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Barack Obama backs full voting rights for Michigan and Florida (finally)

August 3, 2008 |  3:40 pm

Now that he's just over three weeks away from formal acceptance of the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama has come around to a position long advocated by his erstwhile rival, Hillary Clinton: Michigan and Florida should have full voting representation at the party's national convention in Denver.

You'll recall that the Democrats had initially said the presidential primary results in Florida and Michigan would not be counted and those delegates would not be seated, since the two states had ignored the party's carefully constructed primary schedule and set their voting day ahead of their assigned dates. That irked Clinton, who finished first in both primaries (Obama removed his name from the Michigan ballot, and no Democrats campaigned actively in either state). In May, demonstrators called for restoration of full voting rights for the Michigan and Florida delegations.

As the primary season progressed and Obama pulled ahead in the delegate count, Clinton urged that the Michigan and Florida delegations be seated at full strength -- for fairness, she emphasized (and also because receiving those delegates could give her enough votes to stage a credible floor fight in Denver). On May 31, though, the party's rules and bylaws committee backed a compromise proposed by the Obama campaign, agreeing to seat the delegations but giving each delegate only half a vote. Three days later, on the final day of the primary season, the Illinois senator clinched the nomination.

Obama recently wrote the convention's credentials committee about the two delegations, and today the committee issued this reply:

"Today we received a letter from Senator Obama requesting that the Convention's Credentials Committee grant each delegate from Florida and Michigan a full vote. We deeply appreciate and value Senator Obama's perspective on this important issue. This matter will be the top priority for the Credentials Committee when we meet on August 24th. As always our goal is to ensure a fair process and a unified Democratic Party so that we can win in November."

Hmm. Wonder what they'll decide.

-- Leslie Hoffecker

Photo: Demonstrators outside the May 31 meeting of the Democrats' rules and bylaws committee; credit: Mannie Garcia/Bloomberg News