Clinton Campaign Gearing Up For Convention Showdown


(CBS)
From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

MILWAUKEE -- At this stage in the campaign, all eyes are fixed on Wisconsin on Tuesday, followed by Texas and Ohio on Mar. 4. But behind the scenes, the Hillary Clinton campaign is gearing up for what could be a nasty fight over the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in August.

The current delegate count shows Clinton and Barack Obama in a relative dead heat, with Obama slightly ahead. But what the Clinton campaign hopes will happen is that delegates from Florida and Michigan - two states she won but whose delegates are not counted because these states moved up their primary dates without the blessing of the DNC - will actually get seated.

A source close to the Clinton campaign tells CBS News "Ultimately, it comes down to these last remaining states, superdelegates and what happens in Florida and Michigan," the source added, "I think that is still the untold story."

Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe countered the Clinton campaign's delegate strategy, saying, "The Clinton campaign should focus on winning pledged delegates as a result of elections, not these say or do anything to win tactics that could undermine Democrats' ability to win the general election."

During a conference call with reporters on Saturday, Harold Ickes a longtime advisor to the Clintons said, "Both of those states are critically important…over 1.6 million voted (in Florida)."

Ickes recognized the importance of Ohio and Texas but said "This nominating process is long from over ... We're going to win this nomination." When asked if that meant they were prepared to go all the way to the convention, Ickes said "the answer is yes, we're going to the convention."

The Clinton campaign feels that if they hold on throughout the primaries until the convention, odds are that the Democratic Party will choose to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates.

"We are the party that constantly fights voter disenfranchisement. We are also the party that is hungry for a win and we understand how important these two states are in the general election," the Clinton campaign source said.

"An empty Florida and Michigan section at the convention would hurt our chances in the general election," the source added.

And the Clinton source argues if that happens, and Obama is the nominee, "it would be pretty devastating to his chances in the general election without Florida and Michigan."