In a setback for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party's rules committee has decided to let delegates from Florida and Michigan participate in the party's presidential nominating convention with half a vote each.


Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in Puerto Rico on Saturday. ((Elise Amendola/Associated Press))

After a long day of wrangling in Washington, D.C., the committee voted unanimously on Saturday for the half-vote compromise. It also allocated 59 Michigan delegates to front-runner Barack Obama, whose name was not on the Michigan Democratic primary ballot.

Delegates from both states had been barred from voting because state party officials held presidential primary elections earlier than party rules allowed. Clinton and Obama initially agreed that the two primaries should not count.

But Clinton desperately needs more delegates to revive her hopes of overtaking Obama and winning the nomination.

Clinton won in Florida, where all the Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign, and in Michigan, where Obama took his name off the ballot.

Saturday's rulings sent political mathematicians reaching for their calculators. CNN estimated that Obama now has the equivalent of 2,050 delegates and Clinton 1,877, with a new finish line of 2,118 to win the contest.

The Clinton campaign said it might dispute the rulings at the convention, creating the possibility of a divisive fight rather than a coronation for the party's candidate.

"I am stunned," Clinton adviser Harold Ickes told the meeting after the decision on Michigan delegates, "that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for 600,000 voters.

"Was the process flawed? You bet your ass it was flawed. Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee."

With a report from the Associated Press