Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean urged Florida and Michigan party officials to come up with plans to repeat their presidential nominating contests so that their delegates can be counted.
"All they have to do is come before us with rules that fit into what they agreed to a year and a half ago, and then they'll be seated," Dean said during a round of interviews Thursday on network and cable TV news programs.
The two state parties will have to find the funds to pay for new contests without help from the national party, Dean said.
"We can't afford to do that. That's not our problem. We need our money to win the presidential race," he said. The DNC offered to pay for an alternative contest in Florida last summer but was turned down, officials at the party say.
Officials in Michigan and Florida are showing renewed interest in holding repeat presidential nominating contests so that their votes will count in the epic Democratic campaign.
The Michigan governor, top officials in Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign, and Florida's state party chair all are now saying they would consider holding a sort of do-over contest by June. That's a change from the previous insistence from officials in both states that the primaries they held in January should determine how their delegates are allocated.
Clinton campaign communications director Howard Wolfson said in a conference call with reporters Thursday that it's hard to envision a scenario where the Florida and Michigan delegations are not seated at the conventions.
That would send a "very unsettling signal to the people of those states," Wolfson said.
Asked whether the campaign favored a caucus over a primary if the states had a do-over, he said it would be premature to comment on any particular one at this point.
Clinton won both contests, but the results were meaningless because the elections violated national party rules.
"We believe that vote ought to count," Wolfson said.
The Democratic National Committee stripped both states of all delegates for holding the primaries too early, and all Democratic candidates — including Clinton and rival Barack Obama — agreed not to campaign in either state. Obama's name wasn't even on the Michigan ballot.
Florida and Michigan moved up their dates to protest the party's decision to allow Iowa and New Hampshire to go first, followed by South Carolina and Nevada, giving them a disproportionate influence on the presidential selection process.
But no one predicted the race would still be very close at this point in the year.
"The rules were set a year and a half ago," Dean said. "Florida and Michigan voted for them, then decided that they didn't need to abide by the rules. Well, when you are in a contest you do need to abide by the rules. Everybody has to play by the rules out of respect for both campaigns and the other 48 states."