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Superdelegate Discusses Hillary's Chances of Seating Michigan, Florida Delegates

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"If you're running behind, you need to shuffle the deck a bit," David McDonald said Wednesday of Hillary Clinton's strategy to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida.

"Michigan could and probably will decide to hold a process that complies with DNC rules and elect a slate of delegates that could potentially sit at the convention," he told a University of Washington journalism class. "The rules committee would have a hard time saying no if they wanted to go forward with that."

McDonald is not just a Washington state superdelegate; he is also a member of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. He was the first speaker to cross-examine Florida before stripping the state of its delegates and the person who motioned to strip Michigan of its delegates. McDonald is one of 30 people on the rules committee who could decide whether or not to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates.

This situation has all the ingredients to be explosive.

According to CNN.com, Michigan has 156 original delegates and Florida has 210. Clinton is trailing behind Barack Obama in delegates as he rips through the country on a big winning streak, and she announced last month her desire to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates.

How did the two states get themselves in trouble in the first place?

Here's the set-up: Michigan and Florida decided not to play by Democratic National Committee rules and chose to hold their primaries before Feb. 5. The DNC, in turn, stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates. Hillary Clinton "won" both states, but Barack Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan and both candidates had agreed not to campaign in either state.

With the race for the Democratic nomination so tight and the candidates fighting for every last delegate, the battle to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates could get ugly.

CNN.com reports that Obama would be content if the DNC were to organize caucuses in the two states to select delegates, but the Clinton camp would protest:

"If there's a way of organizing something in those states where both Sen. Clinton and I can compete and we have enough time to make our case before the voters there, then that would be fine," Obama has said.

Clinton supporters, meanwhile, say that's unfair.

"You can't undo an election with a caucus, and especially you can't undo an election where 1.7 million Florida Democrats have gone to vote in a secret ballot and replace it with a caucus ... [where] maybe 50,000 people would show up," said Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida.

McDonald said he wouldn't respond well if Clinton wanted to seat delegates based on the contests that already took place in the two states.

"If she makes the motion to allocate 'beauty contest' delegates, she will not get support from me," he said. "If she gives [the states] a chance to comply with rules, I will consider it, but they were given 30 days to comply already."

McDonald said Michigan has a better shot at running a contest that would comply with DNC rules than Florida.

"Michigan already had an approved delegate plan for Feb. 9," he explained. It was to be a "firehouse primary," in which people could vote by Internet or go to a local firehouse to cast their votes. McDonald said Michigan could go forward with that plan sometime in the next few months.

Florida is in a much different situation.

"Florida said that they can't afford to re-do it and a caucus would be tough to set up," McDonald revealed. "We offered to help finance them to set up the first time."

Also, Florida Democrats did not take the punishment well and sued the DNC.

Even if Michigan and Florida could clean up their acts and comply with DNC rules, would it be fair to allow their delegates to count?

"That's why I'm saying I wouldn't necessarily approve it," McDonald said. "But at some point you have to start healing wounds. They broke the rules and got a pretty severe punishment."

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