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DateLine Sunday, 11 May 2008





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Clinton fights on as focus turns to superdelegates

Despite an overwhelming defeat in North Carolina and a narrow victory in Indiana, Sen. Hillary vowed to stay in the race until her party has a nominee.

"I, obviously, am going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee. That is what I've done; that's what I'm continuing to do," she said Wednesday in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

The focus of the Democratic race now turns to the superdelegates, because they outnumber the remaining pledged delegates.

Neither Sen. Barack Obama nor Clinton is expected to win the 2,025 delegates needed to capture the nomination during the remaining contests. That means the superdelegates -- party and elected officials who are allowed to vote during the national convention -- will probably decide who becomes the nominee.

Obama is ahead of Clinton in total delegates: 1,842 to 1,686. Watch how the numbers work against Clinton »

Clinton narrowly leads Obama in superdelegates who have publicized whom they are voting for. But the superdelegates are beginning to head to Obama's corner, said David Gergen, a CNN political analyst.

"The superdelegates are starting to move. The dam is breaking," Gergen said. "No matter what happens in these primaries, it's much less important than the fact that the superdelegates are starting to swing his way, and that, in turn, will try to put pressure on her."

Obama's campaign announced four new superdelegates for the Illinois senator on Wednesday, compared with one coming out for Clinton.

Only 217 pledged delegates are up for grabs in the remaining six contests: West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota.

Sen. George McGovern tells Larry King why he's switching his support.

Tonight, 9 p.m. ET

Obama chief strategist David Axelrod said that during the six contests remaining, his candidate and Clinton will "probably end up roughly splitting the remaining delegates."

"There's more superdelegates uncommitted right now than there are remaining pledged delegates," Axelrod noted. "We feel by May 20, we will have secured a majority of the delegates. So, I think we're in a very strong position here."

Clinton met with Democratic Party officials on Wednesday and undecided members of Congress on Tuesday afternoon to make her case for the nomination and press for a resolution to seating the delegations of Florida and Michigan.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the race was not over. She has repeatedly said she remains neutral in the Democrats' nomination battle but said Clinton's slim margin of victory in Indiana doesn't mean her campaign was finished.

"A win is a win. Let's just call it what it is," Pelosi said, adding that a protracted Democratic fight for the nomination isn't going to hurt the party.

"I believe the races must continue," she said. "The people should all have the opportunity to speak as long as two candidates wish to compete in those primaries and caucuses. In a few weeks, we will be on our way to nominating the next president of the United States."

Clinton needs to convince superdelegates that she'd be a better matchup against Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee. Watch Clinton vow to fight on »

"I believe that I'm the stronger candidate against Sen. McCain, and I believe I would be the best president among the three of us running. So, we will continue to contest these elections and move forward," she said Wednesday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a key supporter of Clinton's White House bid, said Wednesday that the drawn-out race for the Democratic presidential nomination is producing "negative dividends in terms of strife within the party."

Feinstein, D-California, said she wants to talk to Clinton to "see what her view is on the rest of the race, what the strategy is."

Obama pulled out a 14-point win in North Carolina on Tuesday, and Clinton barely took Indiana, winning by 2 points.

Tuesday was Clinton's last major opportunity to significantly cut into Obama's lead in the delegate count.

The 187 delegates at stake were awarded proportionally, meaning Obama padded his lead while Clinton slipped further behind.

In Obama's speech Tuesday night, he looked ahead to the general election, mentioning Clinton only to congratulate her on Indiana and avoiding all talk of recent campaign controversies.


Obama gains momentum

With Barack Obama's lead widening in the fight for the Democratic Party nomination for the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid appears to be weakening by the day.

The narrow win by Ms Clinton of the Indiana primary even as she lost resoundingly to Mr. Obama in North Carolina on May 6 has failed to deliver the decisive turnaround in momentum that she needed to surge within touching distance of the front-runner.

The large turnout of Afri can-Americans in North Carolina ensured that the first of their ethnicity with a realistic shot at the White House carried the state with a 14 percentage point lead. Mr. Obama has once again widened the popular vote gap that Ms Clinton had narrowed earlier through victories in the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries.

The Illinois Senator should be able to pick up the bulk of the 187 pledged delegates at stake in the May 6 primaries.

Ms Clinton had clearly miscalculated that her wins in the big swing States would persuade the super-delegates — party office-bearers and those elected on its ticket — to line up behind her. While she still retains a slim lead in the super-delegate count, the drift over the past fortnight has been in favour of her opponent.

With the remaining six nominating contests expected to be split evenly, it is unlikely that either candidate will garner the support of the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination by the end of the primary season.

The nomination will eventually be decided by the 270 super-delegates who remain uncommitted. The main argument with which Ms Clinton has been trying to convince the fence-sitters in the Democratic Party is that she is likely to be more effective in taking on the Republican nominee in the November election.

But this argument appears to have cut less ice with the Democratic delegates, more of whom are moving to Mr. Obama. The Clinton campaign is also trying to convince the party's Rules and Byelaws Committee to allow the participation in the Denver convention of the 366 delegates who have been notionally selected by voters in Florida and Michigan.

Ms Clinton hopes that a rule change will help her gain a small lead in the delegate count and substantially narrow the popular vote margin. Such an outcome, she believes, will induce the super-delegates to rethink their options.

But the fact that the Obama-Clinton contest still remains unresolved, giving the Democratic Party very little lead time to have its presidential nominee launch an effective campaign against the Republican opponent this November, does not bode well for the party's prospects.



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