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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Decision Day: Superdelegate Convention; Will Florida and Michigan Get a Say in This Election?

Aired May 31, 2008 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Except for Al Gore who, whatever I had been through, he had had the presidency of the United States snatched from him 40 days before the election by five intellectually bankrupt Supreme Court justices that did the wrong thing.
And so the conclusion that I drew is this is not about our candidates. This is not about Barack Obama. This is not about Hillary Clinton. This is about our country.

This is about restoring America to its greatness, to restoring our moral authority and to healing America at home. That's what this is about.

Over the course of this primary, there have been very tough disagreements and some ugly moments in this campaign. On the blogosphere and the airwaves, emotions have run very high and heated discussions have led at times to blatant sexist comments, particularly by some members of the media -- and -- and blatantly racist remarks.

And we know that those comments have no place in our society and certainly no place in our party, and that will stop. And we need to come together and unite this party and each one of us has a responsibility to ensure that that happens.

Part of that healing will begin today with a very spirited discussion I'm sure, about Michigan and Florida. And I want to thank, again, the extraordinary leadership that we have in this committee and the extraordinary membership that we have. And, again, tell you how much I appreciate it and I appreciate how difficult this is for every single one of you.

As you work to find a resolution I ask that you keep three principles in mind, to guide your discussion and your deliberation.

First, we want to respect the voters of Florida and Michigan. Not just those who turned out to vote but those who did not. They did not cause this problem. Secondly, we need to respect our two candidates and their campaigns who followed the rules that this body set forth two years ago. And thirdly, we need to respect the 48 states who did not violate the rules and who conducted their business as we asked them to.

Understandably, the compromises that you will discuss and, I hope, make here today will not satisfy everyone completely. Years ago a Democratic rule discussion was an invitation for a food night a crowded room like this of Democratic activists. I think we've moved beyond that and your actions today will put us back on a course of party unity.

That party unity will be on display less than 90 days from now when we meet in Denver to showcase our nominee, and the extraordinary talent of the Democratic Party up and down the ticket and the values that we share with the American people. This unity will guide our work in the coming months as we work towards an election day, and that we show up and ask Americans to put their trust in the Democratic Party, to restore our country to its greatness.

This is the unity that we must show America when we will inaugurate a Democratic president in January of 2009 and begin the great restoration of the greatest country on the face of the earth.

Thank you so much.

JAMES ROOSEVELT JR., CO-CHAIRMAN, DNC RULES COMMITTEE: Thank you, Governor Dean, for your leadership as chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Dr. Dean, for the healing of unit that I know you're bringing to this party, right now starting today. Thank you very, very much.

We want to reiterate or welcome to everybody who is here in Washington with us and all those who are across the street, in the overflow room, outside, and watching us on television. We know that many of you came by many forms of transportation, from buses to the metro, on foot. The determination of everybody to be here today is a testament to the important business that we have before us.

Many of us who are here around this table and have been doing this sort of work for the Democratic Party for a long time, do remember when nobody noticed. Of course, the crowds that are here today are just a fraction of the energy and enthusiasm that's been on display throughout this entire nominating process.

From the cold days of January when the process kicked off throughout the spring, as Governor Dean has said, record numbers of voters came out to cast their ballots for Democratic candidates. This is good news for our party and for our country in November.

So for any Republicans watching us today and independents watching us today, and thinking this is an example of Democrats divided; we, as co-chairs, suggest that if this many people are going to come out and give up their weekend for a rules committee meeting, watch out, because we're going to be knocking on doors, mobilizing voters for November 4th.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take a quick break. James Roosevelt there with opening comments; James Roosevelt, one of the co-chairmen of this rules committee of the DNC a grandson of the former -- the late president Franklin Roosevelt. Alexis Herman, the other co-chairman.

We'll take a quick break. More of our coverage from the CNN Election Center, "Decision Day" for the Democrats in Washington. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Alexis Herman, the former labor secretary in the Clinton administration. The co-chair of this rules committee of the DNC is now speaking with her opening remarks. We'll listen in.

ALEXIS HERMAN, CO-CHAIR, DNC RULES COMMITTEE: -- which of those states would be moved into this pre-window in January? We notified all of our state party chairs to invite their participation, to meet the criteria that this committee set forth using the framework of the commission as its guide to invite participation.

We had a very competitive process. More than 12 states came forward to this body. They made presentations. They made their recommendations as to why they thought they should be elected. Michigan was also a part of that competition.

In the end, this committee made the decision to move the states of Nevada and South Carolina into that pre-window. We agreed as a part of our recommendation that we wanted to respect the status of the first in the nation primary status for New Hampshire, that we wanted to respect the first in the nation status for the state of Iowa as a caucus. But we did feel that we needed to add an additional state for primary purposes and an additional state for caucus purposes.

So that is how we reached our decision to move the states of Nevada and South Carolina into this pre-window. We knew that we had many states who wanted to participate, but we had to make that tough decision.

And so we are here today because we did, in fact, have two states that did violate that window on timing, that period in our calendar where we said states could not go before February the 5th. The two states that did violate the window on timing were the states of Florida and Michigan.

And so as we meet today, while we believe very strongly that our process as Governor Dean has indicated did lead to one that was spirited, very inclusive, I don't think, as he has indicated, that any of us thought it would literally include all 48 states, but it did. And so here we are to specifically consider the challenges that have been put forward to this body by the states of Michigan and Florida.

We meet to reconsider our discretion under the rule to revisit the sanctions that we imposed. And while we will have a lot of technical discussions today about the nature of those sanctions, the fundamental question on the table is for this committee to revisit its discretions to impose that sanction. And I would remind this body -- I would remind this body that when we made the decision to go to the maximum penalty of 100 percent, we recognize as stated in our rules that the automatic sanction was 50 percent, but we chose to impose a 100 percent penalty for essentially two reasons.

The first, of course, was as I had just indicated. We had a vigorous process by which we made our decision to move two states into the pre-window. And we had many states -- many states that wanted to also violate that timing. This body believed very strongly that we needed to send a very strong signal in order to prevent additional states from moving forward to contribute to additional front loading of the calendar and to protect the integrity of the rules process.

Additionally, our laws also indicate that when there are no delegates at stake, as it was in the case of imposing a 100 percent penalty on delegates, that candidates were actually free to campaign in those states. We recognized it is one of those intricacies in our Democratic rules that require us to set a lot of different standards and thresholds for the definition of campaigning when delegates are at stake.

And so, we made the decision that in having this 100 percent penalty, if you will, that we thought that candidates would be able to campaign in those states. But our primary reason was our concern that we not have any additional front loading, and that we send a very strong signal to the states who did want to move forward.

So with that, we will now move into our discussion on the challenges that have been put before us by these two states. But I think it is important for us as committee to have the background as we proceed with today's deliberations.

ROOSEVELT: I will begin with setting the background with respect to the Florida challenge. And we will then proceed to the presentations of the challenger and the intervening parties regarding Florida. Following that, we will take up Michigan.

So turning to Florida -- last summer the Florida Democratic Party came before this committee and made an impassioned plea to be able to make the January 29, 2008 primary binding in the Democratic Party process. That is to say to allocate delegate positions to presidential candidates --

BLITZER: All right. We're setting the stage now for Florida, one of two states whose delegates are disputed whether or not they'll have a say in determining the Democratic presidential nominee.

We'll take a quick break. We're here at the CNN Election Center monitoring "Decision Day", Washington, D.C. for the Democrats and their presidential nomination. We'll take a quick break. Right after this, we'll continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: James Roosevelt, the co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee's Rules Committee is explaining now the background why Florida's been stripped of its delegates in selecting the Democratic presidential nominee. Going through the historic record right now before we start hearing testimony from representatives in Florida. Let's listen in.

ROOSEVELT: And about the fact that the state party could comply with the rules and face no penalties if it ran an alternative event beginning in March of 2007 before the legislation was even signed into law. After this Rules and Bylaws Committee found Florida in non- compliance last august, the leadership of the DNC continued to have discussions with Florida about holding an alternate event, at one time even offering to pay the cost of an alternate event with an opening figure of spending approximately $880,000 of DNC money. Conversations with Florida officials resumed once again in March of this year when once again the state party and the DNC began talking about ways to structure an alternate event.

Ultimately, the state party concluded that it would be logistically impossible at that time, given the late date, to properly plan and implement an alternate party-run event. That is the background that we come to this meeting with today. We have a challenge with two parts brought to us by a Democratic National Committee member from Florida, Jon Ausman.

HERMAN: And now we will start with the challenge concerning Florida and we would ask Mr. Ausman to please take his seat. When Mr. Ausman filed his challenge concerning Florida's delegation on March 17th, he did not name an adverse party in the challenges.

Accordingly, the circumstances as co-chairs due dictated, quite frankly that we direct this challenge to be given directly to the staff for a review phase mandated by our regulations. After receiving the staff analysis and upon proper reflection we decided to refer the Ausman challenge directly to the full body for resolution.

The Ausman challenge makes two specific claims. An assertion that the Democratic Party's charter requires DNC members, Democratic members of congress and Democratic governors, that they shall automatically be delegates and a claim that a state party's violation of timing could result only -- only -- in a 50 percent pledged delegate reduction. At the heart of both of Mr. Ausman's claims is the difference between this committee and the interpretation of the charter and our rules and bylaws.

Mr. Ausman, we welcome you today. You have been hard at work and on behalf of the committee we really appreciate your diligence and for what you have done to support your state. So we now welcome to hear your challenge.

JON AUSMAN, FLORIDA DNC MEMBER: Madam Chair, point of information.

HERMAN: Point of information.

AUSMAN: My understanding is that both the Obama campaign and the Clinton campaign have intervened in this challenge. Is that correct?

HERMAN: That is correct. Both campaigns have intervened in this challenge. And after Mr. Ausman, we will certainly hear from the representative from the state party of Senator Nelson as well as representatives from both campaigns today for those purposes.

I would remind Mr. Ausman as we have discussed previously that we would like to limit your remarks to 15 minutes. After Mr. Ausman's presentation, we will then go to committee members for questions and answers for ten minutes, and we will then proceed to the next speaker on behalf of the Florida challenge.

John Ausman. Thank you.

Ausman: Madam Chair, Mr. Chair, thank you very much for this opportunity. To the members of this committee, my colleagues and friends, thank you for being willing to come here and to listen to many different voices provide you advice and guidance. We look forward to your considered judgment, which we greatly respect.

Before I start I wanted to recognize the fact that my senior United States Senator Bill Nelson and his wife Grace are here. Former Senator Bob Graham and Adele Graham are here also. We're glad to have her. Bob probably doesn't know that Adele and I have a special relationship. In 1996 we both cast two of Florida's electoral votes for the Democratic president of the United States. So I hope we have another opportunity to do that in 2008.

We have our floor Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman, our DNC members who are sitting behind me, Raul Martinez, Mitch Ceasar, Janee Murphy and Terrie Brady. My wife of 26 years Donna Harper Ausman is here and I'm grateful for her assistance. And we also have some Florida elected officials here, a member of congress, Corrine Brown, State Senator Arthenia Joyner.

Before we go any further, I also want to recognize the authority that this committee has to make the decisions that it has made and possibly revise it. I have great respect and I'm going to accept whatever decision that this committee makes.

The purpose of this presentation is to offer a vehicle by which we can deal with the current issues. And in offering that vehicle, I'm going to provide a different interpretation, perhaps, of the rules. But at the same time I want this to be a healing process that unifies us, that brings us together, that allows us to reason together. That results in collegial bargaining, not confrontation. So that when we leave this room we're all wearing the same blue jerseys so that we can go after the Republicans in their red jerseys in November.

What the appeals want are 23 charter delegates, sometimes known at superdelegates; that they shall be delegates in the Democratic national convention and be given full votes at delegates. What this appeal wants is 185 pledged delegates that they should be subject only to the 50 percent reduction penalty.

Please note, we're not arguing for 100 percent. We recognize that Florida has, in fact, violated the timing rule. And we accept as the challenger that that penalty is appropriate.

This appeal does not cover in any way, shape or form the three unpledged delegates. This appeal which was written in March, never mentioned it, and we're not here to discuss those three delegates. That's beyond the scope of this appeal. Let me go to appeal one, that the charter delegates shall be delegates. The charter of the Democratic Party of the United States was adopted by two-thirds vote of the members of the Democratic National Committee with proper previous notice. And that charter was amended to allow certain people to be charter delegates at the national conventions.

The charter is the constitution of our party. It's the supreme document by which we are governed. In article 10, section 3 of the charter, it says, and let me PowerPoint --

BLITZER: We're going to break away momentarily. We'll take a quick break, Jon Ausman presenting his case why all of the Florida superdelegates should be seated and have a full vote at the Democratic convention, but the pledged or elected delegates should be stripped, and should only have half a vote.

We'll continue to monitor and continue our coverage of "Decision Day" right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jon Ausman, a Florida superdelegate, is making the case why all of Florida's superdelegates should be seated at the Democratic convention. Half of the pledged or elected delegates should be seated.

They seem to be getting closer to some sort of compromise on Florida, but, by all accounts, a much more difficult problem facing the Democratic National Committee's rules committee involving the state of Michigan.

This hearing -- this committee meeting has just started this morning. We're watching it very closely left part of your screen.

On the right part of your screen you see Hillary Clinton. She's campaigning today in Puerto Rico. Tomorrow the Puerto Rico primary takes place. She's hoping for a big win to try to send another message to the still undecided superdelegates that she might be a more formidable challenger to John McCain in November than Barack Obama.

This is an important day for the Democrats to see if they can get their act together and go unified into the Democratic national convention, or whether or not they will continue to be plagued by challenges and potentially even lawsuits.

Campbell Brown is here with the best political team on television. As Jon Ausman makes his case before the rules committee, Campbell, you're getting a sense, I think, that they may be half way there, but not 100 percent there?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I think you're absolutely right. I think this is going to go on for much of the day. I want to -- I've got the panel back with me now, Wolf. And let me re-introduce everybody and I'll get everyone's general take. We'll start down with Lisa Caputo who's here with us, and I should mention that Lisa is a Hillary Clinton supporter. Ron Kirk is with us as well. who is a supporter of Barack Obama. Jeff Toobin, our own CNN analyst. Suzanne Malveaux, working the phones doing a little reporting. She'll be with us shortly.

But I know we've only see the beginning of this so far. What's your take already, Lisa?

LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, I think it would behoove the Democratic Party try and get this resolved. And I think the -- Florida will get resolved. I think the big issue is going to be Michigan, because what you have in Michigan is a situation where you had 40 percent of the vote go uncommitted.

Now, the Obama allies actively campaigned for that in Michigan -- to cast those votes -- but the question is, what of that 40 percent uncommitted are really Obama supporters? And I think that's the real issue here.

I think the other issue here, and Jeff raised this earlier, and we really should talk about, is, we're in this mix because of Iowa and New Hampshire demanding to go first. And when the rules and bylaws committee met in 2006 when they adopted these rules there was a voice vote on this whole situation, and the folks from New Hampshire were the ones in the room casting the voice vote.

So it really does cast a real question on: what's the future of the process for the Democratic primaries? And whether or not Iowa and New Hampshire should really be these first two states and along with Nevada and South Carolina going before February 5th?

CAMPBELL: And Jeff, she has a good point. This is about, in terms of the future of the Democratic Party, a lot more than what's happening today.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, Lisa in characteristically restrained tone pointed -- says -- I mean what really happens here is that we have an absurd and insane and ridiculous system where Iowa and New Hampshire preempt the entire process.

And the whole Democratic National Committee's struggle was try to both accommodate Iowa and New Hampshire...

CAMPBELL: And rein in.

TOOBIN: ... and try to rein them in a little bit. And what they -- the compromise was, well, we're going to add Nevada and South Carolina to the early mix. That's what the compromise was. In fact, it didn't work out, because Florida and Michigan also jumped ahead and have now been punished, and we're dealing with the implications of that punishment today.

But in any sort of fair-minded system you would think that the same two seats -- states, which are not representative of the country at large, would not have such an outside role, but this -- the DNC was incapable of reining them in.

And frankly, I don't see that they're going to be any more able to rein them in in the future.

CAMPBELL: You see this debate continuing, I mean, beyond -- once we get beyond this phase of the process? I mean we got to be thinking about four years from now.

RON KIRK, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, you know, I think it's an issue only when you have two candidates that are capable of bringing this kind of enthusiasm to the table. I mean, with all due respect, with some of the people that we've nominated in the past, it wouldn't matter what order the contests are in. The elections are usually over.

I mean this is an exceptional year...

CAMPBELL: Ron has...

KIRK: ... because...

CAMPBELL: ...a good point there.

KIRK: ... of the two candidates involved. You know, and people that have argued, well, if it was any other man or any other woman, it wouldn't matter. If they didn't have the political skills, the attraction, the excitement that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have brought to the table, we wouldn't be here.

This makes this a fairly unique circumstance. But I do want to say one thing. And look, I'm from a big state that always complains about if we have to come after Iowa, New Hampshire...

CAMPBELL: Right.

KIRK: ... and the election's settled. But the other hand, I will say Iowa and New Hampshire make it possible for an unknown like Barack Obama or Howard Dean or Bill Clinton, to go engage and retell politics and get attention they otherwise wouldn't get, because the flip side, we go to some super inflated primary system.

It very much weights the gain to big ticket political insiders with a lot of money, and if you're worried about women and minorities being able to play in this game, one way to make sure we don't do that is change the rules of the game so that it favors only the wealthy and those political insiders.

TOOBIN: The New Hampshire people have gotten to Kirk. You know, it's just -- it's just a scary thing.

KIRK: No, but -- but you can also make an argument this year -- I would say, look, the system's also worked because this year Texas was in play and North Carolina was in play.

TOOBIN: That is true. KIRK: And Georgia was in play. I mean we didn't see it, but we got an exciting race, and the bottom line, when it's this exciting, it hurts that somebody has to lose. You know? It's tough.

TOOBIN: That is true.

CAPUTO: That's why you see the Clinton campaign arguing for the popular vote, because it was Puerto Rico happens tomorrow...

CAMPBELL: Right.

CAPUTO: Right? If she wins by a huge margin that fuels the fire for the popular vote argument. And then, God forbid, it resurrects memories of the presidential race in...

KIRK: Yes, and (INAUDIBLE)

CAPUTO: ... 2000 that went to the Supreme Court.

CAMPBELL: All right. Hold on one second. We just want to remind viewers right now that -- there is a formal presentation going on now with regard to the Florida vote. When this formal presentation wraps up there is going to be Q&A and we'll bring you the Q&A in totality when that happens.

We're going to take a quick break. We will be back with a lot more including the best political team on television, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AUSMAN: Also in Robert's rules it says that the bylaws authorized...

CAMPBELL: Welcome back, everybody. You are watching right now live the DNC rules committee meeting. That's Jon Ausman who is making a formal presentation for Florida, on behalf of Florida, trying to get their delegates seated.

We want to come back to our political panel and to CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux who has been doing reporting and has a little information for us on a possible compromise being talked about with regard to Michigan.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. There are two things that are on table that are probably going to come up this afternoon. Obviously, they're talking about 50/50 split between Obama and Clinton, but there's something else that they feel that the problem is its uncommitted delegates. What do you do with the uncommitted delegates?

So what they're thinking of doing is, if you can get Biden, Richardson and Edwards, the three others candidates who took they're name off of the ballot like Obama, essentially to call in and say, yes, we agree, this should all go to Obama, that 40 percent that went to uncommitted, that that would be a possible solution to this. And literally, the source, my DNC sources involved in negotiations said how would that happen? How would you do that?

You know, they would likely pick up the phone and say, Richardson, Edwards, Biden, is this something that you think is agreeable? Do you think it's OK? And that the uncommitted would go to Obama. And that's about that 40 percent split.

CAMPBELL: Now how far along are they? Have phone calls been made or...

MALVEAUX: Not yet. Phone calls have not yet been made, but this is something that they are thinking about putting out on the table this afternoon.

TOOBIN: The -- I'm sorry.

MALVEAUX: Yes, I mean there's the -- there's a 50/50 split, which there are three shy votes away from for Michigan, to divide them equally, and then this other alternative proposal, which would be, if we get the other guys onboard say, OK, all of this goes to Obama, is that agreeable to you? That's something that would be acceptable to the Obama team as well.

TOOBIN: The Democratic National Committee staff put out a memo earlier this week going through various possibilities. One thing that is a possible fly in the ointment there is that there does appear to be something in the rules that says, if delegates are pledged uncommitted, they have to stay uncommitted.

So giving the uncommitted to Obama...

CAMPBELL: Right.

TOOBIN: ... is a complex that is -- is going to be something...

CAMPBELL: All right. Let me interrupt for a second, guys, because David Ausman just wrapped up and they're about to take questions so -- or -- yes, the committee's beginning again.

Let's listen in.

DAVID MCDONALD, DNC RULES COMMITTEE MEMBER: ... that says that the penalty is that charter delegates are not permitted to serve as delegates. I see language that says they're not permitted to vote. Where -- I have two questions. Actually, really three, but you can answer them all at once. I don't find any language in the charter that says delegate equals vote.

I don't find any language in the rules that we're enforcing that says that charter delegates are not permitted to serve and I don't find any provision any where that says a charter delegate or a superdelegate has immunity from rules that applied to the other delegates.

So exactly what is the basis for your assertion that there is no ability of this committee to reduce the vote of a chartered delegate? Putting aside whether the motion was properly worded. I'm just trying to get to the legal authority of your arguments.

The charter says very specifically that we shall be delegates. There's no language in the charter which authorizes the removal of a superdelegate or charter delegate as a delegate. And there's no language in the charter that says specifically that you can diminish that.

AUSMAN: The assumption is, and I don't think that's a gross assumption is, that a delegate equals a vote.

MCDONALD: Does that -- one follow-up question. Does that mean that we -- that the effect of your challenge would be to upgrade the votes of all the people who presently only have partial votes under the existing rules, American Samoa, Democrats abroad?

Are there some rules for charter delegates and not the same set of rules for other delegates?

AUSMAN: That's an interesting question but it's beyond the scope of this appeal. But I say to you, I know what the charter says in that Florida delegates and you and I, State senators and united representatives, have full votes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don Fowler?

DONALD FOWLER, S.C. OBAMA SUPERDELEGATE: Madam Chair, I want to assert categorically that Mr. Ausman's interpretation of the language creating the so-called superdelegates, the automatic unpledged delegates, is totally incorrect.

There is nothing in any of the legislative history from the Winograd Commission, the Hunt Commission or Fairness Commission that suggest that these automatic unpledged delegates have any special privilege, any distinction or power or protection that other delegates -- over and above other delegates.

Indeed, if you look at the history of the evolution of the so- called superdelegates, this language was made as strong as it was in order to ensure that the superdelegates would have the same, not more, not in addition to, but the same prerogatives and the same power as the delegates that are elected in the normal process of the delegates selection process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Fowler.

Alan Katz?

ALAN KATZ, FLORIDA SUPERDELEGATE: Thank you. First of all, Jon, I'd like to welcome you here and as someone who can -- ultimately will not be allowed to vote on the Florida challenge, I figured at least did ask you a question or two.

I think that -- if I understand what you're saying -- that the challenge basically says give us half of our delegates and in one iteration or another. I also know that you are the -- someone who spent a lot of times looking at the rules, as we've heard this morning, whatever the ultimate determination and interpretation may be.

But walk with me for a moment and make sure I understand this. If we took in what you would deem a literal interpretation of the rules which was that 50 percent penalty was the maximum penalty that could have been imposed, when we did it back in August, and we now fast-forward to where we are today, where we have an event that took place and the question is how we allocate assuming we were at half the votes.

Would you first reduce the number of delegates and then apply the results? Or, do you act as if there was 100 percent participation by the delegates that -- in other words, the action which you're coming here to sort of -- actually sort of say is, as I understand it, it's OK.

Wouldn't have taken place and then we'd come in after the fact? Because as everyone here, I think, understands, because of the rules of proportion representation it does affect the ultimate determination is that if this committee acts to reinstate some Florida delegates, the margins of difference is going to be dependent upon how we apply this.

So I would like your view of that from a rule perspective.

AUSMAN: Certainly. Before I get to that, Allan, let me go back to my good friend Don. It's that, when the charter says you shall be a delegate, I'm respectful of the legislative history. Both the body (INAUDIBLE) by a two-thirds vote very specific language saying that certain people shall be automatic delegates or superdelegates.

We're not saying we have more. You're actually reducing other people from a position, but let me go to Allan's question. Allan asked an interesting question I want to provide two charts for your consideration. I apologize for -- for some of the people who may not be able to see this.

This is a poll that was done by the Public Policy Group in April of last -- well, last month. And it says, "Do you support the appeal before the DNC rules and bylaws committee? They repeal as punishment and seat half the delegates, by the way." So in other word, basically, they ask the question that I'm asking you to do about seating half the delegates.

In Florida among Democrats, 62 percent of the folks said, yes. They support this appeal and they recognize your authority to penalize us 50 percent, 38 percent, no. I won't read the Michigan numbers.

But for those who voted Clinton in Florida, it's 72-28. Obama, 51-48. And those who voted for Edwards, 56-44. So there's pretty broad support for this committee to reduce us 50 percent as appropriate in the timing penalty. Alan asked me this question, which is basically how do we allocate delegates.

And this chart, which I hope you all received copies of them, which if you don't I brought more, just in case, provides for four potential alternatives. It provides for -- if every delegate was allocated, which would mean that Hillary Clinton would receive 38 more delegates, 105 delegates to Barack Obama's 67, and John Edwards would receive 13.

If you look at the results and then reduce the delegation, Hillary Clinton's numbers would drop roughly to 19 more. You know, it's the half. And then what Alan's asking is, the question is, do you reduce the delegation before you know the results, if on August 25th this committee, instead of using its discretionary authority, which is under challenge here at this point, but instead say the penalty is 50 percent, what would the result have been?

Because in congressional districts 8 and 9 in Florida, which were allocated four delegates, Clinton carried three and Obama carried one. But if you had imposed the penalty on August 25th, there would only have been two delegates allocated the congressional districts 8 and 9, and because Obama at least hit the threshold, he would get one and Clinton would get one.

So just in those two congressional districts by imposing the penalty on August 25th you would reduce the Clinton net gain of four. But you didn't do that. And now the question is, do you want to go back in time and pretend that's what's happened, or do you want to go back and say, we now know the results, let's impose the penalty, which I know is the choice of most Floridians.

I think you're going to hear that from Senator Bill Nelson and that's the position of the Florida Democratic Party. But it's up to the members of this committee to make a decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much. We will entertain one more question and then we will move to the next speaker, and I'm going to recognize Erick Kleinfeld.

ERIC KLEINFELD, D.C. CLINTON SUPERDELEGATE: Thank you.

Jon, I want to compliment you on the thoroughness of your review of the rules and I would like to ask you a technical rules question, and then a broader question.

With respect to your first challenge, could you provide your thoughts on the specific language -- excuse me -- of article 2, section 4? In one subsection the language says, "shall provide," the use of the word provide, "with respect to the members of the Democratic National Committee." In a later subsection the language is "shall permit with respect to other charter delegates."

My question to you is what are your thoughts on the difference in the words provide and permit in this context of the charter and in the context of your challenge?

And then my broader second question, just real quickly, is whether you could comment on the equity of treating charter delegates differently from pledged delegates, if that's what this committee determines to do.

Thank you. AUSMAN: The question is, shall provide or shall permit. Shall provide to me is mandatory. Shall permit is discretionary. So for some of the charter delegates, you do have a degree of discretion. For the members of the Democratic National Committee, you have no discretion, in my opinion.

The question then becomes, you know, do we want to have equity. I mean I understand the egalitarian nature of Democrats that we don't want to create different groups of people and we don't want to give, let's say, DNC members full votes and then give 185 pledged delegates half votes.

You have the discretion to give 185 full votes. That would be an acceptable solution. Florida has well been punished. We have not seen presidential candidates in our state. We do not have a say like every other state has had. We've been hurt and we've been hurt badly. We've been shun.

You can go to "The Washington Post," "New York Times," any Web site right now, click Florida, how many delegates they have, the answer is zero. You know, we've been hit hard by Republicans and we've been hit hard by Republicans for more than 100 years.

You might recall in 1876 the Republicans stole three electoral votes from Florida that made Rutherford president instead of Tillman. The Republicans have been doing this a long time. They did it in 2008 and they're doing it now. We're actually responding to a Republican game.

We need to end that. We have suffered horribly.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jon, we -- we thank you so much for your very thorough and comprehensive presentation, and I personally thank you for the more than 100 e-mails that you...

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take another quick break and continue our special coverage from the CNN Election Center. The "DECISION DAY" for the Democrats.

Remember, CNNpolitics.com is also where you can be watching and streaming what's going on. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're back here at the CNN Election Center, watching "DECISION DAY" in Washington, D.C.

The Democratic National Committee has to decide what to do with the disputed delegates from Michigan and Florida. There's Senator Bill Nelson, who's speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party of Florida. He's going to be testifying or making his case before the rules committee. Thirty members out to determine what to do with the delegates at stake, 211 delegates from Florida, 157 delegates from Michigan. Hillary Clinton is anxious to see those delegates seated so that she would presumably have a little bit better chance to make her case to the superdelegates.

Let's listen in to Senator Nelson.

SEN. BILL NELSON, FLORIDA: Chairman Roosevelt, members of the committee, needless to say I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be here and make the presentation on behalf of the Florida Democratic Party, and I want to thank the hundreds of Floridians who'd come a long way up here in support of the right to vote.

(APPLAUSE)

NELSON: And Jon in his excellent presentation has already recognized a number of our congressional delegation and DNC members. Two more that I would like to recognize, Congressman Rob Wexler, who will be making one of the presentations.

(APPLAUSE)

NELSON: And state representative Joyce Cusack who is the state Democratic leader pro tempore.