Clinton beats ‘undecided’ in Michigan

While debating her chief rivals hundreds of miles away Tuesday night, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) won a victory of sorts in the Michigan primary.

Shortly after the polls closed in Michigan, Clinton was projected to win a convincing contest against “undecided.” After the Democratic National Committee (DNC) stripped the state of all of its delegates, Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaIt's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose Assange hit with 17 new charges, including Espionage Act violations Progressive commentator says Obama was delusional thinking he could work with Republicans MORE (Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) withdrew from the ballot in the Wolverine State.

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By remaining on the ballot, Clinton had little to win and a lot to lose.

Because the state had no delegates and the Democratic candidates all pledged not to campaign in a state that had been so penalized by the DNC, Clinton’s win in Michigan comes with no real benefits.

However, because she was running alone, there was some question of whether the New York senator might be embarrassed by supporters of Edwards and Obama who went to the polls and selected undecided.

While Clinton appeared to avoid that embarrassment, her empty win in Michigan sparked another skirmish between Clinton’s and Obama’s campaigns, with both camps distributing memos containing thinly veiled accusations.

Obama’s team took the first swing late Tuesday afternoon after it distributed a memo suggesting that Clinton might be considering going back on her pledge not to campaign in penalized states, saying there was reason to believe that Clinton planned to campaign in Florida before the Jan. 29 primary.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in the memo that Clinton has scheduled a fundraiser in Florida for Jan. 27, and “there are signs – despite Senator Clinton’s public pledge to the contrary – that she may be planning to campaign in the state – inquiring about large venues and increased organizing activity – ahead of the Florida primary.”

The Clinton campaign acknowledged it has planned two “small” fundraisers in South Florida on Jan. 27, adding that Obama has also raised money in the state “as explicitly allowed by the pledge.”

The Clinton campaign also fired back Tuesday night, shortly before the Democrats were set to square off in their debate in Las Vegas, by pointing to reports that Obama’s supporters and allies made a push for “undecided” in Michigan despite Obama’s pledge not to campaign there.

“Make no mistake — the Obama campaign had no problems when its supporters and allies in Michigan ran radio ads and other campaign activities urging people to vote for ‘uncommitted’ as a way to register their support for Senator Obama — and to give him a chance to compete for those delegates at the national convention,” the Clinton campaign said in the release.  “Now, with polls in recent days showing that effort and their candidate running far behind in both states, the Obama campaign has shifted tactics to say that those who cast a vote in either state don’t matter.  We couldn’t disagree more.”

Despite the Clinton campaign’s reiteration that it would not compete in Michigan or Florida or that she essentially won a one-person race – former Sen. Mike Gravel (Alaska) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) were also on the ballot – the senator’s campaign manager still sent out a victory email.

“Tonight Michigan Democrats spoke loudly for a new beginning,” Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle said in a statement. “You spoke out for an economy that would honor the middle class, not punish it. You spoke out for a president who will fight to create good paying jobs at a time when so many families are struggling to make ends meet. You spoke out for an end to the war in Iraq. You spoke out for a quality, affordable health care system that works for all Americans.”