Taking a Cleaver to Nomination War

Posted March 10, 2008 at 6:37pm

While some Democrats are spinning the protracted fight for the party’s presidential nomination as a healthy exercise in democracy, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.) is telling leaders he views the situation as ultimately detrimental to the party’s chances of winning the White House in November.

[IMGCAP(1)]In a letter to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean last week that his campaign office released on Monday, Cleaver expressed his concern about the growing prospect that the contest between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) will not be decided before the August convention. Cleaver, a Clinton backer, used war analogies to describe the troubles awaiting the party if the contest remains unsettled before the party’s convention in Denver.

“The road to Denver, as it currently exists, is dotted with intra-party explosive devices (IEDs) with the potential to blow away our party’s very real chance to capture the White House,” Cleaver wrote. “If we Democrats could kick those most responsible for our pending troubles, we wouldn’t be able to sit down for months. The Michigan and Florida predicament, which we accommodated, could explode at the convention and cause more casualties than we could imagine.”

Cleaver’s solution is for the chairman to appoint a “Committee of Deans” to study the current situation and recommend a solution within 45 days. The group — which Cleaver believes should serve as negotiators, counselors and advisers — could be composed of party luminaries who are neutral in the race.

A DNC spokeswoman said Monday evening that the committee had not yet received Cleaver’s letter and could not comment.

— Lauren W. Whittington