Barack Obama Pulls Even In Superdelegates With Hillary Clinton

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Senator Barack Obama has caught up to his opponent, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the count of superdelegates, one of the few mathematical areas where Mrs. Clinton still maintained an advantage in the race.

Mr. Obama picked up endorsements on Friday from three more superdelegates, the Democratic Party insiders who are granted autonomy to support whomever they wish at the convention in August. One, a New Jersey congressman, switched his allegiance away from Mrs. Clinton, allowing the Illinois senator to pull even with his rival, according to the latest New York Times count.

The Times’s tally shows each candidate with 263 superdelegates, based on telephone polls conducted with CBS News as well as public endorsements. A separate count by The Associated Press shows Mr. Obama still trailing by fewer than four votes. And a measure by ABC News shows the Illinois senator already ahead, 267 to 265.

Mrs. Clinton trails her opponent in the popular vote and the total Democratic delegate count. But this is the first time since the outset of the race that she has lost the lead in one of her few remaining trump cards.

Superdelegates represent up to a fifth of the Democratic convention delegation, and have historically supported the front-runner at the convention. More than 250 superdelegates have yet to publicly announce their decisions.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama picked up the support of Representative Donald Payne of New Jersey, who told The Star-Ledger of Newark that he was switching away from Mrs. Clinton after thinking through “one of the most difficult decisions I have made.” Peter DeFazio, an Oregon congressman, also said he would back Mr. Obama.

Ed Espinoza, a Californian who is a member of the party’s national committee, pledged his support on Friday, according to the Obama campaign.

Mr. Obama’s gains came as other senior members of his party appeared to be closing ranks around him. The Huffington Post reported that Representative Rahm Emanuel, the influential Democrat from Illinois, referred to Mr. Obama as the “presumptive nominee” at a discussion panel held by The New Yorker on Friday morning.

(A spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel told the Politico that “all Rahm said was that Senator Obama was now the front-runner, which by and large means, because of the calendar, he is the presumptive nominee, at this point.”)

Meanwhile, the fate of another significant endorsement in the race may hang on the interpretation of a pronoun — for now, anyway.

Appearing on MSNBC this morning, John Edwards said he was “very likely” to endorse the candidate he voted for in the North Carolina primary on Tuesday. But, the anchors asked, which candidate was it?

In his demurral, Mr. Edwards may have slipped: “I just voted — I just voted for him on Tuesday,” he said. But given Mr. Edwards’s Southern accent, that pesky pronoun may have been plural, albeit in a shortened form: “I just voted for ’em on Tuesday.”

David Schuster, an MSNBC host, attempted to ferret out the truth. “So it was a him or a her that you voted for?” he asked, interrupting the former senator. Mr. Edwards then backpedaled, saying, “No, no,” and laughing.

Ariel Alexovich and Julie Bosman contributed reporting.

Source: Nytimes

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