The rules and bylaws panel of the Democratic National Committee has rejected a proposal by the presidential campaign of Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton that could have made it harder for two of his rivals to get delegates in about a dozen states.
The panel on Tuesday reaffirmed a September ruling that a candidate will be assured of all the delegates he earns in each state's 1992 primary vote, even if he does not have full slates of delegates running on his behalf.
Party rules say a candidate's percentage of Democratic National Convention delegates should equal his percentage of votes in the primary.
If a candidate has only a few delegates on the ballot--not enough to add up to his percentage of the overall vote--current rules say the delegates can be added after the primary. But 11 states, including some delegate-rich states such as Illinois, have no mechanism for carrying out those rules.
Clinton's campaign suggested a rules interpretation under which candidates could have been limited to the number of delegates they had on the primary ballot in those states--even if they were entitled to a larger number. The proposal would have left the decision up to state parties.
But the panel unanimously ruled Tuesday that candidates must be allowed to add delegates to fill out their fair share.
The rule helps candidates who may be financially strapped and poorly organized. In 1984, then-Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) won the New Hampshire and Florida primaries, but former Vice President Walter F. Mondale got more delegates because Hart had not filed full slates of delegates.
Two of Clinton's rivals for the Democratic nomination, Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and former California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., blasted his campaign's action.
Brown, whose statement said representatives of Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's campaign also attended the rules committee meeting, called the move "the New Year's Eve party power grab."
Similarly, Joe Johnson, campaign manager for Wilder, said: "This was a desperate power grab by Gov. Clinton, pure and simple." He accused Clinton of trying "to turn back the clock on the party's nominating procedure . . . . "