- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2008

Democratic officials backing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are urging uncommitted superdelegates to wait until after the Texas and Ohio primaries, on March 4, before deciding who they will support at the presidential nominating convention in August.

“I’ve told all of my friends that I hope they will wait because battleground states like Ohio will be absolutely critical to our success in November,” said former Democratic National Committee Chairman Steve Grossman, who is asking his fellow superdelegates to line up behind Mrs. Clinton.

With Sen. Barack Obama leading Mrs. Clinton by 94 delegates following his big win in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, Democrats on both sides of the campaign battle said the remaining 385 superdelegates who are uncommitted appear unwilling to endorse either candidate any time soon.

Carol Fowler, a superdelegate and chairwoman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, agreed, saying she doesn’t see a big rush among superdelegates to make immediate endorsements.

“Understand, none of us have to vote until August [at the party convention], so it really doesn’t make any difference if we announce today or in August,” she said.

Only the superdelegates who are elected officials — members of Congress and governors — who face re-election have an incentive to make early endorsement in the hope it will help them politically, Mrs. Fowler said.

Gaetan DiGangi, a New Hampshire superdelegate, said he probably would only reconsider his endorsement of Mrs. Clinton if Mr. Obama is the clear front-runner after at least the Pennsylvania primary, on April 22.

But Mr. DiGangi added it’s extremely unlikely one of the two remaining Democratic candidates will have a significant lead over the other before the party’s August convention in Denver.

“What’s going to give a mandate? Number of delegates? Popular vote? States won? Makes it tipping point? It’s a tough call,” he said.

But some party officials said they hope and suspect that before the end of the long primary process — with nearly 1,000 delegates still up for grabs — one of the two rivals will have clinched the nomination, making a split or brokered convention unlikely.

“The political reality is that the outcome of the primaries and caucuses is going to determine who the nominee is. There’s very little doubt about that,” said Allan Katz, a city councilman and superdelegate in Tallahassee, Fla., who is a member of the Democratic National Committee’s powerful executive committee and an Obama supporter.

Mr. Katz thinks the superdelegates who have held back thus far “are not going to follow someone who is consistently losing primaries. When was the last time that any presidential candidate won 10 caucuses and primaries in a row and was not the nominee. I mean, it doesn’t happen.”

“But whatever happens, there is an overwhelming sense of waiting to see how things unfold and I believe things are unfolding very, very well for Obama,” he said.

“If Senator Obama emerges from Texas and Ohio in March as the winner, but let’s say its close to a tie in delegates, or it’s very close, I think you will see at least half of the superdelegates go for Obama.”

As the delegate count stood yesterday, Mr. Obama led with a total of 1,360 delegates, including 173 superdelegates who are governors, senators, House members and elected DNC members. Mrs. Clinton had 1,266 delegates, including 238 superdelegates.

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