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'Raw Politics': Dems should have seen it coming

  • Story Highlights
  • Michigan, Florida were stripped of delegates for scheduling primaries too early
  • Those delegates could be crucial to Democratic nomination
  • Democrats should have seen the delegate dilemma coming, says Tom Foreman
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By Tom Foreman
CNN Washington Bureau
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"Raw Politics" on "Anderson Cooper 360" delivers the latest political news with a wry sense of a humor and without spin.

(CNN) -- When I was a first-grader in South Dakota, my older brother and I climbed onto a sled, at the top of an ice covered trail that plunged through a forest.

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Florida and Michigan got stripped of their Democratic delegates for scheduling their primaries too early.

He stretched out on his stomach and grabbed the steering handles, I climbed onto his back and held tight. A quick push and we were flying; faster and faster, ice crystals stinging, the steel runners cutting like blades.

Then we saw it. Dead ahead. A fat pine.

He yelled for me to fall off; lighten the load so he might swerve away. I held tight. He said I was pinning his arms down. I held tight. He said we were going to hit. He was right.

As we lay in the snow by our crumpled sled, gloves, hats, boots strewn around like a yard sale, two teenage girls walked by. They looked at us, looked at the tree, looked the sled run, and summed up our adventure. "Well, you could have seen that coming."

Michigan. Florida. The Democrats could have, should have seen it coming. Video Watch what led to the delegate dilemma »

Back when they decided to punish both states by stripping them of their delegates for moving up their primaries, national party officials made it clear they felt they had no other choice.

With so many states angling for a bigger say in the election process, if they didn't stop these two big players, they feared an avalanche of others would follow.

Christmas caucuses. Halloween primaries. Who knew where it would stop?

But even back then, other troubling questions were rising: Are you really going to tell all those Democrats they can't play? Don't you worry that they'll be angry and will punish the party in the general election? And for crying out loud, doesn't Florida in January sound a lot nicer than New Hampshire?

But they went ahead, and now they are paying. They left the basement full of oily rags, matches and 5-year-olds, and now they are surprised that it's burning.

Putting out the blaze around these two states now is possible -- but so problematic it almost defies rational discussion.

Do you count the votes as they were taken? Give everything to Hillary Clinton? The Barack Obama people would go nuts.

Do you keep both states locked out and say "the rules are the rules"? Remember what I just said about the Obama people? Multiply that by the millions of Democrats in both states.

Do you come up with a way to revote? Maybe. But it is expensive, time consuming, and would almost certainly face serious complaints that it is a tainted process precisely because both states voted once already in clearly unsanctioned fashion, and yet, Clinton was declared the leader.

In other words, a revote would begin under a false premise, (no matter how much people say it would not) that she is the natural front-runner in both states.

And oh, by the way, any means of bringing these two states into the process now as tight as the race is, will grant them both precisely what they wanted in the first place: Decisive roles in picking the nominee.

I understand why people in both of these states feel like they are being cut out. Because, frankly, they are being cut out. What I don't understand is how the Democratic Party is going to get itself out of the mess it is in without infuriating at least half of the people who have voted so far; specifically, whichever half winds up losing the nomination.

I'm also not sure which national level Democrat has the muscle and courage, given the raw feelings rising around this election, to step in and lead the charge toward a compromise.

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Because in the end, if Florida and Michigan come back into the process, unless some sort of equal split is worked out, one candidate will benefit and one will suffer. And the losers are not going to be happy.

Like a big fat pine at the bottom of your sled run: You ought to see it coming. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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