On a day when it appears that the Michigan controversy may be resolved in a way that's fair to all parties -- but not in a way that gives Hillary Clinton all that state's delegates and Barack Obama none, as her campaign insists -- Clinton has just upped the ante by issuing what seems a hastily penned open letter to Obama, pretending that he is the sole obstacle to a fair resolution of the Michigan and Florida brouhaha and that she has always supported revotes (neither of which is accurate). There's lots to discuss, but the letter itself is more than adequate fodder:
May 8, 2008
Senator Barack Obama
Obama for America
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, IL 60680
Dear Senator Obama,
This has been an historic and exciting campaign. Millions of new voters have been brought into the process and their enthusiasm for the Democratic Party and the principles for which you and I have fought and continue to fight is unprecedented.
One of the foremost principles of our party is that citizens be allowed to vote and that those votes be counted. That principle is not currently being applied to the nearly 2.5 million people who voted in primaries in Florida and Michigan. Whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee will be hamstrung in the general election if a fair and quick resolution is not reached that ensures that the voices of these voters are heard. Our commitment now to this goal could be the difference between winning and losing in November.
I have consistently said that the votes cast in Florida and Michigan in January should be counted. We cannot ignore the fact that the people in those states took the time to be a part of this process and to make their preferences known. When efforts were untaken [sic] by leaders in those states to hold revotes to ensure that they had a voice in selecting our nominee, I supported those efforts. In Michigan, I supported a legislative effort to hold a revote that the Democratic National Committee said was in complete compliance with the party's rules. You did not support those efforts and your supporters in Michigan publically [sic] opposed them. In Florida a number of revote options were proposed. I am not aware of any that you supported. In 2000, the Republicans won an election by successfully opposing a fair counting of votes in Florida. As Democrats, we must reject any proposals that would do the same.
Your commitment to the voters of these states must be clearly stated and your support for a fair and quick resolution must be clearly demonstrated.
I am asking you to join me in working with representatives from Florida and Michigan and the Democratic National Committee to arrive at a solution that honors the votes of the millions of people who went to the polls in Florida and Michigan. It is not enough to simply seat their representatives at the convention in Denver. The people of these great states, like the people who have voted and are to vote in other states, must have a voice in selecting our party's nominee.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
The typo-ridden dashed-off letter seems at least in part a response to Obama's touring Capitol Hill today in the wake of what may turn out to be Tuesday's decisive Democratic primary contests in North Carolina and Indiana. The enthusiastic response he garnered from House Democrats, who CNN reported "surrounded" the senator when he arrived, suggested that many of the Congressional superdelegates believe a turning point has arrived and that at last a sure party nominee for president was moving among them.
Obama claimed he was not on The Hill seeking undecided superdelegate votes, but admitted that he'd "love to have their support" and was happy to respond to any questions they might have for him.
Clinton's Open Letter was released to reporters as the cameras were clicking on Capitol Hill.
In recent weeks, the Clinton camp has made the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations to the national convention a cornerstone of the campaign, its only real path to the nomination. The Hillary For President website posted a petition this week that supporters could sign to help advance the cause and the campaign has included the Florida delegate numbers in its nomination tallies. Clinton has included them in her stump speeches as well.
Of course not all Clinton supporters agree with the campaign's logic. Mame Reiley, a pro-Clinton superdelegate and a member of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, for example, says she is inclined to seat the Florida delegation as is, due to the full slate of candidates there, but, she says, "it's a whole different ballgame with Michigan," where Hillary's main rivals followed the rules and withdrew their names from the ballot. "My decision there," Reiley said, "might make Hillary not happy with me."
Read M.S. Bellows follow-up piece, Clinton's Hail Mary, at OffTheBus.
Additional reporting contributed by OffTheBus blogger Chip Collis.