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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Madame Speaker Speaks on the Fla. Primary



U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the honorary chairman of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, said the real decision about whether to seat Florida's delegates will be made by the presidential nominee.

Pelosi, at a round-table discussion with reporters in Washington, said the Democratic National Committee can try to enforce its rules, but the party's authority essentially ends when the convention begins.

"The reality is if you want to know if Florida is going to be seated, ask the Democratic nominee as soon as one emerges," she said.

The DNC stripped Florida of its 210 delegates after the state Legislature voted to move the state's primary to Jan. 29, a week earlier than permitted under party rules.

Then, at the behest of the four authorized early states -- South Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada - the leading Democratic candidates pledged not to campaign in Florida until after the primary. Even their spouses won't come to the Florida Democratic Convention later this month.

Pelosi, of California, was sympathetic to Florida's plight: She noted that not only did the GOP-led Legislature change the date (with Democratic help), but it put a property tax issue "on the ballot that the Democrats just could not walk away from.

"So you cannot suppress the Democratic vote in an important election by saying, 'Oh, we're going to have ours a month later. Or, we're going to change to a caucus system or something.'"

Pelosi, a veteran DNC member, she said she was the "enforcer" of party rules in 1984, as chairman of the host committee for the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

"I had this job of - it was called compliance review," she said. "I had to go to the states and say, 'If you don't come within the window, you won't be seated.' And, they said, 'Ha, ha.' Because, there's no presidential candidate who's going to say we're not seating New Hampshire, and we're not seating Iowa.

"I did what I had to do. And, they did what they had to do, which was what they thought was in the interest of their state... The ultimate authority will be who the nominee is."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:19am]


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