Clinton claims victory in Puerto Rico

08:51, 02 June 2008
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But Obama leads in the overall delegate count

Sen. Hillary Clinton claimed victory in Puerto Rico on Sunday and insisted that she is leading Sen. Barack Obama in the popular vote, according to CNN.

Clinton won 68 percent of the vote compared with Obama`s 32 percent. Her vote tally was 263,120; his was 121,458.

The win gives Clinton the larger share of Puerto Rico`s 55 delegates.

The Democratic primary season ends Tuesday when Montana and South Dakota cast their votes.

"When the voting concludes on Tuesday, neither Sen. Obama nor I will have the number of delegates to be the nominee," she said in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"I will lead the popular vote; he will maintain a slight lead in the delegate count," she said.

Obama leads in the overall delegate count -- 2,070 to Clinton`s 1,915.

A candidate needs 2,118 to claim the Democratic nomination.

The Clinton campaign has been focusing on the popular vote as it tries to convince superdelegates to pick her instead of Obama. The superdelegates are a group of about 800 party leaders and officials who vote at the convention for the candidate of their choice.

But the popular vote count is debatable.

If all the primary results including Florida and Michigan are counted, but not the caucus votes, Clinton leads in the popular vote 17,461,845 to Obama`s 17,244,762, according to CNN estimates.

That number includes giving Obama all the "uncommitted" votes from Michigan.

Florida and Michigan were stripped of their delegates for scheduling their primaries too early. Clinton won both states, but Obama`s name was not even on the ballot in Michigan.

The Democratic National Committee decided Saturday to reinstate all of Florida and Michigan`s delegates to the national convention, with each delegate getting a half-vote to penalize the two states for holding their primaries earlier than party rules allowed.

The DNC`s Rules and Bylaws Committee`s move gave Clinton 87 delegates and Obama 63.

In a second scenario, which adds in CNN`s estimate of the caucus-goers, Obama leads Clinton 17,928,000 to 17,843,000.

And in a third scenario, which includes all of the caucuses but does not give Obama Michigan`s "uncommitted" vote, Clinton leads 17,873,000 to 17,703,000.

Obama campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs expressed confidence that Obama would clinch the nomination in the coming days.

"If not Tuesday, I think it will be fairly soon," he said Sunday on ABC`s "This Week."

"We hope this week, absolutely," he added.

At a campaign stop in Mitchell, South Dakota, Obama congratulated Clinton for her win Sunday and praised her for being an "outstanding public servant."

"She is going to be a great asset when we go into November to make sure that we defeat the Republicans," he said.

As Clinton tries to win over the undecided superdelegates, she argued Sunday that she would be the stronger candidate to face Republican John McCain in the fall.

"In the final assessment, I ask you to consider these questions: Which candidate best represents the will of the people who voted in this historic primary? Which candidate is best able to lead us to victory in November? And which candidate is best able to lead our nation as our president in the face of unprecedented challenges at home and abroad?"

In the Puerto Rico primary, Clinton swept Obama in every major demographic group, including groups Obama generally wins, such as younger voters and higher-income voters, according to CNN`s exit polls.

CNN estimated turnout to be between 325,000 and 425,000.

"Most people in Puerto Rico, I would venture to guess, they are not even aware that there`s a primary going on," said Luis Pabón-Roca, a local political analyst.

Part of the reason for the lack of interest, he said, is because voters feel the primary isn`t meaningful since Puerto Ricans cannot vote in the general election.

The Democratic and Republican parties run the primaries and caucuses, and they allow U.S. territories, such as the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, to take part in the process.

But only the 50 states and the District of Columbia vote in the general election.


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