Lawyers cloud Clinton’s hopes

Politics,Bill Sammon

Hillary Clinton’s dwindling hopes for the presidential nomination suffered another setback Wednesday when Democratic Party lawyers concluded that no more than half the delegates from Florida and Michigan can be seated at the August convention.

Clinton wants the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee to restore all the delegates that were stripped from the states for holding their primaries too early. Clinton won both elections, although rival Barack Obama’s name was not on the ballot in Michigan.

"We are urging 100 percent of the delegations be seated and that each delegate have a full vote," Clinton adviser Harold Ickes said Wednesday. "Our position … recognizes the vote of 2.3 million people, which just cannot be blithely swept aside as the Obama campaign apparently has been willing to do."

Assuming the bylaws committee follows the guidance of the party’s lawyers when it meets Saturday, Clinton would have to wait until the convention to appeal the ruling to the Credentials Committee.

The Obama camp said the bylaws committee would not change the delegate math enough to threaten Obama’s claim to the nomination.

"We’re about 46 away from having the delegate numbers we need to claim the nomination," said Obama adviser David Bonior. "We expect that we’ll have the numbers in short order."

Even Ickes acknowledged that Obama will lead Clinton by more than 100 delegates on Tuesday, when the last of the Democratic primaries are held. But Clinton is hoping that the difference will be small enough to persuade uncommitted superdelegates to support her over Obama.

Clinton supporters, especially those from Florida and Michigan, are planning to demonstrate at the site of Saturday’s meeting, the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington.

"There are lots of people very passionate about this topic who are planning on coming down to express their point of view," said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson.

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