Clinton Says 'No' To A Caucus Do-Over

Hillary Clinton says the Democratic Party is stuck in a very tough spot as party leaders debate whether--and how--to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan at the nominating convention this August. And Clinton's latest comments, in an interview with U.S. News yesterday, won't make resolving the fuss any easier.

Many Democrats want a revote in both states, since the Democratic National Committee disqualified all their delegates because the states' primaries were held too early in violation of party rules. Some party officials are suggesting caucuses as an option to get the delegates qualified--but that doesn't pass muster with Clinton. "I would not accept a caucus," she told us. "I think that would be a great disservice to the 2 million people who turned out and voted. I think that they want their votes counted."

Florida held its primary January 29 and Michigan January 15. Clinton won both, although Obama's name wasn't on the ballot in Michigan and both candidates agreed not to campaign in either state, in deference to party rules.

Caucuses, held in living rooms, schools, and other neighborhood locations, are a less costly way of nominating delegates than primaries, which require more supervisory personnel and equipment. And the turnout is usually much lower in caucuses, since several hours are needed to participate rather than a few minutes at a voting booth. But there is a political reason for Clinton's opposition: Barack Obama has dominated the caucuses so far, with superior organization and more motivated supporters.

Further explaining her opposition to the caucus solution, Clinton said, "A lot of people would be disenfranchised because of the timing and whatever the particular rules were. This is really going to be a serious challenge for the Democratic Party because the voters in Michigan and Florida are the ones being hurt, and certainly with respect to Florida the Democrats were dragged into doing what they did by a Republican governor and a Republican Legislature. They didn't have any choice whatsoever. And I don't think that there should be any do-over or any kind of a second run in Florida. I think Florida should be seated."

Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said yesterday that a revote in both states would be acceptable. But no one has figured out the details or how to pay the multimillion-dollar price tag.

By Kenneth T. Walsh