In a speech to hundreds of her supporters at a retirement home today in Boca Raton, Florida, Hillary Clinton invoked the electoral scandal of Florida in 2000 as part of her last-ditch quest to win the Democratic nomination. (The votes in Florida and Michigan were disqualified because both states violated DNC rules by moving their primary contests to the head of the schedule without permission from the national party organization.)

Senator Clinton said today:

“We believe the popular vote is the truest expression of your will. We believe it today just as we believed it back in 2000 when, right here in Florida, you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren’t counted and a candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner,” Clinton told a crowd at retirement home in Boca Raton. “The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear: if any votes aren’t counted, the will of the people isn’t realized and our democracy is diminished.”

While counting the votes in Florida and Michigan, both states where Clinton won the popular vote, would help her candidacy, Clinton cast her cause in historical and moral terms in a speech that quoted the Declaration of Independence, described the struggle of blacks and women to earn voting rights and invoked the legacies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. And her staging was even more clear, starting off talking to a group of seniors in Palm Beach County, the place known for the so-called dimpled chads and a confusing ballot that resulted in some Democrats voting for Pat Buchanan rather than Al Gore.

“I believe the Democratic Party must count these votes…. count them exactly as they were cast,” she said. “I am here today because I believe the decision our party faces is not just about the fate of these votes and outcome of these primaries, it’s about about whether we will uphold our most fundamental values as Democrats and Americans…. I believe that both Senator Obama and myself have an obligation as potential Democratic nominees, in fact we all have an obligation as Democrats to carry on this legacy to ensure in our nominating process every voice is heard and every vote is counted. This is a core mission of the modern Democratic Party.”

…[I]n a soft, almost pleading voice, she said she believed that “whether you voted for me or Senator Obama or Senator Edwards, each vote is a prayer for our nation.”

I can see the value of overturning the complete stripping of delegates from these states. They should have half-votes as the rules prescribe, not zero votes, and a negotiated apportioning of the delegates and popular vote between the two candidates. Not being allowed to campaign in either state obviously was unfair to the non-Establishment candidate, Obama, and allowed Clinton to win on the basis of her name recognition and Bill’s record alone, but that’s water under the bridge. Allowing both states the opportunity to have a meaningful role in the nomination process is important for voters to buy into the candidacy of the eventual nominee, Obama. Half-votes of the delegates and the additional popular votes will not have significant sway with superdelegates at this point to sway the outcome of the nomination, but will bring both states on board for the fall.

But Hillary’s argument is needlessly inflammatory – conflating the MI/FL situation with Bush/Gore 2000 in Florida? Yikes! Give the party and the country a break, Hillary.

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