Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard said Friday that the Democratic National Committee is so focused on punishing Michigan and Florida for moving up their primaries that it has lost sight of winning the November election.
The DNC stripped the two states of their national convention delegates for breaking the rules. Neither has been able to come up with a way acceptable to the DNC, state party leaders and the campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama that would get the delegates seated.
Blanchard, a co-chairman of Clinton's Michigan campaign, said the Republican National Committee handled the matter better than the DNC. The RNC stripped the two states of only half their GOP delegates and applied the same punishment to New Hampshire and other states that moved up their GOP elections.
The former governor says the DNC leaders have gone too far and risk losing the White House to Republican John McCain.
"They have put their rules ahead of common sense, of electing a Democratic president, of the voters in two major states," Blanchard said during the taping of Michigan public television's "Off the Record" program. "They're treating the rules like they're the U.S. Constitution or the Ten Commandments. They've lost their way.
"If Michigan is not seated and recognized -- and Florida -- we are flirting with a McCain election," he added.
DNC spokesman Damien LaVera says the DNC is continuing to work with Michigan and Florida to find a way to seat the delegates that meets party rules. He doesn't think enforcing the rules is endangering a Democratic victory.
"We are confident that when Michigan voters see that the real John McCain is out of touch with economic challenges facing working families and has no plan for Iraq, they will choose one of our great candidates," LaVera said.
Responded RNC spokesman Chris Taylor: "The DNC is obviously desperate and trying to say anything to distract voters from the fact that their candidates have divided their party."
Clinton won the Jan. 15 primary and supports holding another election in Michigan if the results of the first one aren't going to count.
The Obama campaign has said the state's 128 pledged delegates should be split evenly between the two candidates, even though the Illinois senator and several other candidates took their names off the ballot.
Blanchard said neither Obama nor Clinton can win the nomination without the support of superdelegates, the nearly 800 party and elected officials who don't have to make up their minds until the Aug. 25-28 convention in Denver.
Blanchard would like to see a June superdelegate primary such as the one proposed by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen to get the nomination nailed down and avoid a convention fight.
"Normally, our conventions are in late July, and you have August for a lot of consultation and mending fences and patching up relationships. This year, we're in late August," he said. "I fear, that if the acrimony continues, we will have a very weakened candidate, and we run the risk of losing."
DNC Chairman Howard Dean won't back a superdelegate primary because it would "make it look like the superdelegates are getting together, the 350 of them that are uncommitted, and undoing the work of 30 million voters. That you can't do," he said.
But Dean would like the superdelegates to commit to Obama or Clinton well before the convention.
"I would encourage superdelegates to make their commitments earlier rather than later," he told The Associated Press in an interview. "That's a good thing to do for the party and the country."