Clinton, Obama converge on Florida
The two Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning Wednesday
in Florida, but they are in pursuit of different goals.
Fresh from her win Tuesday in the Kentucky primary, Sen. Hillary
Clinton will be pushing for the Democratic National Committee to seat
Florida's delegates at the national convention.
Sen. Barack Obama, meanwhile, is keeping his eye on November as he
campaigns in the Southern state for the first time this year, as Florida
again is expected to play a critical role as a swing state in the
Obama directed his fire at Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP
presidential nominee, during a campaign stop in Tampa.
"He's running for four more years of George Bush," Obama said of
McCain. "He's running for a third Bush term; that is what he's running
Obama also challenged McCain's position on lobbyists.
"John McCain offered a bill that said he would ban a candidate from
paying registered lobbyists, and he did this because he said that having
lobbyists on your campaign was a conflict of interest. This is what he
said 10 years ago," Obama said.
"Well, I'll tell you that John McCain then would be pretty
disappointed with John McCain now, because he hired some of the biggest
lobbyists in Washington to run this campaign."
McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds lashed out at Obama on
"Sen. Obama made some pretty harsh attacks today on John McCain ...
but a quick look at his campaign shows he's completely hypocritical on
this issue," he said. "In Obama's world, a lobbyist can't contribute to
the campaign, but they can raise money and advise the candidate on
policy issues. It's absurd."
McCain's national finance co-chairman stepped down last Sunday, the
fifth adviser in a little more than a week to leave the Republican's
campaign over questions about lobbying or past ties to lobbyists. Former
Rep. Thomas G. Loeffler of Texas was a major fundraiser for McCain.
Obama strengthened his position as the favorite in the race for the
Democratic nomination Tuesday when he captured a majority of the pledged
delegates after winning the Oregon primary and additional delegates in
With 1,656 pledged delegates, Obama has more than half of the 3,253
total pledged delegates, those allocated according to the results of
primaries and caucuses.
However, Obama does not have enough delegates to secure the
nomination outright. He has 1,962 delegates, including superdelegates,
the elected and party officials -- short of the 2,026 needed to secure
the nomination, according to CNN estimates.
Clinton has 1,777 delegates.
While Obama was looking ahead to the fall, Clinton was fighting hard
to keep her candidacy alive.
Florida was stripped of delegates because its January 29 primary was
held too early and in violation of party rules.
The Democratic National Committee will decide May 31 whether the
Florida delegates -- as well as those from Michigan -- will be allowed
to vote at the convention. Michigan also lost its delegates for
scheduling its primary too early -- on January 15 -- in violation of
"The decision our party faces is not just about the fate of these
votes or the outcome of these primaries," Clinton said Wednesday in Boca
"It's whether we will uphold our most fundamental values as Democrats
and Americans. It's whether we will move forward united and take back
the White House this November. That has to be the prize we have to keep
Clinton said Florida's Democratic voters were being punished for
something they did not do, noting that the Republican-controlled
Legislature moved up the state's primary date to late January.
"They did nothing wrong, and they should not be punished for doing
their civic duty," Clinton said of those who voted in the primary.
The senator from New York won the Florida contest and would receive a
majority of the state's 211 delegates if the primary results were
counted. Her campaign argues that she is leading Obama in the popular
vote if the results from Florida and Michigan are included.
Clinton maintains that the Florida and Michigan delegations should be
seated out of fairness to voters in those states.
"I'm going to keep standing up for the voters of Florida and
Michigan," Clinton told supporters Tuesday in Louisville, Kentucky.
"Democrats in those two states cast 2.3 million votes, and they
deserve to have those votes counted. And that's why I'm going to keep
making our case until we have a nominee, whoever she may be."
But Obama supporters argue that seating Florida's delegation based on
the January primary would be unfair. The Democratic candidates agreed
not to campaign in the state because its primary violated party rules,
and Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan