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Mich., Fla. Seek Chance to Redo Democratic Primaries

As a tight primary race continues, the Democratic Party is considering redoing primaries in Michigan and Florida -- states who were stripped of their delegates for holding their primaries too early -- to allow those states' delegates to be seated at the national convention. Officials from each state discuss the options.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And finally tonight, the Democrats' missing delegates. Judy Woodruff has that story.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    With the Democratic race for president likely to continue on for weeks, possibly all the way to the convention, party officials are trying to figure out what to do about Michigan and Florida.

    Because both states held their presidential primaries in January, earlier than the two national parties wanted, the parties retaliated. The Republicans stripped Michigan and Florida of half of their convention delegates; the Democrats stripped away all of them, delegates who could tip the balance if allowed to sit at the convention in Denver.

    Yesterday, Governors Granholm of Michigan, a Democrat, and Crist of Florida, a Republican, issued a joint statement, arguing, quote, "It is intolerable that the national political parties have denied the citizens of Michigan and Florida their votes and voices at their respective national conventions."

    This morning, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, responded on ABC's "Good Morning America."

  • HOWARD DEAN, Chairman, Democratic National Committee:

    Well, we would love to have them seated, but they have to be seated within the rules. A year-and-a-half ago, we set a primary schedule, which Florida and Michigan both voted for.

    What you cannot do is change the rules in the middle of a contest. I think every American understands that.

    There's been a lot of talk about things that they can do. We've been very clear what they can do. One, they can resubmit to the Democratic National Committee Rules Committee a set of rules to pick delegates that are within the rules that they agreed to.

    And, two, if they don't want to do that, they can appeal to the Credentials Committee and hope for the best in July.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Senators Clinton and Obama stuck by their agreement not to campaign in those two states and Obama withdrew his name from the Michigan ballot.

    But after Clinton scored victories in both contests, her campaign began to argue in favor of seating the delegates. Clinton addressed the issue again today.

    SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: I think that it would be a grave disservice to the voters of Florida and Michigan to adopt any process that would disenfranchise anyone. And, therefore, I am still committed to seating their delegations.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Obama has called for a solution to the delegate conundrum, one that is fair to both sides.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: There are probably a whole slew of different solutions that could be come up with that would both achieve the interest of making sure that Michigan and Florida delegates participate without skewing the delegate count for either candidate. And I think, to the extent that we can work something out like that, that would make sense.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The total of Florida and Michigan's combined Democratic delegates is 366. Barack Obama currently leads Hillary Clinton by about 100.