The Associated Press is reporting that the Clinton campaign “has raised the possibility of a challenge to ‘ primary and caucus rules,” and the state party has responded with “a warning against legal action.”
Obama strategists support the party’s warning, and, according to the AP, are “suggesting the Clinton campaign was trying to block the reporting of caucus results.”
The Clinton threat follows an earlier report that the campaign was, according to AP, “alarmed at the lack of clarity about many of the caucus rules and expressed their concerns on a conference call with Obama’s staff and.”
Among the concerns of the Clinton camp is a provision allowing attendees at a precinct convention to vote to move the location, and the question of whether people who cast provisional ballots (say, because they had forgotten their registration cards) would have their votes counted in the caucus. Still another concern was an automated phone system for precinct chairs to call in the results. The Clinton campaign charged that the party hadn’t trained workers to use the system.
What is going on here? Certainly, the Democratic primary rules are ridiculously complex and antidemocratic to boot. However, the rules have been known for a long time. They are, the AP story points, citing a state Democratic party official, the exact same rules under which Bill Clinton won the Texas caucuses in 1992 and 1996.
But that was then and this is now, and one reason that Clinton is losing is that Obama paid more attention to caucuses than the Clinton campaign, mainly because Clintonites expected to have the nomination wrapped up by Super Tuesday. Of course, that didn’t happen.
More from the AP story:
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the Clinton campaign was trying to minimize the results of the caucuses. The former first lady and her team have made clear their unhappiness with caucuses, believing that they cater to the hard-core party activists who tend to support Obama. The Illinois senator has won 13 caucuses so far, while Clinton has won just two.
“This takes it to a new level, which is they don’t want the people who are participating in those caucuses to have their results reported in a timely fashion. And I assume that’s a very self-serving decision,” Plouffe said.
Texas party officials said they believed Cecil was threatening legal action and wrote a letter to him and to Obama senior strategist Steve Hildebrand reflecting that concern.
“If it is true that litigation is imminent between one or both of your campaigns and the, such action could prove to be a tragedy for a reinvigorated democratic process that is involving a record number of participants here in and across the nation,” party attorney Chad Dunn wrote. “Litigation regarding the TDP could cripple the momentum of a resurging Texas Democratic Party and ultimately the November 2008 election.”
For an anti-Clinton perspective on the challenge, see Glen Smith’s commentary on BurntOrangeReport.