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Pelosi says she will ensure peace at the Democratic convention
San Francisco Chronicle


June 01, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will step in if necessary to make sure the presidential nomination fight between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama does not reach the Democratic National Convention -- though she believes it could be resolved as early as next week.

Pelosi predicted that a presidential nominee will emerge in the week after the final Democratic primaries on June 3, but she said "I will step in" if there is no resolution by late June regarding the seating of delegates from Florida and Michigan, the two states that defied party rules by holding early primaries.

"Because we cannot take this fight to the convention," she said. "It must be over before then."

Pelosi made the comments during a wide-ranging hour-long session Wednesday with The Chronicle's editorial board. She talked about the prospects for the election of a Democratic president this fall, the legacy of President Bush, and the California Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The speaker talked in depth about the party's dilemma as its primary process comes to a close after this Sunday's Puerto Rico primary, in which 55 delegates are at stake, and Tuesday's South Dakota and Montana primaries, in which 33 total delegates are up for grabs.

Obama, according to the Associated Press, is within 45 delegates of winning the nomination, a number he could reach by Tuesday. Pelosi said she is confident the Democratic National Committee's rules committee, which meets in Washington on Saturday, will resolve the issue of Florida and Michigan.

"For now, 2,026 is the magic number" of pledged and unpledged delegates needed by a candidate to win the party's presidential nomination, she said, but "if they decide to seat (Florida and Michigan) this weekend, there will be a new magic number."

While saying she believes those two states' delegates should be seated, Pelosi added that it must happen "in a way that is not destructive to any sense of order in the party."

She said the party committee will come up with a formula that is "fair and accepted by both campaigns," perhaps allowing the states 50 percent of their delegates. But "if the resolution is not appropriate, then it remains for the (Democratic National Convention) credentials committee to resolve it," she said. Then, "it will have to happen by the end of June" or she will intervene, she said.

The Democrats hold their convention in late August in Denver.

Pelosi said she has not been in contact with the Clinton or Obama campaigns on the matter because "I think it is all going in the right direction" and will be resolved "in an orderly fashion" as early as next week.

Despite the prolonged and often divisive primary process, Pelosi said it has been "a very positive experience" for the Democratic Party.

"We will benefit from it in November," she said, predicting the party will be unified behind its standard bearer, whether it is Obama or Clinton.

"(They) know at the end of the day we cannot have a Republican president, four more years of George Bush, tax cuts for the wealthy, a war without end -- the list goes on and on," she said.

Pelosi, the nation's first female speaker of the House, said she is keenly aware of efforts, reported in The Chronicle this week, of the San Francisco political action committee, WomenCount, which is running full-page newspaper ads headlined "Not So Fast!" -- warning against what it calls premature efforts to push Clinton from the race and crown Obama the party's nominee.

Susie Tompkins Buell, a longtime Clinton friend and one of the effort's organizers, said Wednesday the committee has raised $400,000 in the past 10 days from women across the country determined to make the case for Clinton all the way to the convention.

"God bless their enthusiasm," said Pelosi of the effort. "These women are fabulous, and I know many of them very well." But, she said, while "we all want to see a woman president ... they want me to be the chair of the convention, who is neutral. And yet they want me to be for Hillary Clinton."

But the speaker said that activist women who make up Clinton's supporters, blue-collar voters and Obama backers will come together when they realize they "have the most to lose by a Democratic defeat."


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