(NOTE: the festivities started at 9:30 AM ET; Joe's liveblog is here. You can watch the DNC's live video feed here and here.)
Today's the delegate showdown day as the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee sits down and attempts to come up with a solution for seating some, all or none of the delegates by the renegade states of Florida and Michigan. Those states chose to move up their primaries in violation of party rules and the penalty all candidates and states agree on was that those delegates cannot be seated.
There is supposed to be a huge rally at this meeting; purportedly 10,000 Hillary supporters -- along with McCain and Huckabee fans (!?) -- will show up. (Joe Sudbay of Americablog is at the Wardman Park Marriott to liveblog the meeting and just IMed me to say there aren't ten thousand people there, and he has pix.)
“We don’t think it’s a helpful dynamic to create chaos,” David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, said. “In the interest of party unity, we’re encouraging our supporters not to protest.”
...Allida Black, a professor at George Washington University and a Clinton supporter, is helping to organize the demonstration and is hoping that people come from all over the nation. “We’re trying to flood it,” she says
The Clinton campaign believes that all delegates should be seated, the argument being every vote should count, since "the people" didn't make the decision to move up the primary. On the flip side, since Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan, the results of that primary can hardly be considered a barometer of the will of the voters there; in Florida, he was on the ballot, but did not campaign, something both candidates also agreed to at the outset. Given all of this, it will come down to a decision by the 30 members of the rules committee. And who is on the committee?
The committee has several Democratic heavyweights such as Harold Ickes, one of Hillary Clinton's top advisers; Donna Brazile, the campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000; and Alice Germond, the DNC secretary. The rest is made up of lawyers and state party members otherwise unlikely to appear on network TV.
And Ickes position is, no surprise. Read below the fold.
"We are confident that the rules and bylaws committee has full latitude to shape the appropriate sanction if they want to," Ickes said. "And they have the full power to seat both delegations with all delegates and with full votes."
Obama's campaign has suggested a 50-50 split of the disputed delegates.
...Ickes said it's premature to say whether Clinton would appeal to the party's credentials committee if -- as expected -- Saturday's ruling falls well short of that. If Clinton took her case before that committee, it would all but guarantee a potentially damaging fight during the Democratic National Convention in Denver in late August, a situation the party desperately wants to avoid.
"We think it's not useful to cross streams before we come to them," Ickes said. "We are hopeful and expectant that the committee will do the right thing, and make sure all the votes were counted in the way they were cast. I think it's important for us going into this process to assume the best. We do assume the best."
Random related weirdness...
* Bill Clinton sees a vast left wing conspiracy to tank his wife's candidacy -- and he's making a list of enemies and checking it twice.
* Denial, delusion, or dedication - you decide:
The press traveling with Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign received an email Thursday afternoon informing reporters they could sign up for travel through June 6 on the campaign website. Given the speculation surrounding plausible outcomes from this Saturday's DNC Meeting and the final Democratic primaries on June 3, many confused looks passed between reporters on the back of the press bus.
When asked for comment, Clinton spokesman Jay Carson looked past Tuesday's primaries to the general election. "There are a lot of places for us to go between June 4 and November," Carson said.