WASHINGTON — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign blamed Sen. Barack Obama for sinking a new Democratic primary in Michigan on Tuesday, and charged that a new primary in Florida would still be possible if only Obama would embrace it.
Harold Ickes, a senior adviser to Clinton, and campaign spokesman Phil Singer accused Obama of marshaling his supporters to kill the Michigan re-vote, which seemed on track until key legislative support collapsed Tuesday.
Ickes also said he doubted Obama and Clinton could reach an agreement that would meet the national party's approval and give Florida Democrats some say in choosing the Democratic presidential nomination, as state party leaders are hoping.
"What is going on right now is basically a passive-aggressive effort by the Obama campaign to disenfranchise voters in Michigan and Florida," Singer said in a conference call with reporters.
Ickes added: "My question is to Sen. Obama, why doesn't his campaign just say, 'Let's do it.' Let's re-run these primaries, so the voices of Florida and Michigan can be recognized, the delegates can be seated, and we can be done with that."
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said, "We understand that when it comes to counting votes, the Clinton campaign favors whatever they think will benefit them."
"But on a day when Michigan legislators themselves have indicated that there isn't enough legislative support for a re-vote —and when Sen. Clinton's own Michigan co-chair said that a re-vote 'wouldn't make much difference' — it doesn't make any sense for them to point fingers at our campaign."
Clinton won the primaries in both Michigan and Florida, which together boast 367 Democratic delegates, but the Democratic National Committee stripped them of delegates for holding the contests earlier than party rules allowed.
None of the presidential candidates campaigned in the states, and only Clinton's name was on the ballot in Michigan. The states conceivably could regain their delegates by holding new elections before June.
But the Florida Democratic Party on Monday nixed holding a primary by mail because of lackluster support among many state Democratic officials, Obama and Clinton supporters alike.
Party leaders already had ruled out caucuses and a traditional statewide primary because of the costs and logistical hurdles. Now they say they hope to work with the campaigns and the DNC to strike a compromise for seating all or some of Florida's 211 delegates, and that any new election is dead.
"It's suddenly becoming impossible to hold a vote in the state of Florida in the 21st century," Ickes said. "I mean, give me a break."
Ickes acknowledged that without Michigan and Florida, Clinton is unlikely to win enough delegates in the 10 remaining primary contests to overtake Obama's 100-plus lead in delegates before the Democratic National Convention in August.
Clinton last week urged Florida and Michigan to reopen the voting booths and hold full-scale primaries. Ickes said she would have supported an election by mail.
Obama had said he would support anything the DNC approved, but his Florida supporters were cool to holding a new election and hostile to the mail-in plan.
Wes Allison can be reached at [email protected] or (202) 463-0577.