Clinton: Dispute Over Mich. and Fla. Votes "A Civil Rights Issue"

(CBS)
From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In her harshest words yet over the disputed votes in Florida and Michigan, Hillary Clinton called it "a civil rights issue" and said she plans on sending a letter to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Barack Obama urging them to support seating Florida and Michigan delegates and counting their votes.

Clinton and her campaign know that the road to victory for her must include a resolution to the Florida and Michigan votes, something that has been dragging on since both states voted in January in violation of Democratic Party rules. Later this month the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the DNC will meet to discuss the matter.

But despite rumors that Clinton may throw in the towel in her quest for the nomination Clinton told the crowd of 1,300 women at a fund-raiser, "I am in this race. I am staying in this race."

The event was titled "Generations of Women for Hillary" that was hosted by Hillary, daughter Chelsea and her mother Dorothy Rodham. Clinton tried to put to rest growing anxiety that her candidacy was in its final days.

"There really is no cause for nervousness," Clinton said. "There is no cause for alarm. Sometimes you gotta calm people down a little bit."

Clinton said there is "plenty of time" to make a case against John McCain and made the point that after losing in Iowa in January, she landed in New Hampshire down 9 points on a Thursday and came back to win 5 days later. "You can turn an election around," Clinton said.

The fund-raiser was interrupted briefly at the beginning when a protestor stood on his chair with a large sign that read "Obliterate Iran? Apologize." The sign referred to some comments Clinton made in regards to bombing Iran if they attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon. The man tussled with the women at his table. Clinton looked on in silence. Eventually, Secret Service escorted the man out of the building. Clinton then joked, "I hope he didn't step on any of the cookies." Shortly after another woman stood in protest for the war in Iraq; she left the building without incident.