A Clinton Hurricane Hits Outside the DNC Hearing Room

There was a tornado watch outside the Democratic National Committee's Rules & Bylaws Committee meeting at the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel Saturday afternoon. And there was a brewing storm inside the hotel as well.

A group of public officials -- allies of both Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Barack Obama -- walked out of the hearing room to discuss their willingness to come together on a plan to seat all their delegates, each voting at half-delegate status, but representatives of the Clinton campaign from outside Florida interrupted their press conference to dispute the idea that the Clinton campaign agreed with the plan.

The "Florida unity" group, which included Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, a Clinton supporter, Rep. Bob Wexler, D-Florida, am Obama supporter, and Florida Democratic National Committee member Jon Ausman of Tallahassee, who filed a challenge to the DNC's decision to not recognize any of Florida's delegates.

They seemed to come around the idea that for now the DNC would agree to seat Florida's entire 211-member delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, though all the delegates -- pledged and superdelegates -- would have their vote count as half a delegate. The move would net Clinton 19 pledged delegates. Participants seemed to agree that the door was open to the eventual Democratic nominee seating them at full strength if he or she so chose.

Clinton campaign surrogate Lanny Davis stood outside the circle and interrupted, raising his voice in protest that the Clinton campaign had agreed to anything less than a 100% seating of the delegates at 100% of their strength.

Nelson noted that he was speaking "on behalf of the voters of Florida," not on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

"They're misrepresenting our stance," Davis said repeatedly.

Then Arthenia L. Joyner, Clinton's designated Florida representative, approached the circle.

"The campaign is only for 100%," Joyner said.

Davis and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a fiery supporter of Sen. Clinton's, exchanged some heated words with Ausman after the Florida DNC member suggested they had no business speaking.

Davis took issue with some from the Florida unity group saying the Obama campaign's concession was "generous" since Clinton would net 19 delegates.

"That is not generous when they take away 50%," Davis said. "That is spin!"

What's wrong with netting 19 delegates? "It's 19 less than the people of Florida voted," Davis said.

This was more than Florida DNC member Ausman could apparently take. "I can say they're being generous," Ausman said of the Obama campaign, "and I'm the one who filed the petition."

"Are you a paid staff member for Clinton?" Ausman asked Davis.

"Actually I'm just a friend," said Davis.

"Are you a designated representative of the Clinton campaign?" Ausman, who may be a foot taller than Davis, asked.

"I am not," Davis said.

"Why don't you let the designated representative speak for Clinton and you be silent?" Ausman said, more a statement than a question. "Are you from Florida?"

"Why don't you go about your business?" Jones asked Ausman.

"As a matter of fact I will not be silent," Davis said, "you're not going to silence me."

"You had your interview," interjected Jones. "Why don't you let someone else be interviewed? I am the designated representative for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. My name is Stephanie Tubbs Jones and I represent the great state of Ohio.

"We don't expect that the Obama campaign will be so 'generous' as to 'give' us the 19 delegates," Jones continued. "It is in fact more generous and more appropriate to count all the votes as they were cast."

Jones would not comment on the Clinton campaign's position that Obama be awarded zero delegates and zero popular votes from Michigan, where his name was not on the ballot.

- jpt

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