Dean says DNC won’t pay for Fla., Mich. ‘do-overs’

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean on Thursday said the Democratic National Committee would not pay for repeat primaries in Florida and Michigan, which have been stripped of their delegates for violating internal rules.

“We can’t afford to do that,” Dean stated on CBS’s “Early Show.” “That’s not our problem. We need our money to win the presidential race.”

The party chairman made the rounds on the morning talk shows to put a happy face on a primary situation that many feel could hurt the party in the general election. It is becoming increasingly unlikely that either candidate for the Democratic nomination will get enough pledged delegates to clinch the party’s presidential nod ahead of the convention, which means that the so-called superdelegates would tip the scales in favor of either Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

Dean said the lack of a decided Democratic nominee at a time when Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) has sealed the deal on the Republican side is beneficial to the Democrats.

“The fact of the matter is that our candidates have now had 25 million people come out and vote for them,” Dean said on NBC’s “Today Show.” “That’s unheard of. And they’re going to end up campaigning in virtually every single state. So our folks will have an advantage, having had that kind of vigorous scrutiny in front of the voters.”

In addition to the potential headaches that could arise from not having a nominee until the convention, Dean also has to deal with the issue of Florida and Michigan delegates. Those state’s governors, Charlie Christ (R) and Jennifer Granholm (D), on Wednesday asked that the delegates be seated at the convention.

Dean said this outcome could happen in one of two ways.

“One, they can come before the DNC rules committee and submit a process that does comply with the rules, that is fair to both campaigns and the other states; or they can simply appeal their denial to the credentials committee at the convention,” Dean told CBS. “One of those choices is a good choice. We’d love to see Florida and Michigan, but it’s going to be done within the rules.”

Dean also expressed his hope that the race will not get “nastier” and indicated that the party would “have discussions” with the campaigns about that issue.

With regard to the superdelegates, the party chairman indicated that they should “go and vote the way they think they should vote, just like every other delegate will do.”

“My goal is to have the half of the people who supported the losing candidate believe this process was a fair process,” Dean said on NBC, adding, “I am happy as long as the rules are followed. That includes the rules about superdelegates and that includes the rule about every state doing what they said they were going to do a year and a half ago. If everybody does that, we’re going to have a fair nominating convention, and that’s what I care about.”