March 21, 2008 in Nation/World

Michigan drops effort to schedule revote

Jonathan Weisman Washington Post
 

WASHINGTON – The effort to schedule a June revote for the Michigan Democratic primary collapsed Thursday, dealing a potentially serious blow to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the White House.

With Florida Democrats already all but giving up on a new contest, the Michigan state Senate’s decision to adjourn Thursday without acting on a new primary left in limbo a Clinton strategy that relied on a string of victories in the remaining contests, to be capped by victories in the Michigan and Florida revotes, to help her gain ground in both the pledged-delegate and popular-vote totals against Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Clinton aides express the hope that a late surge in both categories will help convince the party insiders known as superdelegates that she has the best chance to beat Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, in November.

Without the Michigan and Florida delegates, Clinton’s odds grow longer. Both states had defied the Democratic National Committee by moving their primary dates forward and were stripped of their delegates in January.

“We will turn our attention to other options,” said Michigan Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Clinton supporter who expressed deep disappointment. “There is no road to the White House that does not go through Michigan.”

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said, “We are for a resolution that gives Florida and Michigan representation at the convention (and) is fair and reasonable,” suggesting that seating the delegates from both states in an even split between the two candidates would be the most acceptable outcome.

The Clinton campaign took the opportunity to slam Obama. “When it comes to the Michigan and Florida primaries, Senator Obama seems to only be capable of saying no: No to honoring the January elections, no to holding a new primary vote, no to a vote by mail,” spokesman Phil Singer said in a statement. “It is unacceptable to disenfranchise the voters who participated in January, and if Senator Obama allows that to happen, there will be implications for Democrats in the general election.”

Working to move past a racially charged controversy over comments from his former pastor that have dogged his campaign for the past week, Obama barnstormed through West Virginia on Thursday, pivoting back to pocketbook concerns. He also made an open appeal to the white working-class voters who have been the mainstay of Clinton’s coalition, talking basketball and eating chicken wings in a Charleston sports bar.

“I’m fishing for a few votes around here. At least, I can show off my basketball knowledge,” Obama told the customers who had gathered to watch the NCAA tournament’s opening games at Murads’ on 35th Street.

Clinton, campaigning across Indiana on Thursday, made the economy her focus even as the political news out of Michigan did not appear to be going her way. She proposed what she called a “second stimulus package” that would provide $30 billion over two years to states and localities grappling with the housing foreclosure crisis.

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