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Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 11:02 UK

Democratic rivals target Florida

Hillary Clinton 20-05-2008
Hillary Clinton faces an uphill struggle in her fight for delegates

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been campaigning in Florida, as they vie to be the Democratic Party's candidate in the US presidential poll.

Mr Obama, who is close to securing the nomination, targeted the Republicans' presumptive candidate, John McCain.

Mrs Clinton used her visit to demand that Florida's delegates, who have been barred from the national convention in August, should be given seats.

Mrs Clinton failed to dent her rival's lead during primaries on Tuesday.

She won Kentucky's contest by a wide margin, but Mr Obama convincingly carried Oregon.

He is credited with a total of about 1,960 delegates - including party officials called "super-delegates" - and Mrs Clinton with about 1,780.

Correspondents say Mr Obama will be hoping that his lead will persuade the undecided super-delegates to rally behind him.

DEMOCRATIC DELEGATES
Pledged delegates: 3,253
Super-delegates: 797
Total delegates needed for nomination: 2,026
Delegates for Barack Obama: 1,962 (1,653 pledged, 309 super-delegates)
Delegates for Hillary Clinton: 1,779 (1,499 pledged, 280 super-delegates)
Source: Associated Press, 0800 GMT on 22 May

Mrs Clinton, meanwhile, is trying to get the Democratic Party to reverse its decision to exclude Florida's delegates from the national convention, in a dispute over the timing of the state primary in January.

Neither candidate campaigned in the state, but Mrs Clinton won most votes.

During a rally in Boca Raton on Wednesday, she said Florida voters were being unfairly punished.

"The people who voted did nothing wrong," she said.

"The rules clearly state we can count all these votes and seat all these candidates."

'Respect'

Mrs Clinton is also fighting to reinstate delegates from the Michigan primary.

She won there as well, although Mr Obama had taken his name off that ballot.

Barack Obama in Tampa, Florida, 21-05-2008
Frontrunner Barack Obama is focusing on the final contest

Mr Obama, for his part, praised Mrs Clinton in an apparent effort to rally Democrats ahead of the November election.

"Senator Clinton has run an outstanding campaign and she deserves our admiration and our respect," he said at a rally in Tampa.

The Illinois senator also used his visit to Florida, which will be a key state in the presidential election, to criticise Mr McCain, calling him new version of President George W Bush.

"We can't afford four more years of George Bush foreign policy, that's why we can't afford John McCain," he said.

The remaining contests are in Puerto Rico, on 1 June, followed two days later by South Dakota and Montana.

Mrs Clinton has promised to stay in the race until voting ends.

For his part, Mr McCain is set to meet at least three potential running mates this weekend.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Massachusetts Governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and their wives have all been invited to a gathering at Mr McCain's home in Arizona.

The invitations have fuelled speculation that Mr McCain is pressing ahead in his search for a vice-president.

However, a senior aide to the senator said that the issue of a possible vice-presidential candidate was not on the agenda.

"It's purely social," said Mark Salter.


Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
365
McCain - Republican
173
Select from the list below to view state level results.


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