Politics & Government

Out of Bounds! Clinton contradicts party rules — and herself!

WASHINGTON — Throw the flag against: Hillary Clinton.

Call: Intentional grounding (of the rules).

What happened: Clinton suggested Tuesday night that Democratic Party rules require that delegates from Florida and Michigan be seated at the party convention, a move that would help her since she won both uncontested and unsanctioned primaries.

"Under the rules of our party, when you include all 50 states, the number of delegates needed to win is 2,209, and neither of us has reached that threshold yet," she said, disputing the common belief that rival Barack Obama is fast closing in on 2,025 delegates, the smaller number needed to clinch the nomination if Florida and Michigan aren't counted.

Why that's wrong: The party clearly stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates because both states scheduled early primaries in violation of party rules. And Clinton's camp supported that.

The party's Rules and Bylaws Committee voted on Aug. 25, 2007, to strip the renegade states of their delegates. Among those voting yes was Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Clinton.

''I was not acting as an agent for Mrs. Clinton," Ickes said later. ``Those were our rules, and I felt we had an obligation to enforce them.''

Clinton herself also appeared to support the rules.

She signed a pledge days later demanded by other early voting states that she would not campaign in Michigan or Florida. And in an interview with a New Hampshire radio station last October, she acknowledged that the rules meant that Michigan's primary wouldn't count.

"You know, it's clear this election they're having isn't going to count for anything," she said.

She changed her position after winning both primaries and now demands that their delegates be seated.

Penalty: 10 yards and loss of a down; she should stay in whatever out-of-the-way convention hotels the Florida and Michigan delegations are stuck in.