DNC Chair: Superdelegates Make Sure Party Leaders Don’t Have to Run Against Grassroots Activists

By Barbara Hollingsworth | February 12, 2016 | 2:16 PM EST
Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton shake hands during the final debate before the 2016 New Hampshire primary. (AP photo)

 

(CNSNews.com) – Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said that although the Democratic Party “wants to give every opportunity to grassroots activists... to participate” in its presidential nomination process, superdelegates “exist... to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists."

Wasserman-Schultz made the comments Thursday in response to a question by CNN’s Jack Tapper on why Hillary Clinton garnered the same number of delegates in the New Hampshire primary as rival Bernie Sanders even though Sanders won 22 percent more of the vote.

“Hillary Clinton lost to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire by 22 percentage points, the biggest victory in a contested Democratic primary there since John F. Kennedy. But it looks as though Clinton and Sanders are leaving the Granite State with the same number of delegates in their pockets because Clinton has the support of New Hampshire’s superdelegates, these party insiders," Tapper said.

“What do you tell voters who are new to the process, who says this makes them feel like it’s all rigged?” Tapper asked Wasserman-Schultz.

“Well, just let me make sure that I can clarify exactly what was available during the primaries in Iowa and in New Hampshire,” she replied.

“The unpledged delegates are a separate category. The only thing available on the ballot in a primary and a caucus is the pledged delegates – those that are tied to the candidate that they are pledged to support, and they receive a proportional number of delegates going in to our convention.

“Unpledged delegates exist, really, to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists,” Wasserman-Schultz explained.

“We are, as a Democratic Party, really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention, so we want to give every opportunity to grassroots activists and diverse committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend, and be a delegate at the convention. So we separate out those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn’t competition between them,” she added.

“I’m not sure that answer would satisfy an anxious young voter, but let’s move on,” Tapper replied.

After the Iowa caucus (which Clinton won by 0.3%), and the New Hampshire primary (which Sanders won by 22.4%), Clinton currently has 394 delegates, compared to Sanders’ 44, according to Bloomberg. It takes a total of 2,382 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

During her interview with Tapper, Wasserman-Schultz also dismissed Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) recent suggestion that the Democratic nominee could be selected at a brokered convention, predicting that her party’s nomination process will be “wrapped up in a timely process through the normal primary schedule.”