- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

TORONTO — As Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton prepare for the party’s nominating convention without a majority of delegates, a half vote cast by a delegate from abroad could prove decisive.

Canada’s two superdelegates to the convention, along with 20 other international delegates from Democrats Abroad who will share 11 votes, are excited about the prospect.

Toronto-based superdelegate Toby Condliffe, an Obama supporter, said 6 million to 7 million Americans are living outside the U.S. — 500,000 to 700,000 in Canada — who are eligible to vote in U.S. elections once they are registered.

Until the 1980s, Democrats living abroad “had no delegation at all,” he said. Now, they have 22 — eight superdelegates and 14 regular delegates from three global regions — each with half a vote.

Democrats Abroad “wanted more people at the convention so they gave us half a vote each instead of one,” Mr. Condliffe said.

Mr. Condliffe, 63, a New York native and former Yale classmate of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said Mr. Obama reminds him of former President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Obama has the ability to “bring changes in a way that Senator Clinton or the other candidates could not,” he said.

Despite some reports that he has been deluged with calls from members of the candidates’ teams, Mr. Condliffe said, he has received only a few calls from “junior-level staffers just out of college.”

Canada’s other superdelegate, Robert Bell, backs Mrs. Clinton because the senator from New York “has the better chance to beat [presumptive Republican candidate] John McCain” of Arizona.

But, he quickly added, the senator from Illinois is inspiring and “I would certainly support Barack Obama if he is our candidate.”

Mr. Bell said he has been contacted by “both campaigns” and participates in conference calls with other superdelegates in Mrs. Clinton’s camp.

One of the founders of Democrats Abroad, Mr. Bell grew up in Chicago, where he was tear-gassed by police during riots outside the Democratic Party convention in 1968. He moved to Toronto in 1975.

Democrats Abroad recently held a global primary in 160 countries in which participants could register easily and vote online. Of the 22,000 votes cast, 65.8 percent went for Mr. Obama and 32.5 percent for Mrs. Clinton.

They voted at 13 locations in Canada and from “Antarctica to Zambia,” Mr. Bell said.

Democrats Abroad will hold its convention in Vancouver next month to choose the 22 half-delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August.

Roger King, spokesman for Democrats Abroad in Canada, said global delegates will be proportioned according to the candidate’s percentage of the vote. Mr. Obama gained nine delegates for 4½ votes, and Mrs. Clinton picked up five delegates for 2½ votes.

Of the eight global superdelegates, “four have pledged for Sen. Obama, two have indicated support for Hillary and two are uncommitted,” Mr. Condliffe said.

Mark Feigenbaum, Canadian chairman of Republicans Abroad, said his party has no delegates representing Republicans living abroad. “I haven’t heard any plans to change this,” he said. Republicans “just put an envelope in the mail.”

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