Hillary Clinton is not backing down on seating the Florida and Michigan delegates with out a fight, she says. Clinton said today that “she is willing to take her fight to seat Florida and Michigan delegates to the convention if the two states want to go that far.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, Clinton was asked whether she would support the states if they continue the fight.
The presidential candidate said Wednesday, “Yes I will. I will, because I feel very strongly about this.”
Clinton is calling for delegates from both states to be seated at the convention based on the primaries. Both states were stripped of their delegates because they voted early, violating national party rules. Clinton won both states; Barack Obama’s name wasn’t on the Michigan ballot.
As noted in a post below by JoAnne, the DNC’s rules committee will hear an appeal on May 31. Ben Smith notes on Politico today that while campaigning in Florida today, Clinton also likened the fight to seat the delegates to “epic American struggles, including those to free the slaves and win the right to vote for blacks and women.”
The current stalemate over the two states’ primary votes threatens to replicate the disputed 2000 presidential election in Florida, she warned an elderly crowd in Palm Beach County – one of the jurisdictions where Democrats allege voters were disenfranchised in 2000.
The pointed speech marked the kick-off of a last-gasp effort by Clinton to prolong her Democratic presidential campaign by making the states count, which would cut into rival Barack Obama’s leads in popular votes and pledged delegates.
“In Florida, you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren’t counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner,” she said. “The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear: if any votes aren’t count, the will of the people isn’t realized and our democracy is diminished.”
Clinton, at times sounding like a modern history professor, praised the abolitionists, suffragettes and civil rights pioneers and talked about her own efforts to fight legislative redistricting and voter identification initiatives that she said dilute minority voting power.
“This work to extend the franchise to all of our citizens is a core mission of the modern Democratic party,” she said. “From signing the Voting Rights Act and fighting racial discrimination at the ballot box to lowering the voting age so those old enough to fight and die in war would have the right to choose their commander in chief, to fighting for multi-lingual ballots so you can make your voice heard no matter what language you speak.”
“There’s a reason why so many have fought so hard and sacrificed so much,” Clinton said.
“It’s because they knew that to be a citizen of this country is to have the right and responsibility to help shape its future. Not just to have your voice heard but to have it count. People have fought hard because they knew their vote was at stake and so was their children’s futures.”
Those people, she said “refused to accept their assigned place as second-class citizens. Men and women who saw America not as it was, but as it could and should be, and committed themselves to extending the frontiers of our democracy. The abolitionists and all who fought to end slavery and ensure freedom came with the full right of citizenship. The tenacious women and a few brave men who gathered at the Seneca Falls convention back in 1848 to demand the right to vote.”
“Because of those who have come before, Sen. Obama and I have and so many of you have this precious right today. Because of all that has been done, we are in this historic presidential election. And I believe that both Sen. Obama and myself have an obligation as potential Democratic nominees – in fact we all have an obligation as Democrats – to carry on this legacy and ensure that in our nominating process, every voice is heard and every single vote is counted.”
She also warned of grave political costs in the November general election against presumptive Republican nominee John McCain if the Democratic National Committee does not seat the Florida and Michigan delegations.
“If we fail to do so, I worry that we will pay not only a moral cost, but a political cost as well,” she said. “We know the road to a Democratic White House runs right through Florida and Michigan. If we care about winning those states in November, we need to count your votes now. If Democrats send a message that we don’t fully value your votes, we know Sen. McCain and the Republicans will be more than happy to have them. The Republicans will make a simple and compelling argument: why should Florida and Michigan voters trust the Democratic Party to look out for you when they won’t even listen to you.”
Andrew Sullivan is actually the “shameless” one for not getting the importance of seating these delegates. Over on Real Clear Politics, Tom Bevan sees the writing on the wall: “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble.”
PaganPower at No Quarter responds to the news of Clinton’s plan to take the fight to the convention: “Goddess I Love a Fighter.” Me too…
I’ll support the eventual nominee, and have frequently urged everyone here to do the same, but I’m with Hillary all the way to the convention floor, if that is the path she chooses. And God(dess) willing we will all come together after the convention and trounce McCain come November. That’s the prize… Let’s all keep our eyes on it.
A full transcript of Clinton’s remarks in Florida today is available here.