I’ve just received this statement from Harvey Weinstein’s people about today’s CNN report that the ardent Hillary Clinton supporter tried to strongarm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to embrace his effort to finance a re-vote of the Democratic presidential primaries in Florida and Michigan. “While Harvey has the greatest respect for Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker’s work on behalf of the country and her success in taking the House back for Democrats in 2006, he did convey that it is in the best interest of Senator Clinton, Senator Obama and the historic values of the Democratic Party to find a way to re-vote Florida and Michigan and not disenfranchise millions of voters. Harvey believes the only way Democrats can lose the presidency in 2008 is by repeating what happened in 2000 – and not count all the votes. Harvey assumes that all Democrats stand united behind the principle that everyone should have the opportunity to vote.”
It’s rare that I agree with Harv on anything Hollywood, and certainly I continually disapprove of his bullyboy tactics, but on this issue I think Weinstein is right. Florida and Michigan Democrats should be allowed to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama no matter if it’s too late to affect the ultimate winner. What’s more is that lost in this CNN story is a very promising idea: Weinstein’s offer to raise money so that both states can hold proper primary elections since the Democratic party keeps saying there’s no money to fund them. “Harvey is very passionate about this issue. He was knee-deep in it in 2000,” a Weinstein insider reminds me. “He now feels it’s important for Democrats to count everyone’s vote. The real story is Harvey looking to get a group together to finance it in Michigan and Florida. This is not about Hillary and Obama but about the party and consistency.”
CNN’s White House correspondent Ed Henry broke a story about how our moviemaking pal tried to bully House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late last month. (Seriously, does she really think she’s deserves better treatment from Weinstein than, say, Hollywood directors and actors?) The CNN report says Weinstein had a heated phone call with Pelosi late last month during which Harv threatened to cut off campaign money to congressional Democrats unless Pelosi embraced a new plan by the movie mogul to finance a revote of the Democratic presidential primaries in Florida and Michigan. CNN cites three officials who were briefed on the contents of the conversation as the sources for its report:
“The three officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the private phone conversation, said Weinstein appeared determined to buy Clinton more time in her battle against Barack Obama by pushing for the revote and pressing Pelosi to back off her previous comments that superdelegates should support the candidate who’s leading in pledged delegates in early June.”
After the report aired, Weinstein called CNN today to “vehemently” deny that he issued any threats. “Never, ever was the thought about denying funding to Democrats,” he told the cable news network. That denial was repeated to me today as well.