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Wexler: The Rules are the Rules

INSIDE THE RULES AND BYLAWS COMMITTEE MEETING -- Florida Rep. Robert Wexler empathized with the plight of his home state but insisted that the Jan. 29 vote was not a "normal" primary and cannot be treated as one.

"Our state acted outside of the rules of this committee," said Wexler, the designate of Sen. Barack Obama's (Ill.) campaign. "We cannot reverse the fact that this election was held months ago without a compliant delegate selection plan."

Wexler insisted time and again that his candidate had followed the guidelines laid out by the Rules and Bylaws Committee and that punishing the Illinois senator for doing so made little sense.

"The Obama campaign respected this rule's committee policy," Wexler said to huge applause from those in the room.

Wexler voiced his support for the petition laid out by Jon Ausman earlier in the day, which would seat all of the state's superdelegates and half of the 185 pledged delegates despite the fact that it would give Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a delegate pickup.

"Senator Obama offers this concession in order to prove reconciliation," said Wexler.

In the question and answer session following Wexler's presentation, the Clinton forces on the Rules and Bylaws committee -- Tina Flournoy and Harold Ickes -- struck.

Ickes sought to question Wexler's idea that the Obama camp was offering conciliation based on its willingness to seat half of the pledged delegate -- a move that would give Clinton a 19 delegate gain.

Wexler retorted that 19 delegates was the total Clinton gained in victories in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The tension between Wexler and Ickes was palpable.

The crowd, which had been generally polite until now, cheered wildly and hissed occasionally during Wexler's presentation.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 31, 2008; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Joyner Makes the Clinton Florida Case
Next: The Michigan Case Begins


To Harold Ickes and Tina Fournoy -- oooh that hurt!

In a WWF/MMA style smackdown, Bob Wexler's passionate and reasoned arguments silenced these two most "ardent" supporters of Mrs. Clinton and did what we had been hoping for for the past 4 months -- shut 'em down (quoting Chef Gordon Ramsey).

Make all of the threats you want Ickes, cry for fairness you crazy-eyed, angry, bitter Flournoy (oops, used that word "bitter"), and when the two of you have cried out all of your tears, either get behind Barak Obama, the Democratic nominee and next President of the United States or immediately resign from the Democratic Party and vote McCain. Your move, you bunch of whinning babies!

Posted by: Don in No. Virginia | June 1, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

SC (and NV for that matter) broke no rules. The states had to apply to go ahead of Super Tuesday. In today's record, MI also applied for an early primary, but the petition was denied. MI (and FL) went ahead anyway in violation of the DNC rules.

So, yes...the DNC has authority to set the provisions of how its elections will be conducted. Unfortunately, no court in this land will touch a political trying to run their own organization. That's why the cases keep getting thrown out of court, like what's going to happen to the one that's currently waiting for a hearing.

Posted by: ldsw | May 31, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse


Didn't a Democrat introduce the legislation in the first place to move up the date? That much has been reported. So, let the facts speak here. FL had its hands tied because that information was probably in the hands of the DNC Rules Committee. No hiding here.

FL Democrats had a hand in helping to move up the date, and they could not deny that, and they were just as complicit as the Republicans in that effort. To blame the DNC, Obama, the Republican governor of FL (who signed the bill into law based on the bipartisan support it received) and everyone else is really stretching here and is really disingenuous.

Posted by: | | May 31, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

In the coffin, goes the final nail
to a campaign that, long ago did fail.

People at the DNC, were not mean
By telling Hillary, she is NOT the queen.

Donna Quixote may tilt at the wind mill
and embarrass herself with a red-faced Bill.

The rules committee, was more then fair
seating delegates who, should not get a chair.

Bill, Hillary, and Harold can whine and cry
but this is a campaign, that will surely die.

Hillary, if you continue to slash and burn
neither veep, nor majority leader shall you earn.

Posted by: NorcalRuss | May 31, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Item 1 = Clinton won Florida, no 50-50 awarding of our delegate or our vote. We each voted with 100% of our vote.
Item 2 = I voted for John Edwards, however he had no right to usurp my vote for any candidate other than himself. I and many of my 60+ age widows voted for him and he had no right to take our votes and give them to someone we would not have voted for in a hundred years. Had his name not be on our ballot we would have voted for Clinton.
Item 3 = What can't the DNC understand about our Republican Gov. and Legislature being responsible for the date of the Florida Primary. They are in control and they set the date, not our elected Democrats. Remember 2000 & 2004. Need I say more !

Posted by: | May 31, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

FL voters, your delegates have been offered the "extraordinary concession" of 1/2 a vote...from the lightweight who advertised in FL (due to extraordinary circumstances, no doubt) while his opponent didn't.

This is all too extraordinary.

Come Nov, give your vote to McCain. He will accept it as 1 full vote, and trust me, it will count.

Posted by: AG | May 31, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse



I am a Florida voter who voted for Clinton. I demand my vote be counted in full. Like most FL voters, I was not able to attend the protest since like most FL voters I have a job and responsibilities which do not allow me to uproot and jump on a plane. Any way I wish all of us could have been there and I appreciate the efforts of others on my behalf.

Rules are meant to be broken if they serve to screw over voters. Every vote must be counted OR ELSE...imagine the repercussions. Obama has already damaged his image severely by thwarting the voters. I beleive Obama has already lost by his own actions.

Thank you Sen. Joyner and Sen. Bill Nelson for speaking up for us. We will not settle for anything but full recognition of our voters by the inept and bias DNC.


BTW, let me make this clear.

The Florida Democratic Party has been fighting the DNC decision to strip us of our delegates SINCE THIS BEGAN. This has been going on for over 6 months with a lawsuit and other actions. They do so on the voters behalf since we have been assuaging them with angry phone calls and e-mails. Do NOT forget the elected officials SERVE THE VOTERS, NOT the other way around.

Posted by: Nexxus7 | May 31, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The Clinton camp has been shrill and desperate to win the nomination, regardless of party rules. Where is there a sense of personal honor when a candidate seeks to overturn party rules she and her surrogates so strongly insisted upon before the primaries began?

Counting votes where Barack did not campaign is nearly like ratifying the results of Soviet style elections. In most states he was well behind Hillary in polls until he campaigned and more voters became familiar with him, as well as his positions. Being allowed to campaign and allow voters an opportunity to get to know candidates is a fundamental element of democracy. Anything less is a sham election.

The only fair solution under these circumstances is to seat half the delegates, evenly distributed between the two candidates. Anything more will encourage states to break party rules in the future and show contempt for the democratic process, whereby candidates have the same opportunity to campaign to fairly win votes.

Posted by: Independent | May 31, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

An impure, tainted election is trash and must be thrown out in its entirety.

Posted by: BlueDem | May 31, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

On Aug. 25, when the DNC's rules panel declared Florida's primary date out of order, it agreed by a near-unanimous majority to exceed the 50 percent penalty called for under party rules. Instead, the group stripped Florida of all 210 delegates to underscore its displeasure with Florida's defiance and to discourage other states from following suit.

In doing so, the DNC essentially committed itself, for fairness' sake, to strip the similarly defiant Michigan of all 156 of its delegates three months later. Clinton held tremendous potential leverage over this decision, and not only because she was then widely judged the likely nominee.

>>>>>Of the committee's 30 members, a near-majority of 12 were Clinton supporters. All of them--most notably strategist Harold Ickes--voted for Florida's full disenfranchisement. (The only dissenting vote was cast by a Tallahassee, Fla., city commissioner who supported Obama.)<<<<<<<


Posted by: BlueDem | May 31, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"I'm following all this solely via the Fix, which I am really enjoying as a way of getting info plus informed commentary plus a little humor. Go Fix!"

The Fix tends to be slightly less biased and fanatically partisan than other Wash Post political reporters. That makes his column a bright spot in a Wasteland of Biased Democratic Primary Coverage of the Washington Post. Definitely the objective information content of the Fix columns beats the hell out of other Post columns. Kind of like blogger-meets-Reuters-meets-Washington-Post.

Posted by: AsperGirl | May 31, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

This committee proceeding today is a good reflection of the respective campaigns. Like Wexler, for example. He's well coiffed, articulate, combative.

The Obama people are like the popular kids with the good allowances, who come off as assertive and aggressive no matter what. The Clinton people are like the nerds who are right, have the answers, and aren't as quick to speak.

It's the face men vs. the nerd girls. The people who are entertaining to watch versus the people who are instructive to listen to.

Posted by: AsperGirl | May 31, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The sad reality is that, now we understand that all the Hillary Clinton haters rushed to vote for Barack Obama as a way to express their "anybody, but Hillary sentiment". Their vote was driven by emotion and Barack could had been "anybody".

The sad reality is that, as the Hillary-haters got to know the "real" Barack Hussein and the endless list of his close family and friends that share a pattern of hate for America and the desire to overthrow the american values and lifestyle as we know it;

The sad reality is that, Barack's early supporters now find themselves in a very difficult situation as they have realized their vote for him has brought close to the american presidency, an extremist supremacist group of individuals lead by Barack Hussein Obama.

The sad reality is that, americans that love our country have only one choice if Barack gets the democratic nomination:
They can choose not to vote and sit back at home or...they vote for John McCain, a patriot american that loves America and risked his life to preserve democracy.

The sad reality is that, we know that Barack Hussein Obama is unelectable!

Posted by: Manolete | May 31, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Current speaker making the point that the DNC lawyers submitted memo stating that only 1/2 of delegates could be waivered by the R&B committee by DNC rules. But speaker pointed out that the R&B committee granted full waivers (100% delegates seated) to South Carolina, Iowa, etc.

So either the R&B committee acted improperly in granting 100% waivers (seating 100% delegates) to the states who broke the calendar but were forgiven (So. Carolina for example) and those states should lose half their delegates, or the R&B committee has authority to grant 100% waivers (seating 100% of the delegates) for both MI & FL.

Why would the DNC lawyers say the R&B committee can only seat 50% of the MI, FL delegates on a waiver of the states' violation of calendar rules, if the pro-Obama states got 100% of their delegates seated on their R&B committee waivers of those states' violations of calendar rules?

Roll back the seating of the delegates from So. Carolina to 50%, if the R&B committee didn't have the authority under the DNC rules to grant 100% waivers!

The blatant hypocrisy of the DNC lawyers' memo, with no attempt to even explain the inconsistency with the past waiver grants, is disrespectful.

This is a good bone of contention for Clinton to reject any outcome less than 100% of delegates being seated and take the dispute to the convention.

Posted by: AsperGirl | May 31, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Wexler made Ickes look foolish? Never ask a question of someone UNLESS you know the answer!!!! After hearing Wexler, I would like to see him VP or heading legislation process for Obama when he becomes the first black American President.

Posted by: Dan Sample | May 31, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I loved how Wexler basically shut Ickes up. Funny how Wexler got questioned by three Clintonites, two of which were like "well gee, why not count 100% and not 50%" to which Wexler replied "well duh, you all made the rules". Then the last questioner's statement about not being psychic about how close this would be...of course not, she thought like Clinton did that this would be over by Super Tuesday. Maybe next time they'll think ahead to this possibility, but for now, the rules is the rules.

Posted by: Ken | May 31, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

This is unbelievable.
Why is it that we never see such spectacles from the GOP?
Why is that the Democratic Party cannot ever, it seems, get it together enough to win even a "no-brainer" contest like the 2008 Presidential election should have been.
Why do I have the growing, gnawing and uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach that I am now watching the first event of John McCain's inaugural?

Posted by: Michael from So.Dak. | May 31, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

wexler rocked....picking wexler as their advocate shows once again why the obama campaign is winning....

damn, they're good.

Posted by: oh boy | May 31, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I am struck by how disingenuous both Ickes and Flournoy were in their questioning. Wexler presented Obama's case very well and gave Ickes a deserved spanking. What a jerk.

Posted by: Chuck | May 31, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

FYI - Florida Dems say go to the polls because it will be gettting lots of good media attention.


See for yourselves

Posted by: John of Arizona | May 31, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

There were rules of fair play. MI & FL violated those rules and only now that HRC has a "lead" in those "primaries" does she care anything about those voters.

In no case should 100% be seated. In case should any of MI votes be seated. They've done this before and giving them their way now will only encourage them to do it again.

Posted by: Gigi | May 31, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I am seriously afraid that this election will go to McCain... in which case a loving family member should pull the plug on the dem party.

Posted by: ep thorn | May 31, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm following all this solely via the Fix, which I am really enjoying as a way of getting info plus informed commentary plus a little humor. Go Fix! Hope you brought your own coffee if there isn't any there for free.

But now I'm confused. There is obviously an audience in the "public seats." And they are obviously insanely interested to be indoors at such an arcane event on what is so far a nice spring day.

Fix, can you clarify whether the audience as a whole seems to be pro-Obama, pro-Clinton, or some unanticipated third flavor such as interested political buff (we do have them in DC)? If they are cheering and hissing, is it equally on both sides, tilted one way or the other, or are they actually listening to and being swayed by the speakers? Earlier they sounded like they were pro-Clinton (from your reporting), now I am not getting a clear picture of WHO they are, considered as a group.

Also, why aren't the co-chairs gaveling them to stop cheering and hissing?

Posted by: Fairfax Voter | May 31, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

This IS the UFC for people like you and I.

Damn I love politics.

Posted by: Brian | May 31, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Wexler's comeback to Ickes made me double check that I was indeed watching CSPAN and not Ultimate Fighting Championship. Smacked him into Sunday.

Posted by: JT | May 31, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

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