March 25th, 2008
05:10 PM ET

Time For A Democratic Peacemaker: Senator George Mitchell

Robert Strauss: Where are you when we need you the most?

The one and only Great Robert Strauss, former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee in the 1970s, Clark Clifford in the 1950s and 1960s, emerged as the senior Democratic Party leader and peace maker in the 1980s and 90s, and also, a trusted advisor of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Now, God bless him, Bob Strauss is in well-deserved semi-retirement and I would guess, respectfully, he is at an age where he wouldn't look forward to mediating as solution to the difficult dilemma faced by the Democratic Party over the Michigan and Florida convention delegates...


Former Senator George J. Mitchell

My proposed Strauss-like leader of the Democrats who can pull that off: Former Maine Senator and Democratic Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Senator Mitchell, as we all know, was centrally responsible for bringing peace to the warring factions in Northern Island. He was the trusted investigator of steroids in major league baseball. He is also a savvy politician whose years as Majority Leader taught him the wisdom of the need to make a choice between two unhappy alternatives if the absence of any deal is far worse. 

The current dilemma involving Florida and Michigan in the Democratic presidential race fits that very dilemma.

On the one hand, the Clinton campaign and many others believe that the Michigan 700,000 Democratic primary voters and the 1.5 million who voted in Florida in January should not be disenfranchised, even if they violated the DNC calendar rules that everyone agreed ahead-of-time should be enforced. 

On the other hand, the Obama campaign and many others believe that rules should be followed before the game is played, and not changed in the middle of the game, much less those who violated them rewarded. They favor a 50-50 split seating all the delegates – but Clinton campaign supporters and most Florida and Michigan Democrats would still see this as disenfranchising voters. 

One thing everyone agrees on: Democrats cannot afford to alienate Florida and Michigan voters and possibly lose the White House in 2008 as a result. 

So what to do? Enters Senator George Mitchell. 

He is neutral in the Clinton-Obama race. He is highly respected. He is senior (though he has young children and shows no sign of losing any energy and vitality). And most of all, as just noted, he understands politics and the need for a better alternative among two even worse alternatives. 

There is some re-vote solution out there that constitutes that alternative. A mail-in ballot, a "firehouse" primary (where voters go to various firehouses or public libraries to vote, rather than a voting machine in every precinct), or some combination. Yes, the verification process for mail ballots will be a challenge – though not too much different than handling millions of absentee ballots as has been the case in Florida and Michigan for years. Yes, the "fire houses" or libraries, etc., must be numerous and located strategically to make it relatively easy for those who did not receive a mailed ballot to vote. Provisions for transportation of voters who need it to get to the fire houses would not be all that complicated to work out.

Yes, it could cost $10-$20 million or more for the Michigan and Florida state Democratic parties to pay for all this – since taxpayers could not be expected to foot the bill.

But if George Mitchell could get Northern Ireland protestants and Catholics to make peace and craft a complicated solution for coalition governing, he should be able to get the Obama and Clinton campaigns to solve all of the above problems, especially raising the money. If both campaigns posted a special solicitation on their websites to all their donors, most of that money could be raised from small donations in days if not a couple of weeks.

So to Senator Obama and Senator Clinton: How about making a joint call to Senator Mitchell and invite him to "bring us together" and remind him: "Blessed be the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth."

– Lanny J. Davis, former Clinton Lawyer

Editor's Note: Lanny J. Davis, a Washington attorney, is a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and has many friends and family members who support Senator Barack Obama.

Filed under: Lanny Davis • Raw Politics
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. John C

    Wake up Lanny - it's over. Time to count pledged delegates.

    March 26, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  2. Gloria F-C

    Bad idea to start over with a new candidate, seem we would have to go through the same ritual of investigating this person's backgroud to see if we can find dirt (oh isn't what we usually do?). Most sesible americans are clear on which candidate will be able to lead a country in desperate need of a trust worthy, intelligent and socially conscious individual – we have that already in Barek Obama. Or is it because we don't think that a "Black Man" can lead the country. How dare us to think that equlity reigns in this country. We ought to be so ashamed of ourselves. Here we are supposed to be the example for the world to follow and we can't even follow our own consitution. May God help us.

    March 26, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  3. Niles F.

    Man, you Obama supporters are really starting to scare me. I have never witnessed such vile and hysterical rantings in my life. You are outraged that someone has the audacity to oppose your Perfect Messiah. Hillary may not be perfect, but for god sakes do you really want to banish her and all of her supporters from the Democratic Party because we do not happen to share your blind enthusiasm for an unproven mystery man?

    March 26, 2008 at 1:43 pm |
  4. Mike S

    Oh BTW Lanny, I thought it was Hillary who brought peace to Northern Ireland as she fought her way through snipers and couldn't get back in time to change the NAFTA agreement?

    March 26, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  5. Vince FL.



    March 26, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  6. KruzinKerry

    Revisit Hillary's senate campaign footage & expose it to the world (special interest & Peter Paul). How in the heck could someone still vote for her when she is as corrupt as her "Lewinski" husband. We need to eliminate this kind of thinking in Washington. And where did the $5 mil come from??? Goodbye Hillary, Hello leader for a new generation-OBAMA!!!

    March 26, 2008 at 11:20 am |
  7. Lewis

    Somebody needs to grab the TWO CRYBABIES by the scruff of the neck and knock their heads together. Promptly. I mean, "Hello!....We've got a nation at stake here....."

    Portland, Oregon

    March 26, 2008 at 10:38 am |
  8. EMJordan

    It is a sad day in this country when it has came so far. And you still have people falling prey to a bunch of lies that has been thrown around from the start of this primary by the Clinton Camp (Hillary) and this is the kind of leadership that you want. It's lies that has this country at WAR today and thousands of lives lost because of that and go ahead and continue to let Hillary talk "AT" you instead of talking "TO" you and tell some more lies, what has she done besides sit as first lady while Bill was getting busy in the Oval Office what makes her so credible she has not proven a thing. If that is the kind of person you want to sit AGAIN in the WHITE HOUSE while her husband romes around with the new interns. People wake up that is not the kind of change for america needs. Everything that was thought to be something that can hur Obama has been Creteeked with a fine tooth comb but the remarks and comments from Hillary's camp has been oh well it's not like that and just this week Carville made a comment about Richardson supporting Obama and when asked about it he said he was not speaking for anyone but himself and was not taking back what he said but by the same token he wants to condem Obama for comments made by Rev. Wright well my thoughts are just the same Rev. Wright was speaking his point of view and not for the way that Obama feels. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SHOULD REALLY WAKE UP. SOMEONE SHOULD LET HILLARY KNOW THAT SHE CAN'T HAVE HER CAKE AND EAT IT TOO!!!!!!!

    March 26, 2008 at 9:51 am |
  9. Parker

    P.S. How can democratics get Howard Dean fired.

    March 26, 2008 at 3:37 am |
  10. Parker

    First of all, I would like to apologies for some of the absolutely rude comments. The fact are, the democrats are in a unprecedented situation. It does need to be resolved. No one could of predicted the election would be this closed, when the rules where formatted. Reality is those voters are valuable, their voices needed to be heard. Florida and Michigan are going to play major roles in November.

    March 26, 2008 at 3:35 am |
  11. KruzinKerry

    As a registered Independent (supporting a new leader, Obama), I totally agree w/ V. Sheldon. Lanny Davis is a joke that can't be taken seriously. He definitely has a hidden agenda that is as transparent as Hillary's "Peter Paul fund raising fraud" of her senate campaign. I wonder why the media has not exposed that blatent campaign fraud that was committed when she ran for the senate? THAT'S THE HOT TOPIC THAT WILL FORCE HER TO QUIT THIS CAMPAIGN!!! I saw the story on you-tube & was astonded by the way the Clintons threw every one else under the bus when it was HER VOICE on Pauls telephone.
    We don't need another "Washingtonite" in office for 4 more years. Obama's record is so clean that the opposition is having to dig up trash from people around him like Rev. Wright. Give me a break BILLARY & GO AWAY (take your husband & Lanny with you).

    March 25, 2008 at 11:38 pm |
  12. Cindy Nichols

    The Florida and Michigan revote issue is a Constitutional rights issue.If they do not count florida and michigans votes because they broke the rules!!! Then this is a double standard because the DNC is doing the same thing by breaking laws,rules by not letting men and women who are all suppose to be created equal and have freedom of speech.So what is the difference????????

    March 25, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  13. Kay TX

    Since it is likely neither Candidate can win without these states included, and niether the candidates, the party or the states, will pay for it, I believe the people who did have the good judgement to vote, and the candidate who had good enough judgement, not to remove their name from the ballot in Michigan, and won the election, in FL should not be punished for the ignorance of her party. Since we know Senator Obama, isn't going to agree to that, I would like to know if these were electoral votes, who would be winning now and at the end of the endless campaign. I believe whoever is winning in those states, is the Candiate that is most able to win the election, and the super delegates should consider in making their choice.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  14. Linda

    I don't trust Lanny Davis. If he is recommending George Mitchell, then I am against him. He has shown himself to be dishonorable. He insists on defending Hillary when she obviously lied. He, with a straight face, is telling us that Hillary made an "honest" mistake. He doesn't know the meaning of honest. He has done his best to try to castigate Obama for what Obama's minister said, while he will not admit that Hillary Clinton told a bold faced life. The film footage of her 1996 trip proves that. Her own increasingly hyperbolic account of the trip is evidence that she crafted the lie to bolster her claim of foreign policy experience. The foolish thing is: who in the world thinks that dodging sniper fire in Bosnia constitutes passing the commander-in-chief experience test any way? If that is so critical, any of the many veterans who have completed multiple tours in Iraq would make her claimed experience pale any way.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  15. Donald, N.M.

    I'm not sure how I feel about Mitchell as an arbiter as opposed to Gore or Carter or some other Democratic Party leader because a big giant was chasing me around the house until a tiger chased it away...OOPS! Just having a Hillary-moment.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:19 pm |
  16. acunningham

    Hilliary has a issue with being truthful. There was no reason for her to lie about the Bosnet trip this is uncalled for. This tells me if she lies about something this small what else she is willing to lie about that is big. This is the very reason we are in the war we are in today because of lies from the current administration. I am a life long democrat and if Hilliary cheat Obama out of the nomination by spending and trying to convince the media and others she is even or ahead I will not vote for her. If she was ahead of Obama and won it fair and square by delegates which is what we use to choose presidents and not the way she and her campaign is trying to spend it. This is so dishonest.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  17. Sharon

    It's time for the Clintstones to say goodbye. Hillary's campaign is doing nothing but dragging the dems down. Call it a day and give it a rest. You've lost and it's time to get over it and get on with debating the repugs.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  18. honei

    Its amazing that folks are blaming Obama. He is not to blame, nor is Hillary. Florida and Michigan, blame your state legislators for agreeing to this madness. Vote them out...

    March 25, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  19. Joyce-Houston

    I don't understand why the American people can't see that Hilliary Clinton and her staff are liars, She is very devious and misleading people Her supporters know she is lying and it's like she is controlling them just because bill was the President and this man name lanny Davis is only an echo of Hilliary.
    I am an Obama supporter and he sholdn't be judged because of pastor Wright says.
    GO OBAMA !!!1

    March 25, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  20. fran

    I'm sick of the double standard with the news organizations. Each politician is fair game and the continued adoration of Obama is absolutely ridiculous. Hillary has every right to raise issues or anwer a question posed to her concerning Wright. Why do we have to be "politically correct". Why can't we say what is on our mind. Besides, it is Obama who is constantly going negative and then claiming it is the Clintons and their smear tactics... I'm sick of this attitude with Obama, constantly crying and whining – my children are more mature.

    The American public sees right through all this propaganda and they will vote in the best interest of the United States.

    March 25, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  21. Tim Long

    As a life-long dem, I waqs pretty sure that they would figure out a way to screw this election up, and I am being proved correct by the Clinton sleaze machine. Must pay pretty good if you're as desparate to win as Rove.

    March 25, 2008 at 9:48 pm |
  22. Roland Madore, Fort Collins, CO

    Lanny Davis, you're part of the problem. Thanks a lot! The little people Dems are helpless while the party’s being destroyed by the Clintons!

    Hiliary Clinton didn't misspeak on her foreign policy experience, she lied! It's all part of her underhanded scheme to steal the nomination away from Barack Obama. I'm infuriated the party regulars do nothing to stop her. More superdelegates, like Governor Richardson, need to step forward and publicly denounce the Clintons. The "little people" of the Democratic Party are sick and tired of party establishment and media spinners allowing the Hiliary-Bill destruction machine to hijack the nomination. Enough is enough!

    What can the little people Dems do while the Democratic Party's chances for a win in the fall diminish by the day? I keep writing Governor Dean and Speaker Pelosi. I also blog about it, and I'm prepared to walk if need be.

    With her negatives so high, I simply can't believe Hiliary Clinton can ever win the general election anyway! But, I believe more and more, the Clintons want John McCain to win, so Hiliary can run again in four years. If, by some slight chance, she is able to steal the nomination away from Barack Obama and ends up the nominee, this Democrat will not only NOT VOTE FOR HER or McCain (I will cast my vote for some other progressive candidate), I will leave the Democratic Party!

    What's it going to take for the Democratic Party establishment to realize a lot of the little people of the party are hopping mad because we feel it's time to say goodbye and turn the page of the dunghill politics of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton?

    March 25, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  23. V. Sheldon

    Mr. Davis
    The more i see of you, the less i like you. You have no interest in seeing peace between Obama and Clinton. Your only interest is in seeing Hillary Clinton the nominee of the Democratic Party,period.
    You have no other agenda than that. I do not trust you or your motives.
    You have shown that one minded obsession that most Clintonistas show, that being: Get Hillary nominated, it does not matter how you do it or who you rip apart or besmirch. Your statements are political posturing in order to foist Mrs. Clinton on everyone.
    Please go away!

    March 25, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  24. donna gifford

    Obama talks the talk, but doesn' walk the walk. He'll never win the general election in November, and he'll never get my vote!!!!!!!!!!

    March 25, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  25. Christine

    People, people you CAN NOT have a democratic nominee without counting every state and all people who voted. I am a person who voted for Hillary and won't vote for Obama if he is the nominee. Sorry but for me he lacks everything a president needs. He will never be able to hold his own in a crisis with other leaders. We don't need a speaker we need a leader, and a man who dosen't care abount voters is not a leader.

    March 25, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  26. Annie Kate

    Since both candidates claim that they are agents of change able to reach across the aisle and build coalitions to get important legislation done for the country, lets see if they can settle this one issue – have the Obama campaign and the Clinton campaign each designate a mediator that will work with the other to find a happy solution to this problem rather than continue sniping at each other and pointing fingers. If they can do that and do it peacefully then perhaps we can settle two questions at once – are the candidates really what they say they are and helping Michigan and Florida get their voices heard.

    Should be an interesting exercise.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 25, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  27. William

    Florida and Michigan knew from the beginning of the primaries the penalty for breaking the DNC rules. They, and they alone, are responsible for what the consequences of their actions has had.
    They knew what would happen and did it anyway. Now we must still wait until one candidate has 2,025 delegates before anyone becomes the Democratic Presidential nominee. I hope no one concedes before one has 2,025 delegates.

    March 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm |
  28. Lisa

    Back in Feb. I too felt hopeful for a dem as President. Almost 2 months later, I don't think so. Hillary subscribed to Karl Roves Play Book and is following it to the tee. The inter-party jabs just make the entire party look bad, especially when the Dems have always held themselves to higher standards than the Reps when it comes to smear campaignes.

    March 25, 2008 at 8:09 pm |
  29. Kathy, Andover

    I like George Mitchell. But the fact that Lanny Davis wrote this means this proposal is far from neutral.

    March 25, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  30. Jennie Smith

    It's time that someone talk to Hillary and her backers, and Barak and his "people" like a Dutch Uncle and made them understand that their snide, meanspirited remarks about the other one just is not doing the Democratic Party any good. Stick to the issues! Mitchell is just the right one to do that. Where is Evert Dirskson when we need him?

    Jennie Smith

    March 25, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  31. jp

    Ginger – you have got to be kidding with your comments – claiming Obama to be selfish because Hillary now wants to change the rules because she is losing. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. Do tell the truth...if it were you....what would you do? This is not his blame to take..He is not trying to disenfranchise voters, he is trying to go by the RULES. Get it right..girfriend.
    Hi Anderson – thanks for the opportunity to BLOG...it is fun!

    March 25, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  32. suki

    Mr Davis – no offense but Clinton supporters like yourself are the problem – in the Clinton world nothing that they do is wrong but everyone else is – Clinton agreed with the decisions of the states of Florida and Michigan when the primary changes were announced – now when she is losing she wants the rules to change – sorry – at this point divide the total delagates in half and award that amount to both Obama and Clinton – if that can't be done blame the Republician governor and legislature here in Florida – stop blaming Obama

    I am a Florida voter who went to vote in the primary knowing my state delegates would not count – the main reason most Floridians went to the polls in January was due to an important amendment on property taxes – that is what brought out unprecedented turnout – intelligent voters knew going in to the voting booth exactly what the story was

    Mrs. Clinton should graciously bow out and throw her support behind Senator Obama – instead she is destroying the party and her own credibility by lying about her foreign experience – she was first lady not the co-president – maybe if she was more honest with the American people she would be trusted more –

    Senator Mitchell is a terrific statesmen and his help in any matter is always welcome but Mr Davis it would only work if you and other Clinton supporters like Carville stopped talking and urged Senator Clinton to go back to the senate

    March 25, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  33. Clint from Bama

    Mitchell would be a good mediator, no doubt. He would have his work cut out for him. As the former North Alabama Campaign Coordinator for Bill Clinton and one who was "honored" with a private lunch w/ Hillary in Bill's first campaign, I must say I am totally disgusted with the Clinton's egregiously outrageous conduct in this primary contest.

    So disgusted, that in the unlikely event that Hillary should win the nomination ... I will not vote for her!

    March 25, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  34. Ruby Coria, LA., CA.

    360, yeah bless the peace makers but we're talking politics and there is no peace in that. The fact is that we clam to have the best elections with freedom n everyone vote n we all have rights and so on..we're like Iraq some vote some don't..religion all in our politics "damning America" "the Goverment lies" ..and so on. Fl. n Mich should vote no matter what! no matter when! jump on that one Obama. n 360.

    March 25, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  35. Gretchen

    On the other hand, why couldn't we just let John McCain have the 44 electoral college votes for those two states? Why try to make peace and enfranchise all Democrat voters? Why not let both halves of the Dem party continue blaming the other for this problem so that the eventual nominee will be saddled with it? If we can keep the giant game of chicken going just a little longer, or keep coming up with ridiculous solutions like splitting them down the middle (same as not voting at all), McCain would only need another 216 EC votes. We would be well on our way to finally having a moderate President before the first convention even commences. Go, Howard Dean, Go!

    March 25, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  36. Barry, IL

    Let us be fair. What has the good Anderson Cooper has got to do with the bitter war within the democratic party during these campaign trails. That's barking at the wrong tree. Anderson Cooper has not called anyone "Judas", "monster"...He did not claim of ducking imaginery snipers either. The problem lies wthin the democratic party campaigns. The two democrtic nominees' campaigns are not focusing on the real issues. They focus on side issues like character assassination of the nominees. Journalists are merely reporting what Senator Clinton's and Senator Obama's camps focus on. They focus on the wrong issus and get coverage for same.

    March 25, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  37. Wendy - WA

    Too late for the Democratic Party. The Party is dead. Not only will Clinton lose the general election after the Party eventually caves in to the Clinton sleaze and grants her the nomination, but the Democrats will have major loses in the House and Senate as she drags them down with her. This is not a credible and competent Party and they are proving it more each day.

    March 25, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  38. cary

    Thank you 'Jason Livesay'. Wouldn't it be amazing for Anderson Cooper to rebel against video of Obama in the Virgin Islands (oh THAT was real exciting) and just continually press the issues of Islamic terror, taxes, health care costs, oil independence, and not even ASK these candidates the "he said she said" questions? Yeah, it would be amazing

    March 25, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
  39. Jason Livesay

    I think that Anderson Cooper and his colleagues at CNN could personally go a long way towards "cleaning up" this campaign by focusing less on "he said/she said" and more on critical explorations of Hillary and Barak's plans and resolution of the challenges facing those plans. For example, what are the major roadblocks for the healthcare plans and how might they be addressed?

    March 25, 2008 at 6:37 pm |
  40. Ginger

    It is about time someone spoke up. Howard Dean has proven he is not a leader. He has said let the candidates work it out. Obama will never agree, he thinks it is to his disadvantage. What a selfish way of thinking. This has been up to the Democratic Party from the start. I agree with the solution, the people need to be given there voting rights. The only thing I am concerned about is Seniors who do not drive. How will they vote? Maybe have people pick up voting in Senior homes. Every democrate should have an opportunity to vote.
    I will be one to switch to Independent if these people are not given the right to vote.

    March 25, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  41. xtina

    Donna above had a good idea: a split ticket ! Could we ever make it work w/ a Democratic Pres. and Repub. VP or vice versa. Or how about switching off every quarter ?... :/ . ... maybe not.

    March 25, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  42. Donna from NY

    It would be great if someone could step in and talk some reason into this. I just think that Hillary won't listen to anyone at this point. I believe she will bring all of us down with her if she can't win this. She will never surrender!

    It is a shame since I thought we finally had a chance of winning in November. I guess she does prefer to let the Republicans win if she can't have the nomination herself. Maybe the Dream Team is really-

    McCain/Hillary 08

    March 25, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  43. xtina

    $10 million to 20 million to make it all work in MI and FL? Congress adds that kind of money onto a bill like it's play money.

    March 25, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  44. cary

    Someone was a "trusted advisor " to BOTH the Democratic and Republican Committees ?!

    March 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  45. Cindy

    Well the Dems definitely need someone to bring peace to this chaotic election! It is getting mighty ugly here lately!

    Cynthia, Covington, Ga.

    March 25, 2008 at 5:16 pm |