Obama, Clinton trade accusations

01/16/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The Democratic candidates for president showed little interest in last night’s Michigan primary, instead participating in Las Vegas in a nationally televised debate, four days before the important Nevada Caucuses.

That’s because the Democratic National Committee had already declared that the delegates won in Michigan would not count, because of penalties the DNC imposed on Michigan Democrats for violating party rules by holding a primary in January.

It’s the exact same penalty imposed on Florida Democrats. The Jan. 29 primary will also not count, and the candidates themselves signed an agreement in September not to campaign in Florida or Michigan.

Last night the Barack Obama campaign sent out a memo suggesting that Hillary Clinton might violate that agreement because she has scheduled a fundraiser in South Florida on Jan. 27. The memo said that there were signs that Clinton "may be planning to campaign in the state."

A Clinton spokesman she will not campaign in the state, adding that it was "disappointing that the Obama campaign continues to tell people that their voices don’t count."

The Obama memo is getting bad reviews in the state’s press. The lead sentence in today’s article in the St. Petersburg Times was “Barack Obama doesn’t care what Florida Democrats say on Jan. 29.”

Frank Sanchez is finance chairman for the Obama campaign in the Tampa Bay region. He took exception to that lead written by Times political editor Adam Smith.

The Clinton camp came out firing shortly after the Obama memo was issued, sending out a memo to reporters about how the Obama campaign and its supporters ran radio ads in Michigan urging them to vote for” uncommitted” as a way to register their support for Obama.

A Quinnipiac Poll released early this week shows Clinton with a large lead of more than 20 points over Obama in Florida – that’s not that much different throughout 2007, showing that whatever bounce the Illinois Senator received from winning Iowa and coming in a close second in New Hampshire, hasn’t trickled down to Democrats in the Sunshine State.

Some analysts are parsing the Obama memo as trying to downgrade Florida to the level of Michigan, which was barely acknowledged in the national press. The theory is that Obama expects to lose here. But Frank Sanchez, who also advises Obama on Latin American issues, says they want people to exercise their vote.

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