Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Winning" Florida

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton's campaign website blared that she had "won" in Florida, and she has publicly claimed victory, and also stated that she will work to seat the Florida (and Michigan) delegates at the Democratic national convention.

All of which turns my stomach.

When the Democratic National Committee decided to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates to the convention, because they has scheduled their primaries earlier than allowed by DNC rules, all of the candidates (including Hillary) pledged not to campaign in those states. But Clinton's pledge came when she was leading in the polls.

Then she lost the Iowa caucuses to Barack Obama. Still, she insisted while campaigning in New Hampshire that Michigan and Florida were "meaningless."

Then Clinton "won" Michigan, with 55.4% of the vote. That sounds good, except that neither Obama nor John Edwards were on the ballot. In fact, the only other name on the ballot was Dennis Kucinich, who got 4% of the vote. Where did the other 40% of the votes go? To "Uncommitted," meaning "anyone but Hillary.

Then Clinton lost South Carolina. Badly. Obama out-polled her by two-to-one. Then, all of a sudden, Florida starts to look better to Clinton, and she starts talking about "listening" to Florida and using her delegates to seat delegates from Michigan (which she had already won) and Florida (where she was leading in the polls).

And then, just two days before the "meaningless" Florida primary, and nine days before "Super Tuesday," when hundreds of delegates will be at stake, Clinton takes the time to go to Florida, making stops in Sarasota and Miami. The events are "private," so she hasn't broken her pledge, but it gave her a chance to maintain her support among local political leaders, and put her name in the Florida newspapers.

Florida voters go to the polls, and Clinton gets a plurality of the vote, 49.7% to Obama's 33%. What does that mean? It means that a majority of Florida Democrats voted against Clinton. It also means that, in states in which Obama does not campaign, Clinton may be able to get more votes, if for no other reason than simple name recognition.

And then Clinton claimed victory, and stated again that she wanted Michigan and Florida delegates seated at the convention.

To call this "opportunistic" is perhaps an understatement. I think it is dishonorable. Clinton may have adhered to the letter of her pledge, but not it's spirit, and she seems to have no compunctions against using Obama's adherence to the pledge against him.

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