Thursday, March 13, 2008

Harkin: Split Florida and Michigan delegates evenly

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin says he's one of a group of top Democrats floating a plan to split Florida and Michigan delegates evenly between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

"It's elegant in its simplicity," Harkin, D-Iowa, told Iowa Independent and other media on his conference call just minutes ago.

Harkin referred to the plan as "half-Clinton, half-Obama." The plan gives the two key states a place at the table without rewarding their past rule-breaking as the Democratic parties there line-jumped with voting. Such a split would not help either Obama or Clinton on its own, Harkin said.

"It puts them in the same position," Harkin said.

Harkin said would move both candidates forward in elected delegates without allowing two states that violated the nominating process order to play the potential roles of kingmakers.

"That way there is no reward for those states having gone outside those rules," Harkin said.

He added, "Let's play by the rules we have."

At issue is the Hillary Clinton-backed efforts to allow delegates from Florida and Michigan to be seated at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) even though those states jumped ahead in the nominating line, a brazen power grab for more influence in the process.

But the rules of Hillary’s own party (ones that were in place well before Iowa) say the calendar-leaping viola-tions should cost Florida and Michigan their delegates.

Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., wants that changed as she had an open field in Michigan where U.S. Sen. Obama, D-Ill., didn’t have his name on the ballot because he adhered to presi-dential nominating rules.

Florida and Michigan didn’t like the idea of Iowa and New Hampshire being first so they just flat out violated a carefully crafted schedule designed to take into account tradition (Iowa) and diversity (Nevada and South Carolina being moved up

Harkin said he's not the only one advocating the half-Clinton, half-Obama idea and that he's not pressing it in any formal way.

"As you might guess from the Clinton campaign, they don't like it," said Harkin who is officially neutral in the Democratic presidential contest.

Another idea being suggested is allowing Florida and Michigan to re-vote. Harkin had entertained the prospect as viable but now says he's firmly against it.

"If we allow a re-vote who is going to abide by the rules in the future," Harkin said.

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