Clinton backs Michigan revote plan

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton Saturday said she supported an effort by Michigan Democrats to hold a new primary in June.

Under a plan being finalized by several Democratic members of Congress and other party leaders in Michigan, the state would hold a new primary in early June — most likely on June 3 — that would allow its delegates to be seated at the party’s national convention this summer in Denver. The state Legislature is expected to take up the matter next week.

The Democratic National Committee punished Michigan and Florida for moving up their primaries before Feb. 5, stripping them of all their delegates. The two states have been struggling to come up with alternative plans, but Michigan appears closer to resolving the matter.

Clinton won the Michigan primary on Jan. 15 and has said she would like those results to stand. But Obama removed his name from the ballot after the DNC stripped the state of delegates for moving up its primary and did not campaign there.

Clinton also won Florida‘s primary on Jan. 29, where both candidates names were on the ballot but neither campaigned in the state at the request of the DNC.

“I feel really strongly about it,” Clinton said. “The 2.5 million people (in Michigan and Florida) who voted deserve to be counted. If it were my preference, we’d count their votes but if not, then they should have the opportunity to have a full-fledged primary waged for them and revote.”

Obama currently leads Clinton among overall delegates, 1603 to 1497, and his campaign has been openly skeptical of Clinton‘s eagerness to seat the delegations from the two disputed states. Spokesman Tommy Vietor Saturday said the campaign was open to a “fair and practical” resolution of the conflict.

“Hillary Clinton said in October the Michigan primary would not ‘count for anything.’ Now she is trying to change the rules and claim the votes of the primary she said didn’t count should be counted,” Vietor said. Clinton marched in two St. Patrick’s Day parades Saturday in Pittsburgh and Scranton. In Pittsburgh, she walked the mile-long parade route alongside the city’s mayor, Luke Ravenstahl; Gov. Ed Rendell, and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato. Dozens of supporters waving “Hillary 08” shamrocks and green “Clinton Country” signs led the crowd in rousing cheers.

“Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Pittsburgh. This is a great parade,” Clinton shouted into a microphone near the end of the parade. Pennsylvania holds its primary April 22, the next big prize in the nomination race between Clinton and Obama.

Also Saturday, the former first lady said her primary wins in big states like Ohio showed she would be a stronger candidate in the general election against Republican John McCain. Clinton has won just 17 contests compared to 29 for Obama, but her campaign has said many of the states Obama won would not be competitive for Democrats in November.

“I think it is significant that I won Ohio, that I won Florida, I’ve won the big states that serve as anchors on the electoral map. Clinton refused to comment on new information about Obama’s relationship with Antoin Rezko, a former political patron on trial for felony fraud charges. In interviews with two Chicago newspapers published Saturday, the Illinois senator disclosed he had accepted $250,000 in campaign donations from Rezko — about $100,000 more than had previously been disclosed.

But on a conference call with reporters, Clinton senior strategist Mark Penn said the new information pointed to a “troubling pattern” of obfuscation.

Obama “has talked about the politics of hope, but he has throughout this campaign launched a series of personal attacks on Senator Clinton, calling her disingenuous,” Penn said.

Obama “has talked about the politics of hope, but he has throughout this campaign launched a series of personal attacks on Senator Clinton, calling her disingenuous,” Penn said. “We think now the real question before us is to Senator Obama, is, ‘Will you make full disclosure of all this information related to the Rezko matter? Will you put to rest all these troubling questions?'”



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