Two things became clear on a conference call held earlier by Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, communications director Howard Wolfson and chief strategist Mark Penn this morning. One: they do not want anyone to forget that Barack Obama’s national media buy means that he has ads running in Florida. Two: they are determined to get Florida and Michigan delegates seated at the national convention, despite the pledge all three top Democratic candidates took not to campaign in those states (and despite the fact that neither Barack Obama nor John Edwards were on the ballot in Michigan).
In her opening remarks, Solis Doyle told reporters that when the D.N.C. penalized the Florida Democratic Party by stripping them of delegates to the national convention—because they defied the national party by moving up the date of the primary—“they thought Floridians wouldn’t vote, but we can see they’re voting in record numbers.” The campaign speculates that a major turnout is an expression of not only enthusiasm and a media-saturated primary campaign, but also, “the signal that they’re sending is that they fully expect to be heard,” as Penn said.
The three representatives of the campaign managed in the course of the call not only to heap praise on Floridians (“Hey, I think it is a testament to the people of Florida,” said Wolfson), but also to position themselves the voice of the people and the defenders of democracy. “We think that a million people coming out to vote in this country matters,” said Wolfson.
When asked why the campaign wanted delegates seated when there has been no real primary campaign in Florida, Penn said, “people in Florida have gotten a very significant campaign through the national media,” and added that he doubts there is “a household in Florida that doesn’t know about Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barrack Obama.” Penn also explained Hillary Clinton’s planned presence in Florida tonight by saying, “She is going to thank voters who came out and voted for her.”
Michigan, of course, is trickier to justify, given that her two main opponents weren’t even on the ballot. The campaign only noted this when asked about the convenient timing of coming out for Floridian voters after a big loss in South Carolina (and when she’s running comfortably ahead in Florida polls). “In fairness about Michigan,” said Penn, “the other candidates had taken their names off the ballot. Here everybody’s on the ballot, everyone had a level playing field in terms of campaigning, other than Senator Obama’s television ad.” He added later, “I think the situation was less clear then as to how many people would vote.”