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Breaking the Democratic quagmire

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Florida Democrats are "excited" about their role at convention
  • National party steps in to help resolve Florida and Michigan's delegate dilemma
  • Chairman Dean tells Florida delegation that they'll be seated at the convention
  • No one can broker a deal except the candidates themselves, Dean says
  • Next Article in Politics »
From Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As the Democratic Party steps in to solve the dispute over the Florida and Michigan delegates, the question now appears to be who can broker a deal before the party's convention in August.

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National party Chairman Howard Dean is calling on the candidates to resolve the delegate dilemma.

Former President Clinton is hardly neutral, and former Vice President Al Gore said in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview Sunday that he's "not applying for the job of broker."

That leaves Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who's under enormous pressure, to do something.

The DNC stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates as a penalty for scheduling their primaries too early. Both states want their delegates to have a say at the convention, but the party has been unable to come up with a plan to seat them.

On Wednesday, Dean met with Florida's Democratic congressional delegation and announced, "we will absolutely seat a delegation from Florida at the convention."

So, is there a deal? Not quite. Dean, however, did make one big announcement.

"We are confident enough that we have reserved hotel rooms for the delegates from Florida in Denver as far as I know," Dean said. Video Watch more of Dean's comments »

Rep. Karen Thurman, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, said, "We have hotel rooms reserved, and we are excited about that.''

"This is a breakthrough to have the [national] chairman indicate that he's going to do everything he can,'' said Rep. Ron Klein, D-Florida.

Some Democrats have been getting impatient -- like Phil Bredesen, the governor of Tennessee.

"What I want our party to do is just take it off auto-pilot here. We've got a problem, and our party's just got to step in and find some way to resolve it," he said.

The fact is, there are no party bosses anymore; nobody can tell the candidates what to do.

Dean did lay down one marker, saying there's "no reason that we shouldn't know who our nominee is by the first of July."

Dean got backing for that deadline from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But Sen. Hillary Clinton has said she intends to stay in the race with Sen. Barack Obama and fight all the way to the convention.

Neither Clinton nor Obama will win the 2,024 delegates needed to capture the nomination outright, meaning the superdelegates probably will determine the Democratic nominee. Video Watch an analysis of the race »

Obama currently leads Clinton in delegates 1,625 to 1,486, according to CNN estimates. Obama also leads in the overall popular vote.

The fact is, no one can broker a deal except the candidates themselves, as Dean has acknowledged. Video Watch Dean's interview with CNN's Campbell Brown »

"The best option is whatever we can get the candidates to agree to," he said.

"I think the delegates are eventually going to be seated from Florida and Michigan as soon as we get an agreement from the candidates about how to do that," Dean added.

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In 1988, Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson made a deal over campaign resources. In 1984, Walter Mondale and Gary Hart made a deal over party rules. In 1980, Ronald Reagan and George Bush went on the ticket together, as John Kerry and John Edwards did in 2004.

The point is, the candidates have to do it themselves. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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