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Election 2008: On the Campaign Trail

Clinton Denies Plans to Concede Race to Obama

Amid pressure from fellow Democrats and published reports to the contrary, Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign denied Tuesday morning that she will concede that Sen. Barack Obama has enough delegates to secure the party's presidential nomination.

Responding to an Associated Press story fueling speculation that such a concession was imminent, the campaign issued this statement: "The AP story is incorrect. Senator Clinton will not concede the nomination this evening."

The former first lady does plan a speech Tuesday night from New York City to mark the end of the five-month-long primary season.

Obama is widely expected to reach the 2,118-delegate threshold by gaining superdelegate support in addition to the delegates he wins in Tuesday's South Dakota and Montana Democratic primaries.

Clinton said Monday that Obama could get a majority of the delegates now at stake. But as for the total number of delegates needed to win the nomination, the Clinton campaign refuses to concede that 2,118 is the "magic" number.

Clinton campaign officials told reporters Monday — including NPR's David Greene — that they reserve the right to appeal the Michigan delegate allocation that was approved by a DNC committee this past weekend. A senior Clinton official told NPR Tuesday morning that nothing has changed.

The Clinton campaign maintains that she is ahead in the popular vote. This is only true if the disputed Michigan numbers (where Obama was not on the ballot) are counted — and if four caucus states won by Obama are not counted.

There is not a single certain popular vote tally because the oddities of caucuses and Michigan, but a more conventional rendering has Obama slightly ahead in a close, high turn out contest.

Meanwhile, Rep. James E. Clyburn, an influential Democratic superdelegate, threw his support behind Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy Tuesday, telling NPR that it's time to make his position clear for the good of the party.

The house majority whip could sway other superdelegates as Democrats hope to tie up a bitter primary contest and mend fences ahead of the party's August nominating convention in Denver.

Clyburn, of South Carolina, told NPR's Tell Me More that he hopes his support will prompt other superdelegates to declare for Obama, so the Illinois senator "can go before the American public and respond to voters, and do that tonight" as the Democratic candidate.

"Tonight is the night he has scheduled his big speech. He would like to say some things to the American public and declare victory tonight," Clyburn said, answering a question about why he declared his support before results from Tuesday's Montana and South Dakota primaries were known. "I think it's time for us to chart a new course, draw a new map, get rid of conventional wisdom and move ahead."

Many superdelegates, who make up about 20 percent of the total Democratic nominating delegates, have waited until the end of the long primary season before declaring their support for a candidate. Clyburn's move could prompt others to quickly follow suit.

Clinton has vowed to take the fight to the nominating convention and in recent months pointed to various calculations to show that she is close to Obama in the delegate count. Clyburn dismissed the numbers from her campaign as "Clinton math."

Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe told NBC's Today show Tuesday that once Obama gets the majority of convention delegates, "I think Hillary Clinton will congratulate him and call him the nominee."