FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
Just when you thought it was over, the Democratic circus continues. Saturday's Democratic National Committee Meeting ruled that the contested delegates of Michigan and Florida would be split between the two candidates. Plus Hillary Clinton wins the Puerto Rico primary, getting twice as many votes as Barack Obama. To make sense of this weekend's political events, we have our regular political contributor, Donna Brazile. She is a Democratic strategist and a nationally syndicated columnist. Great to have you on today.
Ms. DONNA BRAZILE (Democratic Strategist): It is wonderful to talk to you.
CHIDEYA: OK, Donna, you are an uncommitted superdelegate, and a member of the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee. So this weekend, you guys met to decide the delegate situation with Michigan and Florida, we are going to get to what you decided in a second, but it looks like it was a little bit of a zoo.
Ms. BRAZILE: No it was not. We deliberated privately on Friday night to look at what some of our options were. Clearly, we had strong supporters from both the Clinton campaign, as well as the Obama campaign. At the end of the day, we did straw polls, just to get a sense of where everything stood. And there was three crucial votes. Of course the vote to overturn our initial ruling, which penalized the two states for defying the rules. And we thought it was very important to be fair to the process, and the integrity of the process, since we are at the end of a process. And two other votes, of course, once we decided that our sanctions would remain in place.
We decided that the best way to look at the challenges, of course, was to see how we could fairly deal with the situation in light of the fact that we have two candidates and they are still competing for the nomination.
The Florida situation was quite easy, when you think about what was at stake. And the reason why I say that is because Senator Obama's name, along with Senator Clinton's name appeared on the ballot. And we took the recommendation from the Florida Democratic Party to give each of the delegates a half vote. Once we secured the votes for that, and you saw it was almost unanimous, we proceeded to Michigan. Well, let me just say we did not have a resolution on Michigan and it took us a whole day of hearings to listen to the Michigan challenge, to listen to both the Clinton campaign as well as the Obama campaign. And neither proposal - the Clinton proposal did not have the sufficient votes, The Obama proposal was tied. I did not wish to break a tie, that would leave us with a 14-13 vote. So we went to the Michigan proposal, which had the backing of both the Clinton campaign as well as the Obama campaign, and that was the compromise.
Now had we approved the Clinton plan as is, she would he netted nine delegates. Had we approved the Obama plan, he would have - it would have been a wash, because it would have been 50-50. We came up with something in between and she netted a plus-5. Over the weekend, she was close to 22, 24, and he had to take a hit in both places. I think we came up with a win-win for both campaigns because we backed the Michigan plan. It wasn't the Clinton plan, it wasn't the Obama plan and despite the, you know, the theatrics in the room with passionate supporters from both sides, we really came out of our deliberations very unified.
CHIDEYA: So just give me the numbers. Who's got how many delegates?
Ms. BRAZILE: Well as of today, Senator Obama is the new number, the new metric to look at. Without getting into who has what numbers, it's 2,118. We added 92 more delegates that some were awarded, some are still up for grabs, because there are superdelegates involved as well as pledged delegates In order to clinch the nomination, you need 2,128. Senator Clinton needs about 203, Senator Obama needs about 45.
There are 31 delegates remaining at stake tomorrow in the two remaining primaries in South Dakota and Montana. And sometime, we hope, within the next 48 to 72 hours, one of the candidates will achieve the magical number. There are about 200 superdelegates that are uncommitted, undeclared, but I hesitate to believe that they are undecided. They may have some other political reasons for not wanting to come forward, but let's see what happens tomorrow night and then we'll talk on Wednesday to get the verdict.
CHIDEYA: We're going to have to go to a break in as second, but do you feel like this is a victory, just quickly?
Ms. BRAZILE: Yes as a (unintelligible) it was a victory.
CHIDEYA: All right, Donna, I just want you to stay with us. We are talking to Donna Brazile who is an undeclared superdelegate and also was on the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee that met this weekend in order to decide exactly how people would be seated in Michigan and Florida. We're going to be back with her in a second.
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CHIDEYA: This is News and Notes. I'm Farai Chideya. We have got Donna Brazile, our regular political commentator who's going to keep talking to us about what's been going on with the Democratic Party. She is a Democratic strategist and a nationally syndicated columnist. Welcome back, and Donna, let me go straight to a little bit of one of the candidate's words. Senator Clinton lacks the delegates she needs to win the nomination, yet she says she's ahead in the popular vote. Here's what she said after winning the primary in Puerto Rico.
Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): We are winning the popular vote. Now there can be no doubt. The people have spoken and you have chosen your candidate.
CHIDEYA: So if she actually has won more of the popular vote, is this going to undermine Senator Obama's lead in the delegate count?
Ms. BRAZILE: No, ma'am, it will not. Here's why. First of all, the metric that everyone should focus on is who has the lead in the delegate vote. This is not about who is leading in the popular vote, or who won the most states. Which state carried more electoral weight. Our rules - this is a nominating contest, not a beauty contest. And so the rules stipulate that you have to win the most delegates. Now can Senator Clinton sue her argument that she won the most popular vote - and I'll put an asterisk behind winning the most popular vote, because here's why I believe a victory was achieved on Saturday.
Senator Obama abided by the rules, and we said that Michigan and Florida would not count. He did not campaign in those states, although some argue that he ran advertisements, national advertisements, which, if you live in certain parts of the country, you're running in Mississippi, you hear it in Louisiana. You're running in California, you hear it in Nevada. He ran national advertisements and people in Florida may have seen it on CNN, MSNBC and whatever networks he ran it on. But the truth is, neither campaign, neither candidate, ran campaigns in those two states.
So Senator Clinton, by virtue of the fact that we now have sanctioned those two contests, which as I said on Saturday that constitutes cheating when 48 states and the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions abide by the rule. We reopened the rules and changed the rules of the game at the end of the process. That's called cheating. But we did it because we wanted to achieve party unity. But now Senator Clinton is using the results of those two states to add to her total and popular vote. But they are now denying Senator Obama the opportunity to add any of the uncommitted, because we don't know exactly how they voted, all the write-ins because we don't know how they voted, because they are not tabulated. And they are not adding the people who actually went to the caucuses in five crucial states.
So these are arguments that people use for their talking points. But they are not arguments that should be used in anyway to convey that Senator Obama, if he's the nominee, is somehow or another illegitimate. He's not. If he wins the most delegates he is the nominee. If Senator Clinton wins the most delegates, she is the nominee.
And look, we have two great candidates. I've never been more excited in my life. As a woman who has worked all her adult life in politics, and as a minority who had to fight to get in the door, I've never been so proud of my party and what we've achieved as a country and seeing these two candidates compete for the nomination. Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 3rd, five months from when this process started in January, our nominating contest will come to an end and someone will lead in delegates. And that's the only metric that matters.
CHIDEYA: Donna, you said yesterday on CNN that you would finally break your silence and go ahead and announce who you were pledging your superdelegate support to on Wednesday. So you are going to be back on our show on Wednesday. Can you give us the first scoop on who you're going to pick?
Ms. BRAZILE: Well you know, I can not go to bed on election nights until about three or four in the morning. And this has been, as you can imagine, one of the most difficult - as much excitement as I have for both candidates, I have to make a decision. I'm a superdelegate. The power invested in me as a superdelegate of course is to declare or to stay undeclared.
I prefer to declare for the simple reason that I would like to bring this nominating process to an end so that we as a party, as a country, can begin to repair what I call the cracks in our foundation from a very exciting political process. And look, I've been in winning campaigns, I've been in losing campaigns. I've been in campaigns where we thought we didn't have no shot and we became the big shots. And I want to be able to help the nominee, whoever he or she is, begin the healing process starting this week.
CHIDEYA: All right, well we look forward to having you on Wednesday, and we really want to know exactly what's going to happen. So save us some good stuff. Thanks, Donna.
BRAZILE: This is like a gumbo, I'll hold off my best ingredients until I talk to you again.
CHIDEYA: All right.
Ms. BRAZILE: God bless you. Thank you.
CHIDEYA: You too. Thanks Donna. That was Donna Brazile, our regular contributor. She was on the Democratic National Committee's rules - National Commission's Rules and Bylaws committee and she's going to be back on Wednesday to tell us who her pick is.
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