Nick Baumann

Nick Baumann

Senior Editor

Nick is based in our DC bureau, where he covers national politics and civil liberties issues. Nick has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic, the Washington Monthly, and Commonweal. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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Harold Ickes Is Not Happy

| Sat May 31, 2008 6:40 PM EDT

It seems obvious now that there is majority support for the solution supported by the Michigan Democratic Party. That would mean 69 delegates for Hillary Clinton and 59 for Barack Obama (with each delegate getting one-half vote).

But Harold Ickes (and, by extension, Hillary Clinton) are very unhappy. "I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for 600,000 voters," Ickes said. He used the word "hijack" a lot, and said "Hijacking four delegates is not a good way to start down the path to party unity." The big news of the day was the final words of Ickes' argument: "Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee." If the crowd in the meeting room is any indication, Mrs. Clinton's supporters want her to exercise that right.

It could be a bluff. But make no mistake: if Hillary Clinton takes this dispute to the credentials committee, she'll be going to the mattresses. Most of the top leaders of the Democratic party have indicated that they do not support this process extending to the convention. If Clinton wants to go down that road, she'll face a lot of opposition.

Before the final vote, Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer got a final chance to speak in favor of the motion supporting the party's 69-59 split. He thanked the committee for its consideration and promised to work hard for the Democratic nominee.

The measure passed, 19-8.

Now it's time to wait and see how the Clinton campaign responds. If Ickes' speech opposing the motion was any indication, they won't respond well.

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Denver! Denver! Denver! Denver! Denver! Denver!

| Sat May 31, 2008 6:28 PM EDT

The Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting is getting fairly raucous. When the motion to fully seat Florida's delegation failed, the crowd started shouting: "Denver! Denver! Denver!" The debate is being constantly interrupted by heckling. But Alice Munro, speaking in the debate over giving the Florida delegates half-votes, called for unity. After having supported the first motion, Munro said: "The world's not perfect, but it's good. What this party needs is unity." Ickes echoed her sentiments.

The motion to give the Florida delegates half votes passed with 27 yes votes.

Rules Committee Votes Against Fully Seating Florida

| Sat May 31, 2008 6:09 PM EDT

The RBC returned after a three-hour lunch with a motion that Florida's delegates be seated in full with their full votes. The Clinton supporters on the committee apparently forced the vote. In support of her motion, committee member Alice Huffman emphasized that the Florida Democrats were not responsible for changing the date—that was the Republican-controlled legislature.

David McDonald, who opposed the motion, agreed with Huffman that it was not the fault of Florida voters that their primary didn't count. Yvonne Gates, who also opposed the motion, said "What we were trying to do was to respect the rules. It was not the voters fault. But when you have rules, they must be followed. And if they're not followed you have chaos."

Tina Flournoy, who is one of the two most avowed Clinton support, said she planned to "strongly support" the motion although it "has no chance" of passing.

Other committee members spoke in favor and against, but it was obvious that the motion was doomed from the start. It failed, 15-12.

Remember That "Smoke-Filled Room" Everyone Told You About?

| Sat May 31, 2008 5:19 PM EDT

That smoke-filled room you've heard so much about is apparently where the members of the Democrats' Rules and Bylaws Committee are as of 5:30pm on Saturday. They adjourned for lunch at 3:00 and have yet to return to the meeting room. Rumors of back-room deals are flying about. We could be waiting a lot longer, too: the committee members had "5 1/2 hours of cocktails, chicken dinners, and coffee" last night, according to James Pindell. Then again, they were up until 1:30. Maybe they're just catching some collective shut-eye.

Somehow I doubt it. I'll get you more news as soon as the meeting resumes.

Clinton Rep.: Uncommitted Delegates Could Switch "In August"

| Sat May 31, 2008 2:30 PM EDT

Whoa there, tiger. Former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard, who is representing the Clinton campaign at today's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, just drew the first boos from the Obama people in the audience. Blanchard, discussing the uncommitted delegates that the Clinton campaign wants assigned from the Michigan primary, said that while most would probably go for Obama, they could be "switching back and forth" "in August." A not-so-subtle signal of Clinton's plans to take this to the convention, perhaps?

That's not the only controversial statement Blanchard made. He also claimed that "no one in Michigan," including "the news media" "was saying the votes wouldn't count" in January. That seems unlikely.

More when the committee comes back from lunch later this afternoon.

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