Democrats reach pact on vexed Michigan, Florida delegate vote issue

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Washington, June 1 : Democratic Party leaders on Saturday agreed to seat Michigan and Florida delegates with half votes at this summer's convention with a compromise that left Barack Obama on the verge of the nomination but riled Hillary Rodham Clinton backers who threatened to fight to the August convention.

The Clinton's camp maintains that she is entitled to four additional Michigan delegates.

The decision by the party's Rules Committee raised slightly the total delegates Obama needs to clinch the nomination. Clinton advisers conceded privately he will hit the magic number after the final primaries are held on Tuesday night, but said the ruling threatened to dash any hopes of a unified party.

The resolution increased the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination to 2,118, leaving Obama just 66 delegates away from the majority needed to secure the nomination.

"Our main goal is to get this resolved so we can focus on winning Michigan and Florida," Obama said while campaigning in South Dakota.

"There were compromises. ... I'm glad the DNC worked it through and I hope we can start focusing on substance as opposed to process," he added.

The deal was reached after committee members deliberated for nine hours, including three where they met privately and argued fiercely over their eventual deal, according to party insiders.

They voted in front of a raucous hotel ballroom that frequently interrupted proceedings and reflected deep divisions within the party.

Clinton advisers said no decisions had been made, and it was still possible that Hillary Clinton would bow out once Obama goes over the top.

Clinton and her supporters wanted the Michigan and Florida delegations fully restored, according to January primaries that she won. But those contests were not recognized by the party because they were held too early, and both candidates agreed at the time they would not count.

But as Clinton tried to catch up to Obama's delegate lead, she has argued that the votes of the 2.3 million people who participated in the elections must be recognized. Obama supporters argued that they did compromise by allowing her to take the majority of delegates in two contests where he didn't campaign. The sticking point was Michigan, where Obama's name was not on the ballot.

The deal was passed 19-8.

There are three primaries left in the contest - Puerto Rico on Sunday and Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday. Obama should get at least 30 delegates in the remaining primaries, meaning he has to pick up no more than about 30 more super delegates even if he loses Puerto Rico and South Dakota.

He will not clinch the nomination this weekend, barring a barrage of super delegates Sunday.

The committee also unanimously agreed to seat the Florida delegation based on the outcome of the January primary, with 105 pledged delegates for Clinton and 67 for Obama, but with each delegate getting half a vote as a penalty.

Obama picked up a total of 32 delegates in Michigan, including super delegates who have already committed, and 36 in Florida. Clinton picked up 38 in Michigan, including super delegates, and 56.5 in Florida.

According to the Associated Press, Obama's total increased to 2,052, and Clinton's 1,877.5, while NBC News said Obama had 2,055.5 votes as opposed to Clinton's 1,880.

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