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Democrats Approve Compromise to End Delegate Dispute


Leaders of the Democratic Party have agreed on a compromise they hope will resolve a dispute over presidential primary election votes in the states of Florida and Michigan. As VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington, not all the party leaders accepted the plan.

Democratic Party officials have agreed to let delegates from Florida and Michigan be seated at the party convention, but with only one-half vote each.

The agreement would leave Senator Barack Obama only 66 delegates short of the Democratic presidential nomination, with the final three primaries taking place between Sunday and Tuesday.

The compromise drew an angry reaction from supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton, whose adviser, Harold Ickes, said the Clinton campaign could take the matter to the Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado in August.

"Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the Credentials Committee," Ickes said.

The compromise came after a contentious, day-long, nationally televised meeting of the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee at a Washington hotel.

Both Florida and Michigan had violated party rules by holding their primary elections earlier than allowed. The party disqualified the results of those elections. Clinton won easily in both states, but the two candidates had agreed not to campaign there, and Obama's name was not on the ballot in Michigan.

Democratic Party superdelegate Alice Huffman, who supports Senator Clinton, said she would have preferred that each delegate receive a full vote, but she accepts the compromise.

"The world is not perfect, but it is good," Huffman said. "And when you can come here and you can leave with unity, it is what this party needs, is unity."

Fellow Clinton supporter Harold Ickes said he doubts that this compromise will unify the party.

"There's been a lot of talk about party unity," Ickes said. "Let's all come together, wrap our arms around each other. I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that hijacking four delegates, not withstanding the flawed aspect of this, is not a good way to start down the path of party unity."

Earlier in the day, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said the main goal is to ensure that the party is united as it begins its general election campaign against presumptive Republican nominee Senator John McCain.

"This is not about our candidates," Dean said. "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, restoring our moral authority and healing America at home. That is what this is about."

The final Democratic primaries of the year take place Sunday in the territory of Puerto Rico, and Tuesday in the states of South Dakota and Montana.

Senator Obama plans to signal the start of his general election campaign on Tuesday, by holding a rally in the arena in Saint Paul, Minnesota where the Republican Party will hold its convention.

Meanwhile, Obama has resigned his membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, after inflammatory remarks by his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and more recent controversial remarks about Senator Clinton at the church by a Catholic priest.


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