From NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
MISSOULA, MT -- Bill Clinton today made an expanded and direct argument for seating Florida and Michigan delegates, suggesting his wife is being punished and arguing that Obama's campaign opposed a re-vote.
"I never thought it would be the Democratic Party that didn't want to count votes in Florida," he said at a rally at the University of Montana. "I thought that was a Republican strategy -- or strategery as the case may be. And I just ask you all this, do you really believe Florida would be getting this kind of treatment if the vote had turned out the other way?"
For more than six minutes, Clinton went through the timeline of how both states lost their delegates, and who was to blame. While he has made the case before, he placed new emphasis on it today, as it becomes clearer that seating the delegates from both states is one of the few remaining options to help Hillary Clinton defeat Obama.
"Hillary offered a revote in Michigan; we offered a revote in Florida," Clinton said. "In both cases, the other campaign said, 'Nope, no re-vote, we will just see what to do when this thing is over.' Why would we put Michigan at risk and pretend that these people didn't show up and pretend that somehow she is responsible and the voters themselves are responsible and she should be punished for what intermediaries did?"
Clinton said the removal of Florida and Michigan had a "superficial element of fairness" because Obama and John Edwards took their name off the ballot. But, he added, they did that because Hillary Clinton was ahead in the polls and there was a "very organized and funded campaign to get everyone to vote uncommitted." However, Clinton herself said last fall that the Michigan contest was "not going to count for anything."
"So if we are gonna decide a closely held contest, it shouldn't be decided with those kind of tactics and those kind of principles," he said. "This should be a great empowerment election, and how ironic it would be, if after so many people have been empowered through internet giving and active participation, if the thing would be decided by the most disempowering top-down, and I think mindless decision I can recall in a month of Sundays."