Video: Dems want candidate by July 1st?

updated 4/2/2008 1:40:00 PM ET 2008-04-02T17:40:00

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said Wednesday the party was committed to seating Florida's delegates at this summer's convention as long as any agreement is supported by the party's two presidential contenders.

Dean met with Florida lawmakers to discuss ways of allocating delegates among Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton and prepare for the fall campaign in the battleground state.

The party stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates to the national convention in Denver because they ignored party rules and moved their primaries to January.

"We are committed to making sure that we do everything in our power to seat a delegation from Florida," Dean said. "We believe we will seat a delegation from Florida."

But the party chairman said it was critical that Obama and Clinton were "comfortable with the compromises that have to be worked out." The two campaigns did not have representatives at the hourlong meeting.

"It's our hope that the candidates will join us in this effort and without them an agreement is not possible," said Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.

Dean said discussions were continuing over Michigan and he was "optimistic" that the state's delegates would also be seated.

The lawmakers declined to elaborate on the types of options that were discussed for seating the delegates. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Fla., said they spoke about "multiple solutions and formulas that I think are all reasonable."

Michigan and Florida have been unable to reach agreements to redo their primaries. Any alternative vote would have to be completed by June 10 to be counted under DNC rules.

Florida had its 210 delegates stripped for voting in January and a proposal for a mail-in vote in the state collapsed because it lacked support from the party's congressional delegation. The fate of Michigan's 156 national convention delegates remain in limbo after a proposed do-over primary failed to generate enough support in the state legislature.

Dean has said previously that Michigan and Florida have two options: Either submit a new plan for choosing their convention delegates or appeal to the Convention Credentials Committee, which resolves issues about the seating of delegates.

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The Republican Party also penalized the two states for early primaries by cutting their delegate totals in half.

Several Democrats have already floated proposals for seating Florida and Michigan delegates.

Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan congressman proposed Monday in a letter to Dean that the state's delegates be awarded based partly on Michigan's primary results and partly on the popular vote in all the nation's presidential primaries.

Stupak endorsed former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in the primary and has remained neutral since Edwards dropped out of the race in January.

In Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson, who backs Clinton, has suggested seating all Florida delegates already chosen but only giving them half a vote each. Based on the Jan. 29 results in Florida, Clinton would have won 105, Obama 67 and John Edwards 13. Instead they would get half those delegate votes.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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