Clinton Defends Michigan Ballot Stand

The Associated Press
Thursday, October 11, 2007; 4:21 PM

CONCORD, N.H. -- Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton said it would be foolish to take her name off Michigan's primary ballot and sacrifice her chances against the Republican nominee.

As the only top tier Democrat remaining on Michigan ballot, Clinton is all but guaranteed to win the state's primary. Michigan is tentatively slated to send 156 delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, but national party officials have threatened to take away those delegates if the state persists in holding its primary on Jan. 15.

"It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything," Clinton said Thursday during an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio's call-in program, "The Exchange." "But I just personally did not want to set up a situation where the Republicans are going to be campaigning between now and whenever, and then after the nomination, we have to go in and repair the damage to be ready to win Michigan in 2008."

Speaking in the first primary state, Clinton said she understands concerns about her refusal. Rivals Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden took their names off Michigan's Jan. 15 primary ballot this week, and Michigan's hope for nominating clout all but evaporated.

Clinton's comment reflects an optimism she will win her party's nomination to face the Republican nominee in November 2008. She said any snub to Michigan could hurt her _ and all Democrats' _ chances to defeat the Republicans there.

Clinton was prompted by a caller who said, "It strikes me that this is politics as usual, where politicians say one thing and do something else."

Clinton brushed aside the comment.

"I did not believe it was fair to just say, 'Goodbye Michigan' and not take into account the fact we're going to have to win Michigan if we're going to be in the White House in January 2009," she said.

The Democratic presidential candidates already had pledged not to campaign in Michigan because the state had broken Democratic National Committee rules by scheduling its primary ahead of Feb. 5. The rules ban states from holding their 2008 contests before Feb. 5, except Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The candidates are allowed to visit Michigan to raise money and can send their spouses to campaign, but they can't run advertisements, hold rallies or do most of the other things that would help give them a leg up on their opponents.

Clinton said she wouldn't campaign there, but isn't about to hurt her own chances.

"If you look at the some of the states we have to win, the margins have been narrow. And it wasn't, in my view, meaningful, but I'm not going to say there's an absolute, total ignoring of the people in all these other states that won't come back to haunt us if we're not careful about it."

© 2007 The Associated Press