Talking Points Memo: Rules provide for the Florida and Michigan delegations to be seated
by owl06, Wed Apr 23, 2008 at 06:20:17 AM EDT
Republished with the express permission of authors Jon Winkleman and Jeffrey H. Campagna
Senator Obama and his surrogates, including MoveOn.org, are waging a public relations battle to pressure the DNC to refuse credentials to the Michigan and Florida delegations for the Democratic National Convention. Their message consists of misrepresentations and lies about the DNC rules concerning these states. Unfortunately most news outlets and commentators are repeating this misinformation without ever checking the Obama campaign's claims for accuracy against the actual DNC rules.
It is critical that every one of us combat this misinformation. There has been much discussion recently about the will of the voters. We can't accurately determine which candidate has the greatest support amongst primary voters if we disregard the preference of 1.5 million voters in Florida while giving outsize weight to the 250,000 who caucused in Iowa, and even more outsize influence to the mere 20,000 people who participated in the Democrats Abroad contest.
Senator Clinton won decisive victories in both Florida and Michigan in January and is entitled to the delegates she won from those states. In the tight race for delegates, Florida and Michigan could decide who will be the Democratic nominee for president.
Regardless of who wins the nomination, it is important that the victory be based in the rules. If the nominee's victory is perceived to be based on false information or rules violations, the Party will be divided going into November. We can't afford such a scenario.
Please correct all misstatements and cite the actual sections of the Rules where applicable. Also direct the person repeating the misinformation to the actual DNC Delegate Selection Rules posted online at,
In addition to forwarding these talking points to fellow Hillary supporters, send them to Obama supporters who you believe support a fair application of the rules. Point out to them that it is for the good of everyone that all understand the rules of the game. If someone remains argumentative and insists that Hillary is cheating, simply ask,
"Have you actually read the rules?"
DNC Delegate Selection Rules: Florida & Michigan
True or False?
1) The DNC Rules state that pledged delegates elected by Florida and Michigan voters must be excluded because those states scheduled primaries before February 5, 2008.
FALSE: The DNC Delegate Selection Rules explicitly give the Rules and Bylaws Committee and the Credentials Committee ultimate jurisdiction over delegate selection. These committees, each in their independent capacities, can seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida at their discretion.
2) The mandatory penalty for a state holding a primary before February 5, 2008 is exclusion of that state's delegates from the Democratic National Convention.
FALSE: The mandatory penalty is exclusion of one half of the offending state's pledged and alternate delegates. Unless otherwise provided, the other half of that state's pledged and alternate delegates will be seated at the convention.
3) Any attempt to seat 100% of the pledged or unpledged delegates of Florida and Michigan at this point is "changing the rules."
FALSE: The DNC Rules explicitly contemplate that excluded delegates will eventually be seated at the Convention. For states in violation of the timing rules, the DNC Delegate Selection Rules provide remedies to reinstate all of their delegates, both pledged and unpledged.
4) Florida is not entitled to reinstatement of its delegates because the Democrats in the Florida State Legislature did not make efforts to keep the state's primary in compliance with DNC Rules.
FALSE: Evidence that that a Republican majority in the state legislature set the primary date in violation of the DNC timing rules in spite of efforts by the state's Democratic legislators to keep the primary in compliance is grounds for appealing a DNC decision to strip a state of its delegates.
Though Florida has a 2:1 Republican legislative majority, the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee ruled that the Democratic minority did not make sufficient efforts to keep the primary date in compliance with DNC Rules. The Florida State Party disputes this factual finding. The State Party argues that the Democrats in the legislature were robbed of meaningful power to stop the Republican effort to set an early primary date because Republicans drafted the controlling legislation and packed it with other unrelated issues which the Democrats in the legislature felt they could not in good conscience oppose.
5) The DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee has taken action and is unable to change the sanctions imposed on Florida and Michigan.
FALSE: The Rules and Bylaws Committee has the power to lift any and all automatic sanctions along with the power to impose and modify additional sanctions. The Rules and Bylaws committee also has the power to create its own committee to create an alternative process for delegate selection should the state party not cooperate or be unable to resolve the issue on its own. The Rules and Bylaws Committee failed to use the tools it had to independently resolve the matter in good faith before Florida and Michigan voters went to the polls of the ill timed primaries to express their candidate preference.
6) Hillary violated the DNC Rules by keeping her name on the Michigan ballot.
FALSE: Nowhere in the DNC's Delegate Selection Plans is there any suggestion or command that any candidate remove his or her name from a ballot in a state that is in violation of timing rules. This is why Obama and Edwards were on the Florida ballot, in spite of its primary also being before February 5.
7) Hillary manipulated the process by being the only candidate who kept her name on the Michigan ballot.
FALSE: Kucinich, Dodd and Gravel also kept their names on the Michigan ballot. In fact the decision of some candidates to remove their names from the Michigan ballot was a tactical move designed to curry favor with Democratic Party officials in Iowa who were concerned that the significance of their first-in-the-nation status was being diminished. The risk paid off handsomely for Obama.
8) Because Edwards and Obama were not on the Michigan ballot, that election cannot be considered a legitimate expression of voter preference of a presidential candidate.
FALSE: According to the Delegate Selection Rules & Bylaws, "Delegates shall be allocated in a fashion that fairly reflects the expressed presidential preference or uncommitted status of the primary voters..." The Michigan ballot included an option for "uncommitted" to ensure that voters could express a presidential preference or uncommitted status consistent with this rule. Nothing in the Rules requires a state to allocate delegates to candidates who voluntarily remove their names from the ballot as John Edwards and Barack Obama did.
9) The primaries in Florida and Michigan are invalid because voters were under informed due to the lack of active campaigning.
FALSE: Voters in Florida and Michigan were very well informed. They had ample access to newspapers, television, books, radio, and the Internet. They could have availed themselves of over a year of coverage of the 2008 election. They could watch every campaign commercial on YouTube. They had the same opportunity as the rest of America to watch 17 televised debates.
Moreover, nowhere in the DNC rules does it specify that candidates must campaign directly in a state to make its primary a legitimate expression of voter candidate preference. Voters in Alaska and Hawaii never get visited by the candidates.
10) All the candidates signed a pledge to the DNC not to campaign in the states violating primary timing.
FALSE: The candidates signed no such pledge to the DNC.
11) Hillary violated the rules against campaigning in Florida and Michigan.
FALSE: Jurisdiction over determinations of whether a candidate shall be considered in violation of the relevant rule (Rule 20 C.1.b.) lies with the Rules and Bylaws Committee. Because the Committee has not ruled against either candidate, it is false to assert that either candidate is in violation.
12) Hillary signed a pledge that she violated by remaining on the ballot in Florida and Michigan?
FALSE: The only pledges signed were between the candidates and the state party chairs in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. More to the point, they were not binding on the DNC, which is the only organization that has authority over seating delegates. Thus, these pledges are not controlling over the seating of Florida and Michigan delegates.
13) Hillary's activities in Florida and Michigan look suspicious, between fundraising and holding a victory rally in Florida.
FALSE: Hillary acted well within the letter and spirit of the rules. The rules stipulate that candidates can fundraise in states violating the timing rules and that fundraising activity is not considered impermissible campaigning. Further, the prohibition on campaigning in any state ends as soon as the primary in violation concludes. Hillary's victory party was within the rules because she did not appear at a campaign event in Florida until after the polls closed.
14) Barack Obama would likely win more delegates if there were a new contest.
FALSE: The rules provide that a candidate who campaigns or holds press conferences in a state in violation of timing may not receive any of the pledged or unpledged delegates from that state. Because Barack Obama campaigned in Florida when, on Sunday September 30, 2007, he held an impromptu public news conference in Florida, when he bought television advertising time on stations in markets which included much of Florida, and when he ran a campaign in Michigan to encourage voters to vote "uncommitted," Barack Obama may not be entitled to receive any delegates from Florida or Michigan.
15) Reinstating any of the delegates from either Florida or Michigan would be a travesty against democracy and fair elections. It would be cheating.
FALSE: There are many good and valid reasons for the DNC to have rules regarding delegate selection timing, but none of these reasons relate to ensuring that primaries accurately reflect voter preference. None of these involve the preservation of democracy.
Neither Clinton nor Obama has the power to reinstate the delegates unless they already have won 50% plus 1 of the total delegates. Therefore neither has the power to cheat. This matter lies in the hands of the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee which is neutral.
Were Obama to gain control of the Credentials Committee at the DNC, he would have the power to exclude the delegates from Michigan and Florida. That would be a biased effort to disenfranchise two large states. That would be a travesty and one the Republicans could easily exploit in November.
16) Hillary has changed her position on Florida and Michigan now that she may not receive 50% + 1 of the total delegates need to win before the pledged delegate primaries conclude.
FALSE: From the beginning of the Florida controversy, Hillary has consistently stated that if she wins, meaning securing 50% + 1 of the total delegates, she will reinstate the Florida and Michigan delegation at the convention if the DNC fails to resolve the problem on their own before such time.
Obama has changed his position now that seating the Florida and Michigan delegates would put Hillary in the lead. In August of last year he said that resolving the delegate issue was not his job ("I'm like a player on the field. I shouldn't be setting up the rules" ) and in September he suggested to Florida donors that if he were the nominee whether he would seat in the state's excluded delegates, declaring that he would "Do right by Florida voters."
Currently the race for pledged delegates is so split that neither candidate will receive the 50% plus 1 delegates they need to seal their nomination before the Convention. Obama now wants to set the rules and insists that the DNC must refuse to seat Florida and Michigan's delegates, even though DNC Rules clearly provide remedies to include them. His arguments are not based in the rules and are not in the interest of democracy or the Democratic Party, but only in the fact that those delegates reflect a greater nationwide preference for Hillary Clinton.
17) A new primary or caucus would settle the issue in a fair way that would maintain party unity.
FALSE: A new primary or caucus that complies with timing rules would have been fair if the date had been set before people started voting in Iowa. Once people started voting, each subsequent primary or caucus was affected. The campaigns have campaigned and spent money in reliance on this calendar. The candidates, campaigns, and electorates are not the same today as they were before voting began. Any new contest would be on an unlevel playing field. It is unnecessary, an insult to the voters who already voted, and unacceptable.
2008 Delegate Selection Rules for the Democratic National Convention (hereinafter "DNC Rules"), Rules 19-20, Sections C. 4-9, Section D.
DNC Rules, Rule 20, Section C.1.a.
DNC Rules, Rule 20.C.5-7 provide several remedies including empowering the Rules & Bylaws committee to implement processes to seat the delegates from an offending state
DNC Rules, Rule 20 C.7.
DNC Rules, Rule 20 C.6-7
DNC Rules, Rule 13 A.
DNC Rules, Rule 19 B., Rule 20.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2007/08/25/AR2007082500275. html?hpid=topnews