scenario you mentioned, there is no evidence that such strategic voting by Republicans in the Democratic primary has had any impact on the results thus far. Independents have certainly played a role, but there is also no evidence (beyond the occasional anecdote--like the one you posted) that shows these voters are seeking to benefit the Republicans in the fall by supporting either Clinton or Obama.

Lee Ward:

I don't feel the need to defend myself or this article. I was just pointing out the hypocrisy of the Obama crybabies who whine about their widdle hero being attacked, when he's been in full-attack mode for over four months now.

"As far as I see it, a superdelegate has the right to choose whatever candidate they see fit and to come to that conclusion by whatever means they deem appropriate."

You and I agree, Obama doesn't.

And yes, I didn't think Kevin and his pals have been able to do any damage yet. That's no reason to throw out the rules.

Andy:

I recognize you have no obligation to defend yourself, but I think it's fairly obvious that you are a Clinton partisan and I am glad to point out your own hypocrisy.

I would also point out that in no way is Obama explicitly attempting to bend or change the rules. He is simply making his case for superdelegate support (being that he currently leads in the popular vote, pledged delegates, and states won). Thus, he argues, he should be the candidate they support. No where does he suggest a rule change to force superdelegates to act as a rubber stamp as you so decry.

Lee Ward:

He just suggests that the rules be ignored and that the superdelegates don't go against the popular choice when he says that it is "problematic for political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters,"

It's not "problematic" it's the requirement to do that if they see fit.

So following the rules is "problematic" but he doesn't want to change the rules - just ignore them.

Ignoring the rules changes everything.

Andy:

Personally, I would rather the votes of a few hundred party elites were ignored than potentially the votes of the Democratic primary electorate. Apparently you disagree. Hurray aristocracy!

Again though, his statement is simply part of his argument to convince superdelegates to support his candidacy. You can try to blow his statements out of context and out of proportion, but it doesn't change things.

Also, you keep saying he wants them to break the "rules" about superdelegates, when in fact there are no rules. They can decide however they want and Obama is suggesting they decide on the basis of the pledged delegate count.

Lee Ward:

"Also, you keep saying he wants them to break the "rules" about superdelegates, when in fact there are no rules."

The rules state they thye vote for ho they want, not follow the popular vote as Obama suggests.

Obama's suggestion that the rules aren't right wings hollow after they've been in place for 25 years and no one has complained - and Obama didn't complain until it looked like it would favor his candidacy.

"Aristocracy"... nice touch.

Andy:

No one complained about the rules because superdelegates have never made any impact before and no one really cared what they did. You can talk about the 25 years they've been around but this is the first cycle they appear to be integral--not exactly a hot button issue before. That doesn't discredit the point that the superdelegate existence does put a great deal of power in the hands of a very few and many people, only now aware of this, have a problem with it.

And as you say, they can vote anyway they want, meaning that, as I said, there are effectively no rules. Obama isn't trying to create a rule or ignore the rules, he is simply making his case for support. Why do you have a problem with that? Why should he be able to say, "support me, I've gotten the most delegates"?

Andy:

That last sentence was supposed to read "why shouldn't he be able to..." rather than "should."

Lee Ward:

" That doesn't discredit the point that the superdelegate existence does put a great deal of power in the hands of a very few and many people, only now aware of this, have a problem with it. "

Barack Obama has been aware of it for years. He's being grossly disingenuous by waiting until now to complain - and waiting until now to rile up his base to complain.

"Why shouldn't he be able to say, "support me, I've gotten the most delegates"?

He's not saying that. He's saying that superdelegates shouldn't cut against the will of the people.

And the fact is they should do exactly that whenever they feel it's needed.

Barack usually approaches any problem from the negative - we shouldn't do health care the way that Hillary did, and we shouldn't continue politics as usual, blah, blah, blah. It is one of the most frutrating aspects of covering his campaign - his positives are generalities, and his negatives are specific and downright "attacking".

Evasive. Ethereal. Nebulous... He doesn't tell you what he'd do, he tells you how he'd do it.

mantis:

The rules state they thye vote for ho they want, not follow the popular vote as Obama suggests.

And many of them simply choose to vote along with their constituents. Suggesting that they do so is not changing, breaking, bending, or ignoring the rules. But you know that, you've just taken it upon yourself to constantly and dishonestly demonize the candidate, in your own party, that you don't prefer. Sick, sad, and stupid. You should switch parties. You'd fit right in with the Republicans.

Lee Ward:

If Obama wins the nomination I'll support him, and if Clinton wins the nomination I'll support her, equally as strong. Until then, I'll call them as I see them, and hope everyone else does as well.

The last thing any true Democrat wants (except Obama apparently) is a bunch of goosestepping voters who follow the masses.

mantis:

Ah good, now Obama is a Nazi. Godwin called. He said you're an idiot.

Lee Ward:

Obama isn't a Nazi, he just wants the superdelegates to fall in line with the Obamatrons...

ryan a:

Lee,

He's not saying that. He's saying that superdelegates shouldn't cut against the will of the people.

And the fact is they should do exactly that whenever they feel it's needed.

And when, exactly, does it become necessary for superdelegates to go against the will of the people?

One more question: How do you define a "true Democrat"?

Just wondering.

Matt Walsh:

You're a retard.

Obviously Obama will pursue all paths to get votes. And there's no contradiction there at all. He believes the voters should decide, but also recognizes that he has to work within the system as it is, and therefore must court the superdelegates.

Hillary Clinton on the other hand, is EXPLICITLY going against rules by trying to get the Michigan and Florida delegates to count.

"It's a slash and burn Democratic environment thanks to Obama. Back in October he decided he would go negative, because up to that point he was failing miserably, behind Clinton by 30 points.

Obama has profited from the slash and burn, and taught his Obamatronic disciples well, obviously. Then they show up and whine about negatives, while they laugh about Clinton toilet paper."

Specifics please. When did he go negative?

Youre blaming Hillary's problems on Obama? If she was running a competent campaign, why the shake up? Why is Bill being muzzled? They have made some serious miscalculations and have been politically tone deaf. When is anyone going to hold her accountable for some bad moves?
Why do people blame Obama for Hillary's eroding base? She lost the Black vote all by herself with help from Bill.

Just the way she has been running her campaign people should wonder if she is up to the General election.

Lee Ward:

Specifics please. When did he go negative?"

-- October 28, 2007

"Youre blaming Hillary's problems on Obama?"

No, Playing the victim is an Obama camp trait.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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