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Further Coverage of Delegate Hearing by DNCX Rules Committee

Aired May 31, 2008 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go back to hands that we promised first in this round. I'm going to start with Liz Smith.
ELIZABETH SMITH, DC, CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Thank you. Actually, my question was aimed at Senator Levin but I just want to say welcome, Dave, it's great to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice to be with you, Liz.

SMITH: Maybe I will ask you a question. I'm really concerned, I mean we call Michigan a flawed primary, I assume that's because there were no three or four of the major candidates were not on the ballot. And yet, as a member of this rules committee, that's not one of our requirements. It's not a requirement of the party that they withhold their name from the ballot. And I've just -- I wish you could help us. Because I've asked this question over and over again. I've asked Mark. Help me to understand why somebody wouldn't, a candidate, a major candidate whose running a brilliant campaign, would decide to withhold his name from the ballot? I live in the District of Columbia, we have primaries that don't count because we have a different delegate selection process. But people go and vote in those primaries because they want to express their preference. We don't think, I mean at least I don't think I know that there's a delegate selection process coming up. But most people here don't. They just want to go and express their preference for the guy or woman that they are endorsing. And I -- for him, for your candidate, Senator Edwards and Senator Biden and Governor Richardson to make this distinction to say I'm just not going to go on the ballot, I'm not going to authorize write-in votes for me. I'm just puzzled by it and I'm deeply, deeply saddened that I consider myself a strong democrat and someone just who is a believer in the democratic process that the voter is the final decision. Even when I disagree with them as I have quite often. And I know you have all you smart guys and Debbie, I don't want to leave out Debbie, smart women, as brilliant as you are to come up with these different ways of deciding what the voters may have done if for whatever reasons you decide, exit polls, as we say, thank you President Kerry would be finishing his first term here if we believed in exit polls. What was in the mind of the voters? We have a lot of flawed processes. The caucus is a flawed process. It's not -- it's not as easy to go to a caucus. And I am just deeply troubled that the Democratic Party, even in this small staff or even for the -- for keeping a party unified is thinking of overriding the actual outcome of a vote.

DAVID BONIOR, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, first of all, let me thank you for all your years of hard work for the party. It has been great working with you for many, many years on justice issues and fairness issues as well. And in that context I appreciate your comments and you have every credential to ask it. Let me answer it this way. Number one, first of all, let's really be very, very clear here that there was no -- we were following basically the path that was set by this committee, that this would not count. That the votes and the delegate selection for Michigan would not count. So as Senator Edwards campaign manager, that was one piece we had to consider and I'm sure the Obama campaign thought of that as well and Senator Clinton, of course, as I've said in my testimony, enunciated that publicly right before the election that they wouldn't count. So number one, doesn't count. Secondly, there was no campaigning in the state under the agreement that all of the candidates, including Senator Clinton had agreed to with the four earlier states. So those were really compelling factors. And if you don't have -- and then the third piece I guess I would add as well here is that there was always an opportunity and a chance later on for perhaps Michigan to go back to the February 9th caucus or date that they had originally had and we obviously wouldn't be here talking about this if that would have been the case. But that didn't happen as well. And then of course the spring date didn't happen for a variety of reasons that I alluded to in my testimony. So there were many problems at different junctures in this process. But if you couldn't campaign, if people didn't have their names on the ballot, it just seems to me that it's going to be very difficult to include this process as a fair one in a portion based upon the vote that was cast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Mame Reiley.

MAME REILEY, VA., CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Congressman, I'm troubled by the whole Michigan situation. It's different to me than Florida. And I look at the way the vote came out and I can be convinced to revisit the 50 percent seating of delegates. My concern is the allocation. And I do really worry about this body making a determination. And it's my thought, maybe I'm wrong, that if Senator Clinton got the percentage that she got in the vote and the uncommitted vote were to decide at the convention, I have no doubt that that uncommitted vote would go solidly for Senator Obama. And I worry that we're getting so caught up in the division of those delegates, which is my main concern here, that I think we should honor the integrity of the vote and the voters. And so I'm a believer that -- and I speak only for myself here. If I knew then what I know today, would I have voted as a member of the rules committee the way I did? I have to honestly say I probably would not. Again I speak only for myself. I want to be fair. I want to do the right thing. Quite frankly, I'm not sure what the right thing is to do. But I do believe in honoring the vote. And it is flawed for every reason that you and Senator Levin mentioned. I have total confidence that that uncommitted vote will go for Senator Obama. And so my feeling is, I can be persuaded to recognize 50 percent. I'd have to be convinced about the 100 percent. But I do think we have to respect the integrity of the vote and the integrity of the voters, most importantly.

BONIOR: Well, as I said in my testimony, I think it's important to respect the integrity of the voter. Very much so. Those 600,000- plus. But I also think it's important to respect the integrity of those who did not vote or voted for their second choice because their first choice wasn't on the ballot. Or maybe decided to because we have an open primary in Michigan to vote in the republican primary for whatever purposes. They have to be respected as well. I think that tells us something in terms of where we ought to be in terms of this split. My sense, the fair way to do this is what I have advocated as a half and half.

BLITZER: All right, David Bonior making the case that the 128 delegates in Michigan should be equally divided, 64-64 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. We'll continue our coverage. Cnnpolitics.com is where you can see these hearings uninterrupted. We'll continue with the Q&A, then we'll hear from Hillary Clinton's supporter before this DNC meeting. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The continuing hearing over at the DNC rules committee. David Bonior speaking right now, answering questions from members of the rules and bylaws committee. The former congressman supports Barack Obama. He's making the case that the delegates from the state of Michigan should be seated at the convention even though they moved up the primary against party rules. He says they should be seated evenly, 64 for Clinton, 64 for Obama, the 128 pledged delegates. He says all of the superdelegates should be seated as well. Let's continue to listen in on this hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- clarification. I don't know, congressman, let me just start by saying thank you. It's good to see you again.

BONIOR: Nice to see you, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that Senator Levin said that the 69-59, which is proposed in the Michigan plan was used at the district level for slating, is that correct? My understanding was that it was the 73- 55 that was based on a January primary? I'm sorry. Mark said he could answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mark can help you right there.

MARK BREWER, MICHIGAN DEM. PARTY CHMN.: We used the 73 55 but we did it in a way that can accommodate the 69-59 formula, i.e., we strongly encouraged and worked very hard to ensure that the uncommitted delegates who are elected would vote for Senator Obama. We can further accommodate the formula we've proposed when we elect our statewide delegates in a couple of weeks at (INAUDIBLE) central.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. So I just want to make sure I understand. The January primary has been acknowledged and used in your slating. So the other point that I want to make because this has been laid on the table, is this concept of 50/50. And in our discussions about their reflection, there has been a lot of -- several people have commented about how it affects rules and our charter and goes to the heart of our party's rules of fair reflection. I'm going to tell you what it goes to the heart of for me is the people who go into a vote, vote for a candidate and expect that that vote is going to be respected. And what is being proposed here, is that you go into a voting booth, what is being proposed here is that you go into a voting booth and at some point later down the road, someone can decide that your vote goes for someone else. If we're going to do that, let's cancel 2012, let's sit in this room right now and divide all the delegates in every state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless there's a point of information to raise for clarification, I do have Mr. Fowler, Mr. Ickes in terms of the next round in terms of hands that have been up. So we need to move to the next speaker unless there's a point of information Mr. Dawson?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is a point of information. Can we move this process ahead with questions.

Yes.

Rather than comments.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely agree. Point of clarification, information, Mr. Shay?

GARRY SHAY, CALIF., CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Yes. Good afternoon, congressman, my game is Garry Shay, I'm chair of the rules committee of the California Democratic Party. I'm inclined to support restoring 50 (INAUDIBELE) due to the violation of the timing rules, however Senator Levin stated that both the Clinton and Obama campaigns supported seating the Michigan delegation in full. I would like to confirm with you if that's a correct statement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well we support seating the delegations in full. Vote, that is a decision this committee will have to make and of course your rules, as I understand your rules requires a 50 percent reduction vis a vie (INAUDIBLE) that I read. A decision this committee will have to make.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very, very much Congressman Bonior for being with us.

BONIOR: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for your word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we turn to the campaign of Senator Clinton to make their presentation and we are very happy to welcome former great governor of Michigan, Jim Blanchard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you Mr. Chairman and madam secretary chairman. To all the members. I'm reminded watching this and listening of the old Will Rogers adage which is I belong to no organized party, I'm a democrat. I actually think today's proceedings have been orderly and fair and on behalf of myself, the Hillary Clinton campaign, also our sitting governor Jennifer Granthad home I want to thank you for hearing us out and hearing the case of Michigan. I also want to associate myself Levin. I generally agree with his scenario and description and his passion for making sure that Michigan and other states play a role in the democratic nominating process. I also want to take a point of personal privilege and say that you're looking at someone who was raised by a single parent mom who never had anyone in my family with power, money or position. And if somebody had told me I would someday become a member of congress and later governor of my state and then ambassador to Canada, I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven. I will also tell you that I leave here today to fly back to Michigan to celebrate my mother's 98th birthday tomorrow and her first vote was in 1932 for your grandpa Jim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're still grateful.

JIM BLANCHARD, FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: So is the world. On behalf of Senator Clinton and Governor Granthom and I think most of us in Michigan, we strongly urge you to make Michigan count. No democrat has been elected president of the United States for the last 60 years without carrying Michigan with one exception, Jimmy Carter against native son Gerald Ford. Our elections have been close, I might add. Last time John Kerry carried our state by 3 percent. But we have been reliably democratic. In contrast to many of the other states and caucuses that have been held earlier this year. We say you must not turn your back on our loyal state and our 600,000 voters. And I might also add that's more voters in Michigan on January 15th than voted in Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. That's more votes than in our firehouse primary four years earlier, almost four times more (INAUDIBLE) - process in 2004. Let me also say that if Senator Barack Obama (INAUDIBLE) I will campaign vigorously for him from one end of the state to the other. I have also heard Hillary Clinton say in private company that if Senator Barack Obama is the nominee, she will campaign her heart out for him. But we need a nominee of 50 states, not 48 and territories. So the issue really is how do we honor the voters of Michigan? And I know you're grappling with this. I'm glad I'm not on the rules committee. I don't know if we'll ever get people to serve on it again. Probably with all this exposure, Mr. Chairman and madam chairman, we will. But let's look at the facts here regarding Michigan. You've heard some of it and I'm going to try to abbreviate my remarks so we can have questions and then we can all have lunch. Thank you.

Look, a law was enacted, a bipartisan law, Michigan democratic house, Michigan republican senate signed by our governor to create a primary on January 15th. Hillary Clinton took no position on whether it should be a primary or a caucus or what the date would be. The primary was held. 600,000 people voted. Of the eight democratic candidates, four voluntarily took their name off the ballot. They signed affidavits. I have several here. It was a knowing, willing decision. It doesn't make the election flawed, it meant, in my opinion, they had a flawed strategy. I really wish they had kept their names on the ballot. Four candidates did leave their names on the ballot, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Mike Grabel and Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich actually campaigned in Michigan. But the bottom line is neither the DNC rules nor Michigan law nor the pledge they all signed not to campaign required these candidates to take their name off the ballot. By the way, I heard references to quotes of Senator Clinton saying we all know Michigan won't count. Apparently that was on New Hampshire public radio, but I must tell you, I never saw that on TV in Michigan until well after, well after the Michigan primary. I don't think people were told that Michigan votes would not count. I think what happened was they were very disappointed all the candidates weren't on the ballot. So some of the people who voted uncommitted, clearly would have voted for Senator Obama or Bill Richardson or John Edwards, but some of them also voted uncommitted because they were mad at the process and they didn't know who to blame.

It happened. There was, by the way, an organized vigorous uncommitted campaign. There was indeed local media urging people to vote uncommitted. Mark Brewer fairly said and Carl Levin also did that when people ask what they do regarding the candidates not on the ballot, they were publicly urged to vote uncommitted. Senator Obama and Senator Edwards and Governor Richardson actually had joint handbills handed out all over the city of Detroit and the suburbs. So the election was held. Hillary Clinton received 55 percent of the vote, uncommitted 40, remainder 5. The delegates got allocated based on that to the numbers would be 73 for Hillary Clinton and 55 uncommitted. And yes, as Carl Levin mentioned, that's what we would like our delegates seated on that ratio with a full vote and now so they can play a role. We had district conventions, it was alluded to earlier, those were apportioned on the basis of 73-55. We've actually elected, including myself, 47 Clinton delegates and 36 uncommitted and I will tell you that most of the uncommitted are for Barack Obama. In fact, we made sure that Clinton campaign that we did not interfere with the uncommitted caucuses at those conventions. So now, in summary, I do want to allow plenty of time for questions. You know, our position is you've got to honor the 600,000 voters in Michigan. They need to be honored. They need to be respected and they need to be counted. And yes, our delegates should fairly reflect --

BLITZER: All right, the former Governor Jim Blanchard of Michigan making the case for Hillary Clinton's campaign saying those 128 pledged delegates in Michigan should be divided up 73 for Hillary Clinton and 55 for Barack Obama. The Obama campaign you just heard a little while ago David Bonior said they should be equally divided 64- 64. We'll continue our coverage. Remember, cnnpolitics.com is where you can see all of this unravel without interruption. We'll go to the Q&A for the Clinton supporter Governor Blanchard right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. The questions are about to start for former Governor of Michigan, Jim Blanchard. He represents the Clinton campaign. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder, do you support the Michigan Democratic Party proposal?

BLANCHARD: The Clinton campaign does not support the Michigan Democratic Party proposal. We support the allocation of delegates based on the January 15th primary, which would be 73-55. Speaking as Jim Blanchard, I would tell you that I agree with Carl Levin's description of the difficulty in the work that they, the four leaders went through to get a consensus on executive committee of the Michigan Democratic Party. I think he characterized that accurately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you do not agree with his description of the primary as being flawed.

BLANCHARD: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the description of the state chair of the primaries being flawed?

BLANCHARD: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think it was an effective primary which truly reflects the preference of the voters of Michigan?

BLANCHARD: Well, I think it reflected the voters at that time. Because I think, again, most of the uncommitted were for Obama and Edwards and some for Richardson. But I wouldn't call it flawed, I think that's an unfair use of the word of a primary that our leaders helped establish.

(APPLAUSE)

BLANCHARD: I think a mistake was made that the law wasn't identical to Florida, which says no one could remove their name. I think that was a mistake. They should not have allowed people to remove their name.

But you know, bear in mind, Mr. Hynes, 600,000 people voted, that's almost four times what we had in 2004. $10 million was spent, 5,000 polling places were open. What we had, unfortunately, was not all the candidates on the ballot, as I said. I think to some degree, they had a flawed strategy. They could have left their name on the ballot and not campaigned.

Look, people were following this campaign. There were debates for months, I mean, like Florida, people followed this. This wasn't like well if the candidate doesn't show up, you don't have an idea. People had a pretty good idea and they wanted their voices heard.

(APPLAUSE)

THOMAS HYNES, ILL., OBAMA SUPERDELEGATE: Just to finish the first point. It seems to me that we don't have quite the unity in Michigan that Senator Levin thinks we have. Since you do not ...

BLANCHARD: Well, no, wait a minute, Senator Levin indicated that Congressman Bonior who I deeply respect and myself would take different positions from the Levin-Brewer position. He did not inaccurately reflect that.

HYNES: Let me ask you one other question, one other comment that you made was that the rules of the party should not be used in an inappropriate way. Do you think that the Democratic Party should have rules about timing? Do you think there should be rules? Do you think that we should have rules on timing so that there is an orderly process? Or do you think that those rules have outlived their usefulness and it ought to be like everyone goes when they want to go?

BLANCHARD: I tend to think that you need a schedule. I do think you've made a big mistake not rotating the schedule. I agree with Carl Levin. I mean, actually, if you look at what's happened -- Carl's argument and I think most of us agree with it in other states, other major states at least and probably a lot of small states. His argument is you shouldn't let Iowa and New Hampshire have a lock on the nomination.

And the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, if you look back, you're going to see that right now, Iowa and New Hampshire have made the nominations. There's three remaining candidates: McCain, Senator Clinton, Senator Obama. Iowa and New Hampshire basically determined that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have long list of questioners.

BLANCHARD: By the way, I love going to New Hampshire primary and campaigning, it's the world's greatest political theme park. I want the New Hampshiriites to know that.

HYNES: Well, I'm glad -- I'm glad though that you think we should have some rules.

BLANCHARD: Of course.

HYNES: Even though you think the rules are not in good effect.

(APPLAUSE)

BLANCHARD: Yes, I agree we should have rules, but I don't think you should have rules that disenfranchise voters.

HYNES: I strongly disagree that these rules do disenfranchise voters. I think these rules are reasonable, they are fair, they are the product of years of study.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will debate this after lunch.

HYNES: I could not let a comment like that go unanswered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently, Sharon Stroschein.

SHARON STROSCHEIN, S.D. OBAMA SUPERDELEGATE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm sitting here, I am probably the only member of this board who has yet to hold their primary. We are South Dakota and Montana. And I think we did a real disservice in not letting you know how glamorous it is to be at the end of the primary season.

We have the Clinton family there every day, we have Mr. Obama in today and again tomorrow. And so, we are getting all of the razzmatazz. And we would invite Florida and Michigan to think about our end of the primary in 2012.

BLANCHARD: As a Minnesota law school graduate, I couldn't agree with you more. And I know Tom Daschle concurs.

STROSCHEIN: Yes, he does. We are at the end, and -- but we have had all the bells and whistles that you have mentioned that both states missed and that's very unfortunate. So perhaps if I ask the question, if you had it to do over again, would we be going through this?

BLANCHARD: Well, first of all ...

(APPLAUSE)

BLANCHARD: ...No. 1, as I mentioned, Hillary Clinton took no position on whether Michigan should have a primary or a caucus or when. That was decided by our legislature, some of our party leaders who are here, and the governor. I think in hindsight, what I would have suggested is they not allow candidates to remove their name from the ballot. I think that that, they should not have allowed that. But as far as Michigan going early, you know, I tend to agree with Carl Levin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next question is from Don Fowler.

DONALD FOWLER, S.C., CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Question that Tom Hynes raised and that has been raised by Senator Levin, Congressman Bonior as well as you, Governor Richardson and also Mark Brewer and that is the flawed nature of the primary. Rule 20-C 1-A provides that if a state violates the timing regulations, that certain consequences will follow.

Michigan violated those rules, the consequence followed. I want anybody in here including the staff to name for me one other rule or regulation of this party that was not complied with entirely and fully by the Michigan Democratic Party.

There were features of this primary, political features of this primary that people didn't like. This primary was fully legitimate in terms of its compliance with the rules of this party. So, I think that throwing the insult, if you will, at the Michigan primary that it was flawed, I think, Governor, is not appropriate.

I have one other thing.

(APPLAUSE)

FOWLER: And I would like to hear the governor's comment, but I have one other item I want to mention if I may very quickly. Everybody from Michigan, I think, who has made a presentation, Chairman Brewer, Senator Levin, Congressman Bonior and you Governor Blanchard has suggested some allocation of the delegates contrary to how the vote was cast.

Now, I'll be very strict, very simple and quick about this. To do that is directly in contradiction, violation of specific provision of the charter of the Democratic Party. And I don't see how we can do that any more than the Supreme Court could overturn the result of a Senate race in Texas.

And I just think that's absolutely literally clear from section 4 of article 2 of the charter. And those who are proposing some other allocation other on that what was reflected in the vote, I think you have a mountain to climb in trying to get around that provision in section 4 of article 2.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor?

BLANCHARD: Yes, well, our position is that the delegates should be allocated according to the primary. Seventy-three delegates for Senator Clinton, 55 uncommitted. As a practical matter, it is probably fair to say that almost all, if not all, the uncommitted will be delegates for Senator Barack Obama. And who knows by August, some may be switching back and forth, you never know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allan Katz?

BLANCHARD: I was referring to superdelegates on that one.

ALLAN KATZ, FLA., OBAMA SUPPORTER: Thank you for being here, Governor. And I had a couple of observations. First of all, it seems to me that people ask the question who decided that the votes in Michigan primary would not count towards selecting delegates? And of course the answer is us. We decided that. That's No. 1. We made that decision, OK?

And when we made that decision, we created a political dynamic in a race to which the candidates all said Michigan is not a place that we're going to play. Now, that's what happened and we've created that situation.

No. 2, I think it is a very fair question to say what are we going to do for the 600,000 people in Michigan who voted? What I'm going to do today at some point if we ever get to this point is to vote to give some of Michigan's delegates back and they will have representatives at the convention.

So, I think there are two separate and distinct questions. I think what we're saying is yes, I believe that the people who voted, they didn't do anything wrong, they were the ones who turned out. However, measuring and apportioning that -- No. 1, I disagree with Don. I agree with Senator Levin and I agree with Mark Brewer. This was a flawed primary for the reasons that we've already discussed. And therefore, to use it, therefore we have the ability to accept the fact that we are, as a committee are going to have Michigan represented at the convention.

But we are not going to do is we are not going to turn to those candidates who basically look to what we decided, followed the direction we gave, and then wind up coming back now and penalizing them for not participating in a process that we said ...

(APPLAUSE)

KATZ: And finally, Governor, I just have to say this, because I think, because when it comes up, it always gives me some concern because I think we always run the risk of trivializing horrendous events that occurred. What happened in Florida in 2000 is not equivalent to argue over how many delegates you select from Michigan.

(APPLAUSE)

KATZ: People in Florida, their votes were not counted. They were turned away from the polls and that election was stolen. Now, what you have here is a dispute over how we measure the people that voted. And I think that the sooner -- the more we stay away from focusing -- trying to make those kinds of parallels, the more productive we're going to be.

BLANCHARD: Well, first of all, I'm going to ...

(APPLAUSE)

BLANCHARD: ...the principle is to treat the right of voters the right to vote is sacred, sacred, all right. That's what's at stake here. You know, and I don't think it's minimizing it to worry about that. I will also say that this committee has a discretion to do whatever you're going to do. I intend, I hope to respect that. I assume I will and abide by it. But I also want to make the case that 600,000 people in Michigan should not be ignored. And the candidates who gave our state the courtesy and respect of leaving their name on the ballot should not be punished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martha Fuller Clark -- Martha.

MARTHA FULLER CLARK, N.H., OBAMA SUPERDELEGATE: I would like to state --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Microphone, please.

CLARK: I'm sorry.

I don't believe that the voters in Michigan who were told that this was a process that would not count should also be penalized for not voting. But I have another question and it's a concern that I've had from ever since we heard from Michigan about the issue of how they treated write-in votes. And the fact that by stating that if there was a write-in vote, it didn't count because there was no way for that write-in vote to be considered except as an uncommitted vote.

Yet, we had 30,000 people who cast write-in votes in Michigan that could not be considered. I think it's important that we acknowledge that, that we recognize that, and I would hope and perhaps you could comment for the future that that issue of not allowing write-in votes to be counted for the votes that were cast for a given individual should be reconsidered.

BLANCHARD: Yes, I agree with that. The one thing I would take exception to is that during the run-up to the January 15th primary, no one in Michigan, including the media, was saying the votes wouldn't count. As a matter of fact, Mark Brewer, the Michigan Democratic Party, Carl Levin, had numerous news conferences to urge people to vote. So did the news media. In fact, the news media had a whole education program urging people to vote uncommitted if they didn't like the limited ballot. So, there was a lot of attention and activity.

And as important as this committee is, I don't think people followed any of the details about your policies or resolutions as important as they are to our party and our nominee. But I do agree that there ought to be a way to do a write-in. In fact, that's what Mark Brewer and Carl Levin were saying. If you prefer another candidate, we don't allow write-ins, so please vote uncommitted and they did in great numbers. CLARK: I'd just like to comment, however, that 30,000 voters didn't get that message and they filed a write-in vote.

(APPLAUSE)

BLANCHARD: Well, and Miss Clark, if I had my druthers, we'd count them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donna Brazile.

DONNA BRAZILE, DC. UNDECLARED SUPERDELEGATE: Both Allan -- made comments that really go to the heart of what I wanted to talk about in terms of the way that we have used the word disenfranchisement. And I applaud you for what you've said because sitting here, knowing as much history about our country as well as our political parties and the history of disenfranchisement, I applaud you, Allan for saying that and also Martha for raising the intentions of the 30,000 people who wrote in.

Governor, I know you may not believe this process was flawed. And perhaps you believe it was fair and a fair reflection of the voters who showed up and had the ability to cast their preference. My question to you, sir, is a very important one, and that is given that the state executive committee comprised of representatives from all of the campaigns, including the two leading candidates remaining on the ballot, do you believe that the process that they came up with is fair? And a fair reflection of all those voters, those who not just participated in the contest but those who may have wrote in their preference as well?

BLANCHARD: It's a good question. The Clinton campaign had no official representatives and does not on that executive committee which came up with the formula. I agree with Carl Levin's characterization though, which it was an honest attempt by a lot of party leaders to figure out a compromise to bring about party unity and I should say that our governor supported that.

But I wasn't part of it. And our official position, as you know, is to have the delegation reflect 73-55, the 600,000 votes on January 15th.

BRAZILE: Are you aware ...

BLANCHARD: But I don't want to disparage the effort that they made, they made a very, very serious effort to figure out how to resolve this as they did to try to get a re-do primary.

BRAZILE: As we're trying to do here today and trying to come up with a political compromise. And I also want to pull (ph) on the record, because I think this gets to my personal feelings about sitting here today working with the two states who are appealing our ruling to be seated, which I will support the proposals to give them their voice. That later this afternoon, we'll have an opportunity to do that.

But I also want to put on the record because this goes to what my mama taught me. My mama, you mentioned your mother ... (LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: ...and if I was home doing what I normally do on Saturday, I would give you something to take home.

BLANCHARD: Good.

BRAZILE: But I'm not. But happy birthday to your mother.

BLANCHARD: Thank you.

BRAZILE: But my mama always taught me to play by the rules and to respect those rules. And my mother also taught me ...

(APPLAUSE)

BRAZILE: ...and my mother also taught me as I am sure your mother taught you because you are clearly a fine man and a public servant that I've admired for years that when you decide to change the rules, especially in the middle of the game, end of the game, that is referred to as cheating.

So, in that spirit, in the spirit of unity that we all come here today, we come here in the spirit of unity. We come here in the spirit, not because everything that we will do today will be reflected in our other rules that we have and there are people in this room that have written these rules since the beginning of time. And I'm sure we will change them before the end of time.

But we come in the spirit of unity because we come from a party that have worked for at least the last four decades, especially since Lyndon Johnson who said voting is the lifeblood of our democracy. He put his pen on a document that came about because people marched, and they died for this right to vote.

So, I just hope that as we talk about fairness and what's flawed and what's principle and what's reflecting the true intentions of the voters, that we also pay tribute to those who might have written in and those who may have not showed up because they didn't think their votes would matter that day. So, we reflect them all in our compromise. And I just wanted to put that on the record as well, sir (ph).

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Donna Brazile, a superdelegate, a member of the Rules Committee making her point that you've got to play by the rules. That's what her mama taught her and that's what she's lecturing the former governor of Michigan Jim Blanchard about right now. Jim Blanchard is a supporter of Hillary Clinton, making the Clinton campaign's case before the Rules Committee.

CNNpolitics.com is carrying these committee hearings live without interruption. You can go to CNNpolitics.com. We'll continue our coverage from the CNN "ELECTION CENTER" right after this.

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BLITZER: The Democratic Committee's Rules Committee is about to recess for lunch. It's a late lunch. They were running clearly behind schedule. It's approaching 3:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. They're going to take a break for lunch. And then, the hard work for these 30 members of the Rules Committee begins.

They've heard the respective cases from the representatives from Florida and Michigan make their cases that the delegates from those two states should be reinstated. They should be allowed to participate in the selection of the Democratic presidential nominee. We heard from both of the major campaigns left standing on the Democratic side, the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns. They made their respective cases, what should be done with the pledged and superdelegates from Florida as well as the pledged and superdelegates from Michigan.

No agreement yet. This will be a critical decision that the Rules Committee will now have to make over the next few hours. And they will resume their deliberations right after lunch. They will decide whether or not those delegates will be reinstated. Will all of the delegates have an equal voice? Or will some of those delegates be reinstated with only half a vote at the convention?

What it does mean is that the final number for the threshold, the number needed to get the Democratic presidential nominee domination will change if in fact they go ahead and reinstate in partial terms or completely the delegates from these two battleground states, Florida and Michigan.

They're now in recess. They will reconvene in about an hour and 15 minutes or so at 4:15 p.m. Eastern. The cameras will remain inside for that deliberation and we'll see what they decide. At stake, nothing short of whether or not this contest is going to end sooner rather than later.

And remember, if the Hillary Clinton campaign for example, is not satisfied with the decision of the Rules Committee, they can appeal it to the Credentials Committee, which will be meeting in July and this presumably, at least theoretically, could go all the way to the convention -- if they're totally unsatisfied.

Campbell Brown is here with us with the best political team on television. A lot to digest, we've heard a lot of information. Campbell, I know you've got some good analysts there who can help us better understand what's going on.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot to digest and a lot at stake here, Wolf. And let me reintroduce our panel: Suzanne Malveaux of CNN, Jeff Toobin, also a CNN analyst, Ron Kirk, former mayor of Dallas, Texas and an Obama supporter and Robert Zimmerman, who is a Democratic strategist and Hillary Clinton supporter.

And listening as we have for the last couple of hours, Michigan looking to be a lot more complicated than Florida, right, Robert? ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's not exactly true. In Florida, there seems to be a consensus emerging that will ultimately result in Hillary Clinton getting a net gain of perhaps 19 delegates. Each delegate, having one-half of vote. Michigan's intriguing because Mark Brewer, the state party chair, a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee himself acknowledged that the Michigan proposal that he presented with Carl Levin is not based on any rules of the Democratic Party.

BROWN: OK, hold on one second, Robert, I'll come back to the panel. We've got some of the Clinton supporters who are speaking right now. We want to listen in.

BLANCHARD: Basically, it comes down to counting all the votes and respecting the voters and not just trying to punish party leaders where you may feel is aggressive or however well intentioned behavior. Congresswoman.

Congresswoman?

STEPHANIE TUBBS-JONES, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Yes, what an exciting day. Can you imagine that right now across the world, everybody is looking at the Democratic Party? At the end of the day, we'll be able to say our candidate, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton pressed the party, pressed the party to make sure that all Democrats got counted.

Tomorrow in Puerto Rico, Tuesday, South Dakota, Tuesday, Montana and all of this and it's not just because we're involved in the DNC, it's because Senator Clinton has always said, since Ohio, count every vote. Legislation 05, legislation 07. And this party, our party could not operate without including all the Democrats across this country. We want it counted and we want it counted based on the votes that occurred in January.

HARTINA FLOURNOY, DC, CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Hi, I'm Tina Flournoy and I've had several conversations today and communications with Senator Clinton throughout this process. She has made one point, she's consistently asked that Harold and I and others who are representing her keep that point in mind. She wants to know if we have come to a conclusion that guarantees that the 1.75 million voters in Florida and the 600,000 voters in Michigan's votes are counted.

We talk about all of the rules and we talk about all the issues that have gone before the Rules Committee and have happened in the past year and a half, we still circle back to that one point, are we counting the votes? Are we respecting the votes? That's why we're here. That's what we're pushing for, that's our mandate from Senator Clinton. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take questions, OK. Any questions?

QUESTION: Can you consider it respecting those votes if it is not a full count of those votes? Because that's the issue here.