CHICAGO May 24 Democrat Barack Obama accused
rival Hillary Clinton on Saturday of "stirring up" a
controversy over the disqualified Florida primary election
because it was her last hope of winning their party's
Obama, an Illinois senator, is leading Clinton, a New York
senator, in delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination
to face Republican John McCain in the November election. The
delegates are awarded in state nominating contests that kicked
off in January.
Florida's and Michigan's delegates were stripped of their
rights to be seated at the party's August convention -- when
the nominee is formally chosen -- because their contests were
held too early in the year, in breach of party rules.
Clinton, who won both contests, has long argued the
delegates should be seated and awarded based on the popular
vote. She made a trip to Florida this week to press her case.
"The Clinton campaign has been stirring this up for fairly
transparent reasons," Obama told reporters on the plane from
San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Chicago, adding she had not done so
earlier in the race when she did not need the delegates to
"Let's not ... pretend that we don't know what's going on.
I mean this is, from their perspective, their last slender hope
to make arguments about how they can win, and I understand
that," Obama said.
Neither Clinton nor Obama campaigned in either state before
the primary elections, and the Illinois senator removed his
name from the Michigan ballot. Obama spent three days
campaigning in Florida this week.
A party committee will meet next Saturday to seek a
resolution to the conflict. Obama said he wanted the delegates
seated and brushed off arguments that voter anger at his less
aggressive role in resolving the issue would cause lasting
resentment among Democratic voters in Florida, a battleground
state in November's general election.
"I think that anger will go away once it's resolved," he
said, questioning whether those who were upset were only
Clinton supporters or other voters as well.
"I want to make the Florida delegates seated. And once
they're seated, then I think this is going to be a story that
nobody's thinking about come August."
Obama has not called for Clinton to drop out of the race
and has been careful to avoid alienating her supporters.
He said on Saturday he would need to "pivot quickly" in
June, if he obtains the number of delegates to secure the
nomination, to engage in a search for a vice presidential
"I think we'll have ample time, should I be the nominee, to
engage in that process."
(Editing by Peter Cooney)
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