Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

Keith Olbermann began his primary coverage broadcast on MSNBC by citing Hillary Clinton's claim today that the magic number of delegates that must be reached to win the nomination is 2,209, counting Michigan and Florida, not 2,025 as is currently cited as the official magic number. Keith then asked Howard Dean about it and got what had to be, for him, a less than satisfactory answer.

Keith Olbermann: Isn't it still 2,025 according to all the rules?

Howard Dean: There's going to be a Rules Committee Meeting on the 31st of May where we're going to take up the issue of Florida and Michigan and how to deal with them. [...]

So, there's going to be some kind of a compromise is what I would predict. I can't tell you what's in it but right now the number is 2,025. On May 31st, we'll find out what the Rules Committee does and how they plan to work out seating a delegation from Michigan and Florida.

The reason this is significant is that what Dean says here essentially puts the official number of delegates needed to win in limbo until that meeting on May 31. In other words, if superdelegates were to put Obama over the 2,025 threshold before then, Clinton would apparently have the rules of the DNC behind her in claiming the right to fight on. While Dean's sounding as though he's taking Clinton's side against what Obama supporters think is an incontrovertible reality no doubt makes many Obama supporters' heads explode, it further demonstrates the peril of banking on a pledged delegate lead that has such a huge asterisk next to it as Obama's currently does.

By the way, expect Obama supporters to claim in the next couple weeks that Obama should be the nominee as a result of having won a majority of the pledged delegates at stake. I've read estimates that he would be likely to cross that threshold on May 20th. Yes, both sides do enjoy moving those goal posts.

Update [2008-5-6 18:57:41 by Todd Beeton]:By the way, it should not be forgotten that part of the downside to Obama's resisting re-votes in Florida and Michigan is that once the Rules Committee comes up with a compromise that uses as its basis the January primaries, thus essentially ratifying those results to some degree, Hillary Clinton is then on more solid footing in counting Michigan and Florida in the popular vote, which, whether people like it or not, should be a factor in a world in which human superdelegates tasked with using their best judgment are the ultimate deciders. Now, Dean did imply that any compromise worked out in the Rules Committee would have to be OK'd by both campaigns, so it's hard to see Obama signing on to something that would do ratify the January contests in any way shape or form. But, its being a compromise and all, they're going to have to budge on something. Clearly Obama would like to have this wrapped up before the Rules Committee even meets but by the sound of what Howard Dean said today that's not likely to happen unless Clinton loses both contests tonight.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean (all tags)

Comments

22 Comments

Re: Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

that's the expected answer Todd. Dean can't be shouting out crap he doesn't know.

by alex100 2008-05-06 02:48PM | 0 recs
MI & FL won't be resolved in

such a way to assist Clinton in any substantive way. You know it. I know it. Why pretend that it will?

by RLMcCauley 2008-05-06 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: MI & FL won't be resolved in

Because it's all they have.  

When you know you can't win unless things change, you become CONVINCED that things will change.  

by Lawyerish 2008-05-06 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: MI & FL won't be resolved in

Well I guess I'd expect deeper analysis from the frontpagers than I'd get on CNN.

by RLMcCauley 2008-05-06 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: MI & FL won't be resolved in

What Obama supporters? Like Harold Ickes?

by RLMcCauley 2008-05-06 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: MI & FL won't be resolved in

Back this up.

by anoregonreader 2008-05-06 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

Olbermann didn't look surprised at all by that answer.

by wengler 2008-05-06 02:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

Of course that is what he has to say to prevent the shrieking Clinton harpies from claiming he's in the bag for Obama.

by PaulDem 2008-05-06 02:53PM | 0 recs
"Shrieking harpies"?

Loaded language, that.

by Shem 2008-05-06 02:55PM | 0 recs
Re: "Shrieking harpies"?

I would say the big Clinton donors who threatened to withhold funding from the DCCC and the DNC if Dean and Pelosi dared to suggest that the Clinton version of reality (Florida and Michigan should be seated as is, superdelegates should disregard the pledged delegate result) rightly earned themselves my hyperbolic nickname.

by PaulDem 2008-05-06 03:01PM | 0 recs
Re: "Shrieking harpies"?

Curious... Which big Clinton donors?

Link?

by devoted1 2008-05-06 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: "Shrieking harpies"?

It was in all the papers.

by LandStander 2008-05-06 03:24PM | 0 recs
Asterisk?

Obama leads in election-based pledged delegates with or without FL/MI (even with "uncommitted" cutting against him).  In Michigan, Obama would likely wipe the floor with Clinton in a real election regardless.  Given the "compromise" rhetoric now floating about, I highly doubt it'll lead to any real change in delegate totals.

by Shem 2008-05-06 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

Yawn...

by AbeFroman 2008-05-06 02:56PM | 0 recs
Come on

This has got to stop.  

Clinton will "fight on" no matter what.  What Dean does or does not say makes no difference.  She has already said she's staying in until Denver.

And calling out Obama supporters in the post for what you think they will do is not necessary or helpful.  Yes, they will probably advocate for their candidate.  That is why they're supporters.

by mffarrow 2008-05-06 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Come on

It's amusing that a front diary with the title, "doesn't take the bait," goes on to do it's own baiting.

Baiting is about the only source of pleasure left for some people, apparently.

by Kobi 2008-05-06 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Come on

It's pretty sad to see so many once-great progressive sites fall apart because of this primary.

What passes for "analysis" these days is mostly just venom directed at one campaign or the other and poll cherry-picking.

by mffarrow 2008-05-06 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

That's because he's a class act all the way. He's a DNC chair who is truly impartial.

by Kobi 2008-05-06 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

I think that the caution in Dean's words just might be interpreted to forbode an impending flood of Super Delegates to Obama in the coming week.  He doesn't want the party to look like it's forcing her out of the race.

If she doesn't score massive victories in both IN and NC tonight, she's in serious trouble, IMO.

by fogiv 2008-05-06 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

I think people are going to be surprised by the ultimate super delegate response in this end game phase in more than one way.  This is because the sups are, most fundamentally, driven by self preservation.  Most of them make a living from politics, and when this is the case, the most basic rule of survival is; back the winner.  Once it becomes clear which way the tide is going, expect to see a sea change of super delegate support toward the perceived winner.  This effect will probably be most dramatic with the DNC non elected group.  This is going to turn off a lot of the new, younger adherents to political contests, but it is the reality.

by TJ1 2008-05-06 03:17PM | 0 recs
Weak Arguments v. No Arguments

once the Rules Committee comes up with a compromise that uses as its basis the January primaries, thus essentially ratifying those results to some degree, Hillary Clinton is then on more solid footing in counting Michigan and Florida in the popular vote, which, whether people like it or not, should be a factor...

Look, Todd, there's at least an argument for counting the FL popular vote in any scorecard of how the running popular vote totals are adding up.  We can disagree on how good an argument it is (my header says what I think), but no question that an argument can be made.

When it comes to Michigan, there just ain't none.  At least if you're expecting the supers to consider the popular vote as evidence of the relative support that Clinton and Obama have.  And what other sense would they make of it?  Why else would they look at the popular vote to begin with, rather than just consider the pledged delegate totals?

Exactly.  Now take your meaningless Michigan popular vote and shove it.  Thanks.

by RT 2008-05-06 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Dean Doesn't Take The Bait

"Hillary Clinton is then on more solid footing in counting Michigan and Florida in the popular vote, which, whether people like it or not, should be a factor in a world in which human superdelegates tasked with using their best judgment are the ultimate deciders."

That only matters if we had a legalistic system to determine what counts.  The fact is that no one who doesn't already buy into Clinton's arguments is accepting the concept that Michigan was a valid election.  You can say that superdelegates can or should count this, but where is the evidence that they are?

by thezzyzx 2008-05-06 04:25PM | 0 recs

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