Obama picks up delegates

RENO - Barack Obama on Saturday picked up one additional Nevada delegate, stealing it from rival Hillary Rodham Clinton by drawing more supporters to the party's state convention.

A vote of more than 2,500 convention delegates broke 55-45 percent in Obama's favor, giving Obama 14 of Nevada's 25 pledged delegates to the National Democratic Convention in Denver this summer to Clinton's 11.

The shift is a gain of one pledged delegate for Obama over the split calculated after the state's January caucuses. Although Clinton won the support of 51 percent of the caucus-goers in January, under the complicated system of awarding delegates Obama was put on track to winning 13 delegates to Clinton's 12.

The state convention vote has typically been a little-watched process conducted well after the party has rallied behind its nominee. It took on new intensity this year as the race between the two Democratic presidential candidates remained unsettled.

The party also named an additional unpledged, or "add-on," delegate.

Rusty McAllister, the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada, said he was uncommitted in the race. He said he caucused for Obama in January, after his first choice, Chris Dodd, failed to win enough support in his caucus.

The International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed Dodd in the primary and did not back another candidate after the Connecticut senator dropped out.

"Let's let the race finish out," McAllister told reporters. "Let's let the process takes it's place and when it's done we'll have a candidate."

McAllister said he did not expect to make a decision before the August convention, unless one of the candidates dropped out.

Saturday's vote was the final step in the state's three-step delegate selection process.

Obama was expected to make gains. His supporters are energized by the Illinois senator's solid lead over Clinton in pledged delegates to the national convention, and his campaign has been projecting an air of inevitability. In Nevada, he fared better than Clinton in northern Nevada and may have found it easier to corral supporters to Reno.

Clinton's Nevada campaign chairman Rory Reid downplayed the significance of the shift.

"It's one delegate out of 3,000. To suggest this is a sea change for either campaign is hyperbole," Reid said, acknowledging enthusiasm among Clinton supporters is dampening. "If you turn on the TV and everyone is saying that it's over, that affects people's moods."

In an attempt to draw delegates, the Clinton campaign sent the New York senator's most popular surrogate to speak on her behalf: her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Faced with a vocal crowd of Obama backers, Clinton all but abandoned typical campaign rhetoric. He mentioned his wife's candidacy only briefly, and instead focused his comments on a call for party unity against the Republicans in November.


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