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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

UPDATED: From the Florida Democratic Delegate Front: Lots of movement, but standing still

With her chances of winning fading, Hillary Clinton sent Barack Obama a letter Thursday imploring him to ask the Democratic National Committee to make all of Florida's and Michigan's delegates count towards the presidential nomination.

Most of Florida's congressional Democrats also sent DNC Chairman Howard Dean a letter asking him to help ensure a decision is made by May 31, when the Rules and Bylaws Committee meets to hear an appeal of Florida's case. The state lost its delegates for holding its primary on Jan. 29, a week earlier than party rules allowed.

Meanwhile, at about the same time those letters were released, the Associated Press caused an uproar by reporting that the DNC, the Florida Democratic Party, Obama and Clinton were "on the verge" of striking a deal for seating some portion of Florida's 211 delegates.

It turned out to be wrong, however.

FDP communications director Mark Bubriski hustled to assuage startled aides to the state's Democratic members of Congress, who should known about any deal.

In an email titled "Important clarification," Bubriski wrote that, "At least as far the state party knows, there is no imminent 'deal' or 'plan' to seat the Florida delegation in the works. We continue to discuss the issue with the campaigns and the DNC as we have for months now, but we're not on the verge of any deal nor are we talking about a one."

Bubriski did say discussions had increased in recent days, and Florida Democratic officials were hopeful they may reach some consensus that the DNC could approve.

Allowing all the delegates to count from Florida and Michigan, which also held its primary too early, has become a priority for Clinton: She won both states. Counting them would give her a net gain of 58 delegates, her campaign figures, putting her within 100 total delegates of Obama. That would strengthen her argument to superdelegates that they should throw their support to her.

After it meets May 31, the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee could elect to give Florida none of its delegates, half its delegates, all of them, or some portion in between. In their letter to Dean, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, Sen. Bill Nelson and other congressional Democrats argued that failing to count Florida's delegates will doom the nominee's chances here in the fall.

"We cannot afford to allow this sad chapter in our Party’s history to perpetuate itself any longer," they wrote. "Bringing it to a close at that meeting will allow us say to our voters with a straight face that their votes count and then turn our full attention to winning Florida and beating the Republicans and John McCain this November."

The one Florida Democrat who didn't sign the letter was U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, who supports Obama, because she said she believed the letter was prompted by the Clinton campaign.

"It was obvious to me that it was a calculated move. It was kind of a last gasp thing," Castor told Buzz. And you know how I feel right now, this is a very hopeful time, and our time would be better spent focusing on the issues that are important in the gen election campaign with Sen. Obama as the nominee."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:56am]

    

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