Top Clinton operative Harold Ickes argued in a conference call yesterday that the Democrats should change their rules and seat the Florida and Michigan delegates who are prepared to vote for Hillary. The Democratic National Committee voted, before the primaries began, to strip any states that scheduled early primaries in violation of the DNC’s rules of their delegates. Hillary campaigned in Florida and Michigan but Obama, relying on the enforcement of the DNC’s rules, didn’t. In Michigan, he took his name off the ballot. Now the Clinton camp wants to change the rules:
Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign who voted for Democratic Party rules that stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, now is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass.
In a conference call Saturday, the longtime Democratic Party member contended the DNC should reconsider its tough sanctions on the two states, which held early contests in violation of party rules. He said millions of voters in Michigan and Florida would be otherwise disenfranchised — before acknowledging moments later that he had favored the sanctions.
Ickes explained that he isn’t really contradicting himself, he’s just wearing a different hat now:
“There’s been no change,” Ickes said. “I was not acting as an agent of Mrs. Clinton. We had promulgated rules and those rules said the timing provision … provides for certain sanctions, automatic sanctions as a matter of fact, if a state such as Michigan or Florida violates those timing provisions.”
“With respect to the stripping, I voted as a member of the Democratic National Committee. Those were our rules and I felt I had an obligation to enforce them,” he said.
Hillary herself was even more dishonest:
“The rules provide for a vote at the convention to seat contested delegations,” she said. “This goes back to the 1940s in my memory. There is nothing unusual about this. My husband didn’t wrap up the nomination until June. Usually it takes awhile to sort all this out. That’s why there are rules. If there are contested delegations, the convention votes on it.”
But the Michigan and Florida delegations aren’t “contested.” There is no question that under the DNC rules, which Obama relied upon, they are not to be seated. The Clinton camp now wants to change the rules after the game has been played. For Hillary to say, “[t]hat’s why there are rules,” is a mind-bending Clintonism of which even her husband would be proud.
All of this is music to the ears of us Republicans. It’s hard to imagine a worse train wreck for the Democrats than a convention at which Hillary snookers Obama out of the nomination by changing the rules to seat delegates from states where Obama didn’t campaign out of respect for the DNC’s sanctions. But I’m pretty sure it won’t happen. The Democrats put up with the Clintons’ strong-arm tactics when they didn’t think they had a choice. Now that they do have a choice, they aren’t likely to let shady dealings by the Clintons destroy their chances for victory in November.
PAUL adds: I agree and would add only that I doubt the Clintons’ strong-arm tactics and shady dealings ever particularly bothered the Democrats. If the Democrats were somehow to conclude that it is in their interest to snooker Obama out of the nomination, they would do so in a heartbeat. And many might well be inclined to do so in a scenario where it is unclear where self-interest lies.
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