Page last updated at 01:55 GMT, Sunday, 1 June 2008 02:55 UK

Democrats deal is Clinton setback

The Democratic party's rules and bylaws committee votes on Florida
Committee members voted after three hours of talks

Hillary Clinton's efforts to secure the Democratic Party's nomination for president have suffered a setback.

The party took a compromise decision to allow delegates from Florida and Michigan - previously debarred from taking part - to attend its convention.

However, although this increases Mrs Clinton's support, the delegates will only have half a vote each.

She is still trailing Barack Obama, who remains the clear leader in the race for the nomination.

Clinton adviser Harold Ickes, a member of the committee which took the votes on Florida and Michigan, said she reserved the right to appeal against the decisions.

But, barring appeals, Mr Obama's victory looks more certain than ever, says the BBC's Jamie Coomarasamy in Washington.

Rules broken

The votes by the party's rules and bylaws committee took place amid heated exchanges between Clinton and Obama supporters.

Justin Webb
I am told the big push is to get enough super-delegates to endorse Obama within the next few hours so that the actual victory is delivered by the electors in Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday
North America Editor, Justin Webb

Mrs Clinton wanted the committee, meeting in the ballroom of a Washington hotel, to overturn a previous decision and allow delegates from Florida and Michigan to vote at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Delegates to that convention, chosen in votes in each state, will decide which politician becomes the Democratic Party candidate in November's presidential election.

Officially, Mrs Clinton won both states, but both were initially discounted because they held their primaries in January, in contravention of party rules.

Neither candidate campaigned in the contests, and in Michigan, Mr Obama's name was not even on the ballot.

Hillary Clinton campaigns in Catano, Puerto Rico, on 31 May
Hillary Clinton was campaigning in Puerto Rico on Saturday

The compromise gives Mrs Clinton 69 delegates in Michigan, compared to Mr Obama's 59. And in Florida, she gains 105 delegates to Mr Obama's 67.

This reduces Mr Obama's lead - previously 202 - by 48, but the delegates from Michigan and Florida will only have half a vote each, so her gains are reduced.

The 27-member committee unanimously accepted the compromise decision for Florida, after earlier rejecting by 15-12 a plan which would give all delegates full voting rights at the convention.

In the case of Michigan, the committee approved the compromise by 19-8.

Overall, Mrs Clinton gains only 24 delegate votes, far short of the total she needs to catch Mr Obama.

'Denver, Denver'

Mrs Clinton is still hoping to persuade undecided "super-delegates" that she should be the party's nominee.

Mr Obama speaks about the delegate decision on Florida and Michigan

Her adviser Mr Ickes accused the committee of "hijacking" votes for Mrs Clinton.

"Mrs Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee," he added.

The Obama campaign greeted Saturday's votes as a "fair solution that will allow Michigan and Florida to participate" in the party convention in Denver in August.

During the day's voting, Clinton supporters chanted "Denver, Denver" - implying the Clinton-Obama contest will drag on until the convention - and "Madame President, Madame President".

Two women could be heard shouting at each other to "shut up".

An appeal for party unity was jeered by one heckler with the words "Lipstick on a pig!"

Puerto Rico votes on Sunday, followed by Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday - the last three Democrat primaries of the season.

Electoral College votes

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

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