After Tense DNC Meeting, What Happens Next? Saturday's decision by the Democratic National Committee to award half a vote to Florida and Michigan delegates means different things for both of the party's remaining candidates — Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. NPR Political Editor Ken Rudin updates listeners on what happens next.
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After Tense DNC Meeting, What Happens Next?

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After Tense DNC Meeting, What Happens Next?

After Tense DNC Meeting, What Happens Next?

After Tense DNC Meeting, What Happens Next?

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Saturday's decision by the Democratic National Committee to award half a vote to Florida and Michigan delegates means different things for both of the party's remaining candidates — Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. NPR Political Editor Ken Rudin updates listeners on what happens next.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

We continue our conversation about the Democratic primary battle with NPR's political editor Ken Rudin, our political junkie. Welcome back.

KEN RUDIN: Hi, Michel.

MARTIN: So you heard me ask Debbie Dingell, was it worth it? Now you were at that meeting all day. What do other people say about that?

RUDIN: Well, had Michigan - first of all, the reason Michigan got in the problem it was, and Debbie Dingell didn't mention this, was that they violated the DNC rules. We could question whether the DNC rules were correct or not but 48 states adhered to the rules. Michigan and Florida did not. Had Michigan stayed where it was in mid-February, perhaps they could have been a king or queen-maker having had a primary.

Hillary Clinton theoretically could have won it. She could have gotten a bunch of delegates, far more than she got out of this weekend. She only netted five delegates out of Michigan, which is pretty amazing. So had she won the primary, for all we know, we could have been talking about Hillary Clinton being the nominee right now.

MARTIN: So what is the next move for the Clinton campaign after this?

RUDIN: Well, Harold Ickey said at the Saturday meeting that it is their prerogative that they could bring the challenge to the full credentials meeting - Credentials Committee, 168 members of the Democratic National Committee. They would meet in either late July or early August, and they would protest - they would appeal, basically, the Clinton campaign would appeal what the Rules Committee decided on Saturday. The half vote, things like that, giving Barack Obama delegates even though he wasn't on the ballot in Michigan. And whatever the Credentials Committee does, that would have to go and be ratified by the full convention in Denver in late August.

The last thing Democratic leaders want now is a battle to go on the floor. We've seen in the past, Kennedy versus Carter 1980, Humphrey and McGovern in '72. When you go to the floor, you really - you don't unite the party, and what the party wants more than anything else is to rally behind the nominee and focus on John McCain.

MARTIN: Now this leads to my next question because I want to ask you about Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican primary was on Sunday, yesterday. Senator Clinton won big, 68 percent to Barack Obama's 32 percent. Now the Clinton campaign is now making their argument that she's won more popular votes. Is that true and do these late primary losses for Obama undermine his credibility? Particularly given the fact that the Clinton campaign is saying that it's going to continue to take the fight through the summer.

RUDIN: Well, two things. First of all, only the Clinton campaign feels that she has won the popular vote. She is including the votes in Michigan and Florida, and of course, Barack Obama was not on the ballot in Michigan. She is not including those caucus states - several caucus states that Barack Obama won where they did not count raw votes. So only Harold Ickes, Hillary Clinton and a few others think that she really won the popular vote.

But having said that, she has won some primaries at the end and she's won them big. She won Puerto Rico. She won West Virginia. She won Kentucky. She has shown a strength with white collar - I'm sorry, blue collar voters, lower income voters, female voters and certainly many white voters who have shown a reluctance, in later part of the primaries, to vote for Barack Obama.

So Barack Obama, by all accounts, will be the nominee, perhaps as early as this week. But Hillary Clinton's victories in these late primaries has shown a weakness in Barack Obama...

MARTIN: What's he doing - what's his campaign doing to counteract her narrative?

RUDIN: Well, what's he's doing, for example, he's campaigning now in Michigan where he didn't get a chance to campaign back in January. He's campaigning in Florida. He's appealing to the independents. He's appealing to women, and obviously, he wants Hillary Clinton on board because we still saw a lot of raw emotion in Saturday's meeting. A lot of women said there's no way they'll vote for Obama. They'll vote for John McCain if they have to. They'll write in Hillary Clinton's name if they have to. They'll stay home if they have to.

MARTIN: You mean some women, because he's got a lot of women supporters...

RUDIN: Of course.

MARTIN: It has to be said.

RUDIN: Of course. But I'm saying the Hillary people who were at this committee, they seemed very, very betrayed and obviously, he has a long - you know, he has a lot of work to do. If you look at exit polls, close to 50 percent of some of the Hillary Clinton supporters say there's no way they would vote for Obama in the fall. I think that's of course a poll taken in the middle of the heat of the battle and that may not be the case in November. But it's something for the Obama campaign to worry about.

MARTIN: And one more thing that the Obama campaign may or may not need to worry about is that on Friday the senator and his wife officially resigned their membership from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. This is after a guest preacher, Father Michael Phleger, a Chicago Roman Catholic priest to - made some remarks which were then captured on YouTube and were deemed to be sort of mocking of Senator Clinton.

Now did - is this story - is this just one of these kind of nagging brush fires that's going to continue to dog him throughout the campaign? Or do you feel - is this story still resonating or is this kind of a media preoccupation?

RUDIN: Well, Trinity Church is really a metaphor for will happen to Barack Obama. It's a combination of Jeremiah Right. It's a combination of the bitterness comments he made in Pennsylvania, and it's of course - Pastor Phleger last week when he talked about, you know, mocking Hillary Clinton's crying and things like that and white entitlement. I think, obviously, that's one of the reasons Barack Obama had to resign from Trinity.

Everybody's been talking about it. A lot of women who came out of the meeting at the DNC said, well, here's another thing that's wrong. Here's another thing we didn't know about Barack Obama. Now Barack Obama didn't endorse Phleger, but obviously, it's something that hurt him. He's got to deal with that.

MARTIN: All right. Ken Rudin is NPR's political editor. He writes the Political Junkie column for npr.org. Thanks again, Ken.

RUDIN: Thanks, Michel.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: Just ahead, 20 years later, one woman realized she still had not recovered from rape.

Ms. JOANNA CONNORS (Reporter, Cleveland Plain Dealer): I realized that I had not buried this. That is was not dead. That it was still growing inside me and had been growing and that I had never dealt with it. And part of dealing with rape is overcoming that silence.

MARTIN: So she set out to find everything she could about her attacker. That story is next on Tell Me More from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.

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