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Obama Gains 14 More Delegates

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

COUNTY CONVENTIONS

Obama Gains 14 More Delegates

CHICAGO -- On a day when Sen. Barack Obama picked up more pledged delegates in Iowa and California, the senator from Illinois told a crowd in suburban Indianapolis on Saturday that it is time to turn away from the "forces of division," and to choose instead "a different path that says: We have different stories, but we have common dreams and common hopes."

The escalating bitterness in the Democratic presidential campaign provided a tart subtext to Obama's speech before about 3,200 people in Plainfield, Ind.

Obama spent much of Friday distancing himself from comments on race by his former pastor, and he alluded to that Saturday, saying: "When people say things like my former pastor said, you have to speak out forcefully against them. But what you also have to do is remember what Bobby Kennedy said: that it is within our power to join together to truly make a United States of America."

While Obama was speaking in Indiana, thousands of Democrats in Iowa were taking part in county conventions, the second step in allocating the state's delegates to the national convention.

Obama gained eight of the 14 delegates won in the Jan. 3 caucuses by former senator John Edwards, who has since dropped out of the Democratic presidential race, along with one won by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to the Obama campaign. Caucus-night projections showed Obama getting 16 delegates and Clinton 15.

With the other six Edwards delegates standing firm, Obama's camp claimed 25 delegates from Iowa, compared with 14 for Clinton. The Associated Press reported late Saturday that, in final counts from California's Feb. 5 primary, Clinton picked up two more pledged delegates and Obama gained five.

According to AP's count, the Iowa and California results give Obama a national lead of 119 pledged delegates and superdelegates over Clinton.

"This is a very significant improvement for us," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said, referring to the Iowa result.

If the numbers hold at the June 14 state convention, Obama will have won more than half of Iowa's delegates. On Jan. 3, he was backed by 39 percent of caucusgoers, compared with 30 percent for Edwards and 29 percent for Clinton.

-- Peter Slevin

FIRST LADY EXPERIENCE

Clinton Defends White House Record

PITTSBURGH -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday stood by statements that she helped along the peace process in Northern Ireland and the creation of a health-care program for low-income children in the United States.

Clinton's rejoinder came after some accused her last week of overstating her role in some of the successes of her husband's administration.

"I actually went to Belfast more than Bill," Clinton (D-N.Y.) told reporters on her presidential campaign plane. Her role in Northern Ireland's 1998 negotiations between Protestant and Catholic factions seems to have been as an engaged participant in the peace talks but not as one of the chief negotiators. She says she has remained involved in the issue, meeting last week with Britain's secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

Clinton added that that she "was very much involved in helping create" the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) provided much of the energy behind getting the bill signed in 1997, although the Clinton administration and the former first lady supported the idea. Clinton declined to directly answer whether SCHIP would have become law had she not been in the White House.

Aides to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have focused increasingly in recent days on Clinton's claims of experience during her husband's White House tenure. Hillary Clinton visited more than 80 countries as first lady, but she did not have a foreign policy staff or any major initiatives on foreign policy.

Clinton's remarks about Northern Ireland came on a day when she appeared at St. Patrick's Day parades in Pittsburgh and Scranton, Pa. The Keystone State will hold the next Democratic presidential primary, on April 22.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.


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