FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
And now we're going to dig into another issue reshaping the political landscape, those superdelegates. To put it simply superdelegates have superpowers. Many are high-ranking party and elected officials. Unlike the delegates selected through primaries, they can go to a party convention and make up their own minds about who to vote for.
About one in five Democratic delegates is a superdelegate, including frequents NEWS & NOTES contributor Donna Brazile. Hey, how are you doing?
Ms. DONNA BRAZILE (NPR Contributor, Superdelegate): I'm great. I'm still super.
CHIDEYA: You're always super. And you said on CNN if 795 of my colleagues decide this election I will quit the Democratic Party. Now, you of all people have shown a loyalty to Democratic politics. You have been helping out since you were a little girl in politics, managed the candidacy of former Vice President Al Gore. Would you really quit the party?
Ms. BRAZILE: Oh, absolutely. I would quit the position I currently hold on the DNC as a superdelegate. That is and that large number of the Democratic National Committee as well as the chair of the Voting Rights Institute. Let me tell you why I feel so strongly, and I respect my 795 colleagues. They have earned their seat at the table. They are governors, they are members of Congress, House and Senate. Barack Obama is a superdelegate, Hillary Clinton is a superdelegate, former President Bill Clinton is a superdelegate. We also have activists, party leaders, teachers, organizers. I mean, we come from all walks of life, from all regions of the country.
And yes, we're black, white, gay, straight, we're old, we're disabled, we're veterans. I mean, I can name it because we represent the depth and breadth and the diversity of the Democratic Party. But I think at this moment we're in a virtual tie. This has been a historic election with two equally compelling interesting candidates. I don't have a favorite; I love them both.
Tomorrow I will cast a vote in the District of Columbia. That vote is my vote. But the vote that I cast as a superdelegate, since I'm uncommitted, should reflect the will of the people. It should also help the party determine who is the best candidate to become president if we end up in a tie.
CHIDEYA: Well, Donna, let me just ask this flat out: what other options are there? I mean, what are you suggesting the solution is other than having people who have these exalted positions make the...
Ms. BRAZILE: Here's what I'm concerned about: this past weekend the voters in Louisiana participated, the voters in Nebraska participated. Why don't we allow the voters in Maryland, Virginia, D.C., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Indiana, Oregon, and I can continue to go on and on, give them a chance to weigh in on this decision. They may break the tie. They make decide that, you know what, they can make this decision without the superdelegates, you know, crowning a queen or a king prematurely.
All I'm saying is let's not end the process. What I as worried about after Super Tuesday is that all the analysis started focusing on the 796 party makers. We represent only 20 percent of the convention. Eighty percent of the convention will be selected by people at the grass root level. Pledge delegates. Let's see if they can decide this before we throw our weight and stop the process.
Now, I know that as a party we have to deal with the two states that did not comply with the rules - Michigan and Florida. That should be on the table for discussion at some point. Whether it's now when the rules committee could reconsider their sanctions or it could be later when the credentials committee have decided they will seek some votes from those two states.
But at this point as superdelegates, all I'm saying is that we have not committed. Let's wait for some of these states to, you know, sort of help sort this out. And, by the way, this is one of the most exciting elections I've ever seen. I never thought I would see an election like this. People were standing out in the cold and the wet snow yesterday in Maine to cast their vote.
Let's give these people a chance to vote. And if we cannot sort it out then we'll go back to the rules and the rules state that superdelegates also count.
CHIDEYA: Well, Donna, stay with us. We're going to come back to you after the break. We're talking with Donna Brazile, NEWS & NOTES's contributor, as well as multifaceted political analyst about the politics of primaries, superdelegates and brokered conventions.
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CHIDEYA: This is NPR News.
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CHIDEYA: This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.
We're back with Donna Brazile and we're talking about superdelegates and how they can shape the Democratic nominee for president. Donna is a superdelegate, she's also a Democrat, and she's uniquely qualified to speak on those issues for that reason. Donna, welcome back.
Ms. BRAZILE: Thank you so much for having me.
CHIDEYA: So I understand that you told the New York Times that basically your niece, among nine million other people, has been lobbying you. What does it feel like to get that — first of all, how did your niece call up? And, you know, did she know that you were a superdelegate. And what about all the other people who were calling you up? What do you say to them?
Ms. BRAZILE: Well, first of all, I'm flattered by the amount of attention that we all are getting, not just the superdelegates but those who are out there running for pledge delegate today across the country. Look, Democrats are hungry of a victory. They want change. They are tired of George Bush and they don't want to see four more years of Bush/Cheney.
So I think that's the reason why we see such high levels of enthusiasm. My niece G. Mallory(ph) is going to graduate from Southern University this spring. And when she called me and said, Auntie Donna, are you a superdelegate? I see your name on this list. And I don't know (unintelligible) our names but we are public.
There's no such thing as a secret list. Everyone knows who we are. We're governors, we're members of Congress, as I mentioned before, and we're party leaders and activists. Sheila's calling because she intended to vote on Saturday in Louisiana and she wanted to make sure that I somehow or another represented her voice and her vote. And I thanked her for her call and I also encouraged her to get out on time from school.
But I would love to see a process by which we allow as many voters as possible, and maybe we have to go to Pennsylvania on April 22, perhaps we'll go as late as May in North Carolina. But I trust the voters to decide this election. I saw an election stopped by the count in the Supreme Court. I know how that feels when all the votes are not counted. That's why I'm also raising concerns about how we address the situation in both Florida and Michigan.
But as a superdelegate I really want to make a responsible decision and I would like to see more voters participate. I'm just speaking up for the people. I will be fine. I will always support my party, but I would like to see more people involved in the process.
CHIDEYA: When you think about these issues of how much power the parties have over decision-making versus the voters who go to the polls for the parties, do you think that the Democratic Party does not actually trust the voters?
Ms. BRAZILE: We're a party that says that we believe in equal justice under the law, we're a party that says that we believe in fairness and equality for all citizens regardless of their background, their race, their sexual orientation, their age, their status in life. And therefore we believe in fairness and equality and justice for all.
There's no reason why we should stop this process. I think Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, one of those two senators, will pull out. They will either come from behind and pull out or they will, you know, start from where they are this week and go forward. We'll see. But we have some big states, big, big states at stake — Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania. We need those states in the fall.
So I don't want it said that we had to stop the count before we reach Ohio because one of the candidates is now leading in superdelegates. Let's allow the people in Akron, Ohio that have lost jobs to overseas, let's let the people down in Texas, people that are worried about hurricanes, about flooding, about paying their mortgage on time. Let them decide. Once they decide I will back their wishes.
CHIDEYA: All right. On that note, Donna, thanks so much.
Ms. BRAZILE: Thank you.
CHIDEYA: That was NEWS & NOTES contributor Donna Brazile. She is a proud Democrat and author of the book "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics," and she joined us from Washington, D.C.
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