Democrat leaders snuff out Hillary Clinton’s last hope of the nomination

Officials decide Michigan and Florida delegates will only have half votes at party convention as Barack Obama suddenly quits his controversial Chicago church

The squeeze on Hillary Clinton to relinquish the Democratic presidential nomination appeared to be intensifying last night, as party officials edged towards rejecting her demand that all votes cast in the disputed primary contests in Michigan and Florida be counted.

As they did so, there came news from the campaign of Senator Barack Obama that he has resigned from his church in Chicago in the continuing aftermath of inflammatory remarks by former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. These were an issue his opponents were unlikely to have left unexploited.

But the main drama was taking place in a Washington hotel. Meeting amid high emotion under the scrutiny of demonstrators and TV cameras, members of the party’s rules and bylaws committee worked late into the evening on a compromise package that would only partially legitimise the results of the primaries in both states. At stake were 368 delegates from Michigan and Florida whose status has been in limbo because of an earlier decision to punish those states for holding their primaries too early. Before yesterday, the position was that none of those delegates would be seated at the party convention in August.

Mrs Clinton and Barack Obama did not campaign in either state, and in Michigan, Mr Obama was not even on the ballot. A compromise deal will mean a net gain of delegates for Mrs Clinton, but it will not help significantly to dent the delegate lead already held by Mr Obama.

This was Mrs Clinton’s last best hope of stopping the Obama train, but with no sign yesterday that the rules committee was inclined to go that far, the endgame is now upon her. All that remains are primaries in Puerto Rico today and Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday. It will then be for remaining uncommitted super-delegates to end the fight.

The dilemma faced by the rules committee and the party as a whole regarding Michigan and Florida was not small. While wanting to protect its right to enforce party rules, it also faces pressure not to be seen to be disenfranchising the voters of two states that will be vital in November.

For that reason, the Obama camp quickly made clear it was open to compromise, even if it meant narrowing its candidate’s delegate lead. Speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign with regard to Florida, Congressman Robert Wexler told the rules committee that “Florida certainly deserves to play a key

role in the nominating process”. He added, however, that Florida’s contest “was not a normal primary election” and a 100 per cent reinstatement of its delegates would be unjust.

Mr Wexler thus came out to endorse reseating all Florida delegates with a half vote for each, a move that would give Mrs Clinton a net gain of 19. “Senator Obama should be commended for his willingness to offer this concession,” he announced to a ruckus of cheers in the hall. The notion that Mr Obama was making a concession at all was hotly contested by Clinton lawyer Harold Ickes.

Michigan was a much trickier conundrum, because of the absence of Mr Obama on ballot papers. The committee was considering the legality of allocating delegates to Mr Obama proportional to the 40 per cent of Michigan primary voters who punched “uncommitted”. Mrs Clinton would get the remainder.

The Obama campaign hopes that once the last votes are cast on Tuesday night, uncommitted super-delegates will come in a rush to his column, allowing him to secure the nomination, possibly before the end of the week. In a show of confidence – some might say rash chutzpah – Mr Obama will late on Tuesday hold a “victory rally” at the same convention centre in St Paul, Minnesota, that will host the Republican Party’s nominating convention in early September.

The party leadership, including chairman Howard Dean and the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, have made clear they want the nomination struggle resolved as soon as possible after Tuesday.

Withdrawing this week is one option for the former first lady. But she has others, including appealing whatever ruling on Florida and Michigan emerges this weekend, perhaps all the way to the Denver convention. She is perfectly entitled to do so, even if it would give party grandees the shivers because of the damage it would do to unity.

Mrs Clinton argues that she is ahead of Mr Obama in popular votes in the primary marathon, if not delegates. That may just be true if you do count all votes cast in Florida and Michigan.

With that, and with the wide victory she expects to score in Puerto Rico tonight, Mrs Clinton may make one last desperate pitch to super-delegates to side with her.

Meanwhile, Mr Obama’s choice of St Paul for his Tuesday event is raising eyebrows. “It’s not too subtle,” said University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs.

For rolling comment on the US election visit: independent.co.uk/campaign08

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
These photographs released by the University of Maryland Medical Center show images of full face transplant recipient 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia
mediaGQ front page features man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: JAVA DEVELO...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£475 - £550 per day: Progressive Recruitment: MDAX / Dynamics AX / Microsoft D...

.Net/ C# Developer/ Analyst Programmer - Eciting new Role

£45000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .NET/ C# .Pr...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on