Obama gains superdelegates after trading wins with Clinton
The former first lady declined to say whether that meant through the roll call of the states at the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Clinton also disclosed that she had loaned her campaign an additional $6.4 million in recent weeks, evidence that her once front-runner campaign was in deep trouble.
She told reporters the loans were a sign of her commitment to her quest for the White House. She earlier loaned herself $5 million as she struggled to keep up with a better-financed Obama campaign.
Obama, now the front-runner, was home in Chicago during the day as his aides spread word that he would soon begin campaigning in states likely to be pivotal in the fall campaign. They also relayed word of the four endorsements, expected to be made public later in the day. Both disclosures were meant to signal fresh confidence that the nomination was quickly coming into his possession after a grueling marathon across 15 months and nearly all 50 states.
Clinton’s appearance in Shepherdstown, W.Va., was meant to underscore her determination to stay the course. She also arranged a private meeting later in the day with uncommitted superdelegates.
Jeanette Council, an undecided superdelegate from North Carolina, said she decided over the weekend to endorse Obama but waited until after voters cast their ballots to announce it on Wednesday.
“I just think Senator Obama is the face of America,” Council, a commissioner from Cumberland County, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “When I looked at it, I was so excited at the fact that he was bringing in so many new people and there was an excitement around the campaign.”
Clinton won the Indiana primary narrowly early Wednesday, but the overall impact of the night’s two contests was to lengthen Obama’s lead in national convention delegates without fundamentally altering the nature of the race. The results also prompted former Sen. George McGovern, a Clinton backer of several months, to urge her to drop out while endorsing her rival.
Obama has 1,840.5 delegates to 1,688 for Clinton in The Associated Press tally. It takes 2,025 delegates to win the nomination in Denver this summer.
Clinton told reporters it would take 2,209 or 2,210 delegates to win the nomination, not the 2,025 in use by the Democratic National Committee. The higher total would come into play if the delegations were seated from Michigan and Florida, two states that held primaries outside the time frame that party rules required.
The former first lady campaigned for months to have new votes in both states, although lately has said she merely wants the delegations seated.
Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said on Tuesday night it was possible a compromise could be worked out to seat the Michigan delegates. He did not mention Florida.
Asked at her news conference whether she intended to remain in the race through the convention roll call, Clinton said, “I’m staying in this race until there’s a nominee and obviously I am going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee.”
Clinton backers appeared on early morning television programs to stress that she was still in the race and to urge party leaders and elected officials known as superdelegates not to flee to Obama.
“This candidacy and this campaign continues on,” Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said on CNN.
Obama was 184.5 delegates shy of the number needed to secure the Democratic nomination, his campaign finally steadying after missteps fiercely exploited by the never-say-die Clinton.
His campaign dropped broad hints it was time for the 270 remaining unaligned superdelegates to get off the fence and settle the nomination.
In a counter to Wolfson, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said: “The delegate math gets exceptionally harder for Senator Clinton every day.”
In a memorandum to superdelegates, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe reminded them of the delegate math necessary to secure the nomination. He said Clinton would need to win 68 percent of the remaining delegates to win — an extremely unlikely scenario, made harder by her poor performance Tuesday.
“With the Clinton path to the nomination getting even narrower, we expect new and wildly creative scenarios to emerge in the coming days,” Plouffe wrote. “While those scenarios may be entertaining, they are not legitimate and will not be considered legitimate by this campaign or millions of supporters, volunteers and donors.”
It was in the superdelegate arena — even more than in the scattered primaries left — that the Democratic hyperdrama was bound to play out.
Clinton vowed to compete tenaciously for West Virginia next week and Kentucky and Oregon after that, and to press “full speed on to the White House.”
But she risked running on fumes without an infusion of cash, and made a direct fundraising pitch from the stage in Indianapolis. “I need your help to continue our journey,” she said.
And she pledged anew that she would support the Democratic nominee “no matter what happens,” a vow also made by her competitor.
But her campaign schedule belied any immediate reconciliation. West Virginia holds its primary on Tuesday. Kentucky and Oregon hold their contests a week later. Puerto Rico is scheduled for June 1 followed promptly by Montana and South Dakota on June 3.
Her campaign is making the case that those contests are crucial to her and will press Democratic party officials to resolve disputed contests in Michigan and Florida, which she won but whose results the party voided because the primaries were held ahead of the schedule set by Democratic Party rules.
Associated Press Writers Mike Baker in Raleigh, N.C., Liz Sidoti in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Tom Raum in Chicago and Nedra Pickler in Washington contributed to this report.