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Sources: Dems could meet Florida, Michigan halfway

  • Story Highlights
  • Sources: DNC may compromise on Florida and Michigan delegates
  • DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee set to meet this weekend to decide
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton unlikely to overtake Sen. Barack Obama in delegates
  • Court throws out lawsuit on DNC's decision not to seat Florida delegates
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Democratic Party is likely to meet rule-breaking Florida and Michigan halfway when it comes to seating their delegates at the national convention, two members of the rules committee said Wednesday.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign is pushing for a plan to seat as many Florida and Michigan delegates as possible.

Such a move may help Sen. Hillary Clinton close the delegate gap with front-runner Sen. Barack Obama but not overtake him, said sources familiar with party deliberations.

The sources did not want to be identified because the full committee has not discussed the problem or ruled on it.

The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee meets Saturday in Washington to consider what to do with Florida and Michigan, which broke ranks to hold primaries earlier than party rules allowed. will stream live coverage of the meeting from start to finish on Saturday.

As punishment, both state parties were told that they would not be represented at all when the party officially nominates a presidential candidate at the August convention in Denver, Colorado, and they are challenging those sanctions.

Clinton and her supporters have been pressing for a compromise that seats as many delegates from the two states as possible. Clinton's Web site encourages people to write to the Rules and Bylaws Committee. Video Watch Clinton supporter James Carville offers his solution »

"There is one number that we are going to be satisfied with, and that is 2.3 million people having their votes counted," Clinton supporter Tina Flournoy said. About 600,000 people voted in Michigan and about 1.7 million in Florida.

The party needs "to recognize the January primary votes in both of those states," Clinton campaign co-chairman Harold Ickes said Wednesday.

"Pledged delegates fairly reflect the will of the voters," Ickes said, referring to delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses.

Ickes and Flournoy are both members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee.Video Watch more on the Democrats' dilemma »

Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, won decisively in both states. But all candidates initially agreed not to campaign in either state after they broke party rules.

Obama and some other candidates had their names taken off the Michigan ballot, but he was on Florida's ballot.

In addition to deciding how many, if any, Florida and Michigan delegates to seat at the convention, the rules committee must determine how the delegates would be allocated between Clinton and Obama.

Various formulas have been suggested, most of which would give Clinton more delegates than Obama, but not enough to overtake his lead, which CNN currently estimates at about 200.

Ickes said Wednesday that he expected Obama's lead over Clinton to be "over 100" pledged delegates when primary season ends June 3.

Counting the two states' votes could bring Clinton close enough to Obama's total among pledged delegates which in turn could help persuade the party's "superdelegates" that she is the more electable general election candidate.

Superdelegates are party officials who can cast their ballots for the candidate of their choice. They hold the balance of power in the party at the moment.

The Obama campaign says it is willing to compromise on how Michigan and Florida delegates are seated, portraying its position as a gesture to party unity.

"Any compromise is going to benefit Sen. Clinton," Obama strategist David Plouffe said Wednesday. "We're hoping there can be some reasonable resolution on Saturday that can allow us to move to the general election."

The Obama campaign was dismissive of efforts by the Clinton campaign to have supporters demonstrate outside the rules meeting.

"We're not going to turn this thing into a circus," former Democratic Party Chairman David Wilhelm said.

A memo prepared for Rule and Bylaws Committee members says the party was within its rights to strip both states of all their delegates. CNN obtained a copy of the confidential memo, which committee members received Tuesday.

Party rules require that states lose at least 50 percent of all their delegates for the violations Michigan and Florida committed.

The documents are intentionally neutral, according to a senior Democratic Party official with knowledge of the rules and bylaws discussions and who is not aligned with either Clinton or Obama.

They do not make specific recommendations. The analysis seeks to provide a rules framework for each argument and the issues raised within each challenge.

Separately, a federal judge in Tampa on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit challenging the party's decision not to seat delegates from Florida.

Political consultant Victor DiMaio and his attorney, Michael Steinberg, had compared the decision to prohibitions against allowing African-Americans to vote. And they invoked the trauma of the Florida recount in the 2000 contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

"This is nuts. This is not right. How can they remove Florida after all the things that Florida has suffered through? Hanging chads, through Bush v. Gore, and they're sticking it to us again," DiMaio said before the hearing.

But DNC Chairman Howard Dean said the situations are not comparable.

"You cannot violate the rules of the process and then expect to get forgiven for it," Dean said.


Judge Richard Lazzara sided with the DNC, saying political parties have the right to make their own rules. It is the second Florida lawsuit protesting the party's decision to be thrown out of court, following one filed by Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Alcee Hastings, both Florida Democrats.

DiMaio may appeal to the Supreme Court.

CNN's Candy Crowley, Susan Candiotti and Ed Hornick contributed to this report.

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