Michigan thrashes out deal to be heard in Democratic race

Michigan Democrats on Thursday offered a compromise that would restore the state's votes in the hard-fought presidential race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, dpa reported.

The proposal, which must still be approved by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), "splits the difference" between the demands of senators Obama and Clinton in a long-running dispute over how to reinstate Michigan's delegates to the presidential nominating convention, the state party said.

The campaigns for both candidates said they were unhappy with the new proposal.

Michigan and Florida both flouted national party rules by holding primaries in January, earlier than allowed, and were stripped of their delegates to Democratic convention in late August.

Of the major presidential candidates, only Clinton's name was on the ballot in Michigan's January 15 vote, and the DNC forbade candidates to campaign in the Midwestern state. Clinton won 55 per cent, with a 40-per-cent vote for "uncommitted."

The former first lady has lobbied hard for Michigan's 128 delegates to be reinstated as allotted by the January vote, as she fights to keep her presidential ambitions alive and overtake Obama's steady lead in the delegate count.

Obama's campaign has said that the primary was unfair and has called for the Michigan delegates to be divided up equally.

The state party's executive committee approved a deal that would divide the delegates 69- 59 in favour of Clinton, who had sought the wider margin of 73-55 as apportioned by the January vote. Obama's campaign argued for a 64-64 split.

"Obviously (both candidates) are not getting exactly what they wanted," said Michigan Democratic Party spokeswoman Elizabeth Kerr, but she was "hopeful" that the DNC would accept the compromise.

Clinton, in a letter Thursday to Obama, renewed her demand that the votes of Florida and Michigan be counted and accused Obama of scuppering a plan for the two states to hold new, valid primary elections.

"It is not enough to simply seat their representatives at the convention in Denver. The people of these great states ... must have a voice in selecting our party's nominee," Clinton wrote.

Efforts to hold revotes in the two states failed in March as the two campaigns argued over who should be allowed to participate.

Michigan's proposal will be considered by the DNC on May 31, when the national party will also seek solution to the dispute in Florida, which voted January 29. Clinton won 50 per cent to 33 per cent for Obama, but no campaigning had been allowed in the state before the vote.

Democrats in Florida, which has 185 delegates, have not yet put forward their own compromise.

A candidate needs 2,025 delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama leads by 1,848 to 1,693 for Clinton, according to realclearpolitics.com, with six remaining contests concluding on June 3.

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