Dean Doesn't Take The Bait
by Todd Beeton, Tue May 06, 2008 at 03:02:54 PM EDT
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.