COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party wants presidential contender Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to take her name off Michigan’s presidential primary ballot, claiming her refusal to do so could undermine South Carolina’s role in choosing the next president.

Former state party chairman Dick Harpootlian, who supports sent a letter yesterday to the state party Chairwoman Carol Fowler, asking her to pressure Clinton to pursue “every legal resource to have her name removed from the Michigan ballot.”

“This strikes us as a parsing, cynical maneuver that could do great harm to South Carolina Democratic primary voters, who could be ignored in favor of larger states like Michigan who may also try to jump the line,” said the letter, also signed by David Adams, who is backing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardon’s campaign.

Harpootlian supports Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s candidacy.

Democratic presidential candidates had pledged not to campaign in Michigan because the state had broken Democratic National Committee rules by scheduling its primary ahead of Feb. 5. The rules ban states from holding their 2008 contests before Feb. 5, except Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Rivals Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden took their names off Michigan’s Jan. 15 primary ballot this week, ending Michigan’s big for power in the nominating process.

Clinton, however, has refused. Yesterday she said taking her name off that ballot would sacrifice her chances against the Republican nominee.

“It’s clear, this election they’re having is not going to count for anything,” Clinton said during an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio. “But I just personally did not want to set up a situation where the Republicans are going to be campaigning between now and whenever, and then after the nomination, we have to go in and repair the damage to be ready to win Michigan in 2008.”

Harpootlian admitted his call for Clinton to pull her name from the ballot was partly a partisan move. He said Clinton’s refusal to take her name off the ballot strikes him as part of a pattern from the New York senator akin to her once voting in favor of military action in Iraq, but now voicing her opposition to it.

“The constant theme that we’ve seen with her is a very careful parsing of words so she can have it both ways,” he said Thursday night. “This is too cute, too calculating. And I would suggest a part of the problem with her campaign.”

Clinton is slated to campaign in South Carolina today.

Zac Wright, her spokesman in South Carolina, said Clinton pulling her name from the ballot is “unnecessary” because she won’t be campaigning in Michigan and won’t snub voters here.

“Hillary recognizes and honors the unique role that our four early states play in the presidential nominee selection process,” Wright said.

Fowler, a member of the Democratic National Committee’s rule committee, said last night she hadn’t seen the letter from Harpootlian and Adams but considered the request “pointless” because Clinton won’t take an active role in seeking a win in a Michigan primary.

“I don’t see that it has any impact on South Carolina,” she said.

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