While I don't think this primary will rip asunder the Democratic Party, and battles like the one I'm about to discuss are pretty much inside baseball, that doesn't make me dismiss this disturbing pattern on the part of the Clinton campaign to contest this race on their own terms rather than the terms set forth by party rules.
They discouraged student votes in Iowa. Their allies tried to shut down at-large caucuses in Nevada. There was at the very least some shadiness that went on in other Nevada caucuses (there was shadiness from Obama surrogates too, they just weren't as good at it). They stayed on the ballot in Michigan to try and gain an advantage. And now there's this thumb in the eye of DNC rules.
I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee.
I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.
I hope my fellow potential nominees will join me in this.
I will of course be following the no-campaigning pledge that I signed, and expect others will as well.
Look, the party set the rules a while back. There would be four early states, followed by whoever else after February 5. When Michigan and Florida broke the rules and moved up, their delegates were stripped. Period. The Clinton campaign had every opportunity to contest that. They didn't. They waited until a few days before the Florida primary to make this statement, and garner the goodwill of the Democratic establishment in Florida, including Bill Nelson, who's probably going to endorse her.
A well-connected Democratic strategist who asked not to be named did not think that Nelson's endorsement was part of a quid-pro-quo for Clinton's statement. But Nelson was quoted as recently as two weeks ago saying that his endorsement would depend on "how [the candidates] treat Florida."
An official with Nelson's office declined to confirm or deny the endorsement. They did, however, send a press release issued by the office in which the Senator criticized the stripping of his state's delegates. Nelson, the release read, is "happy to see that Clinton agrees with the principle at issue in his lawsuit - that every person has a right to vote, and have the vote count as intended."
I agree with Josh Marshall.
The Clinton camp is just pushing to seat these delegates now because the contingencies of the moment mean that the decision would favor Hillary. She was the only one whose name was on the ballot in Michigan, thus insuring her win. She has a wide lead in every Florida poll taken this month.
Even Michigan was a matter of her basically pulling a fast one on the other candidates by not taking her name off the ballot. Each of the major candidates signed a pledge not to "campaign or participate" in any primary or caucus prior to Feb. 5th except for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The other major candidates adopted what seems like the only reasonable interpretation of the pledge (see text here) and pulled their names from the ballot.
But then Hillary didn't, thus in essence guaranteeing her win in Michigan [...]
Perhaps there's some detail of this question that I'm not aware of. And if there is I'll revise my opinion accordingly. But based on what I know now this is pretty clear-cut.
Hillary can muscle for every advantage she wants. Good for her. She's a fighter. But everyone else should see this for what it is and say No.
The candidates didn't take their name off the ballot in Florida because state law would require them to drop out of the race by doing so. Big Tent Democrat trying to use this as a "gotcha" is frankly absurd. There's a very consistent pattern of Clinton pushing every advantage, regardless of the pre-arranged rules, in order to win what appears to be a protracted delegate fight. She is breaking the rules to change the rules. I don't think it'll hurt her with the Democratic rank-and-file, either, so in a sense it's ingenious. But I don't need to reward it.