Obama , Clinton Should Stay in Race Until June, Supporters Say

Obama ,   Clinton Should Stay in Race Until June, Supporters Say

( Bloomberg )- Supporters of Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said neither candidate should feel compelled to leave the race until June, after all states have held their nominating contests.

Clinton, who trails Obama in total votes and pledged delegates, has spent the last four days rejecting calls to drop out of the race from politicians who say she can't overcome Obama's lead in delegates for the nomination. Clinton told the Washington Post yesterday that she may continue running until the Democratic nominating convention in August.

``She has every right to stay in the race,'' New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who's supporting Obama , said today on the CBS ``Face the Nation'' program. ``But I think it's important, at the end of the June 3 date, we look at who has the most delegates, who has the most popular vote, who has the most states.''

The last Democratic primaries, in Montana and South Dakota, are held June 3. Meanwhile Clinton and Obama are preparing for the next round of nominating contests, starting with Pennsylvania on April 22. Indiana and North Carolina voters go to the polls two weeks later.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who backs Clinton, said Obama's supporters should resist demands for her to step down until all states have weighed in, including Michigan and Florida. Michigan and Florida lost the right to send delegates to the national convention because the two states moved up their primaries in violation of party rules.

Both Clinton and Obama , an Illinois senator, agreed not to campaign in Michigan and Florida, and he took his name off the Michigan ballot. Clinton, a New York senator, won both primaries and has argued that not including the results will disenfranchise voters and hurt Democratic chances of beating the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, in the November general election.

``It's a disgrace that the Obama forces say, `Well, he's won the popular vote so he should be the nominee,''' Rendell said on ABC News's ``This Week'' program. ``Senator Clinton's going to eat into the popular vote. If Michigan and Florida actually voted again, Senator Clinton would come out on top of the popular vote.''

Neither Obama , 48, nor Clinton, 60, is likely to end up with enough delegates allocated by primaries and caucuses to win the nomination. Therefore, the nominee will be decided by superdelegates , almost 800 Democratic Party officials and lawmakers who aren't bound by nominating contest results.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said March 28 that Clinton should quit for the good of the party as it prepares to challenge McCain. Clinton argues that she's the most electable Democratic candidate because she's won big states such as Ohio, and polls show she is also favored in Pennsylvania.

``Hillary Clinton has every right in the world to continue to fight, but the important thing is to be fighting against John McCain and not to be destructive in this campaign,'' Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said on ``This Week.'' Kerry, who backs Obama , was the Democratic Party's presidential candidate in 2004.

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