- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 30, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama scrambled to secure more Texas delegates yesterday as the state pushed to settle the outcome of its March 4 caucuses.

Mr. Obama led Mrs. Clinton 56 percent to 44 percent in results reported from close to half the conventions held across the state — the latest stage of a process that prompted frustration and challenges from supporters of both candidates. Those numbers are out of about 7,300 delegates to the state convention expected to be selected at about 280 county and Senate-district meetings across the state yesterday.

Mr. Obama showed strength later in the count after his rival built a 60 percent to 40 percent edge in yesterday’s initial results.

Texas Democrats hold a presidential primary and caucuses. Mrs. Clinton won the March 4 primary with 51 percent to Mr. Obama’s 47 percent, earning her 65 national convention delegates to Mr. Obama’s 61.

The state’s caucuses began immediately after polls closed primary night and quickly devolved into chaos in many parts of the state after an unprecedented turnout of more than 1 million Democrats. An incomplete and unofficial count by the Texas Democratic Party showed Mr. Obama was leading Mrs. Clinton in caucuses 56 percent to 44 percent on election night.

A total of 67 national convention delegates are ultimately at stake in the Texas caucuses, and party conventions throughout the state yesterday were the latest effort to divvy up the prize. It appeared unlikely the bottom line would be immediately apparent for Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton in their drawn-out Texas wrangle.

Because of the huge Democratic turnout in Texas’ primary and caucuses, registration took hours yesterday. At large conventions in Houston, Dallas and Austin, arguments erupted and confusion set in as complaints were lodged about the legitimacy of some delegates.

Many of the challenges were brought by Clinton supporters questioning the validity of Obama delegates. The Clinton campaign said it wouldn’t lodge any challenges itself, but that it was helping supporters who would.

Mr. Obama was also lodging challenges in some counties regarding the complex formulas used to determine delegate counts, said campaign spokesman Josh Earnest.

“This math gets pretty complicated pretty quickly,” he said.

But Mr. Earnest said that unlike the Clinton team, the Obama campaign wasn’t challenging the seating of particular delegates.

“They’re engaged in a coordinated strategy to challenge our delegates, and we’re not,” he said. “It’s disappointing to see the Clinton campaign throw up these obstacles.”

Clinton adviser Terry McAuliffe said yesterday as he drove between Democratic conventions in Georgetown and Waco to rev up Clinton supporters that the Clinton campaign has “not raised any of the challenges.”

“A lot of our supporters have,” he added.

Mr. Obama has fared better overall in caucuses this year, winning 13 to Mrs. Clinton’s three.

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