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Published: Saturday, 2/9/2008

Clinton, Obama continue delegate chase


WASHINGTON - As voters in three states prepared to go to the polls today, the Democratic presidential front-runners continued their cross-country chase for delegates.

Hillary Clinton sought support from women, and Barack Obama predicted "twists and turns" in the race ahead.

Both campaigned in Washington state as they prepared for contests there and in Louisiana and Nebraska today. Caucuses will be held in Maine tomorrow, and three more primaries are scheduled for Tuesday.

Mrs. Clinton returned to her signature issue of health care as she met with nurses in Tacoma and worked to portray herself as the underdog. Her advisers asserted that she is in an uphill fight.

Mr. Obama toured a Seattle company that retrofits homes to make them more energy-efficient as he sought to appeal to liberal voters.

His campaign views Washington state as an ideal playing field, well-stocked with the kinds of voters - professionals and the young - who have flocked to the senator from Illinois in previous contests.

But with the Democratic campaigns settling in for a long haul, both sides are looking past the next few days.

Two distinct roadmaps are taking shape. Mr. Obama's strategy is geographically broad and depends on smaller states to help him amass delegates, while Mrs. Clinton is counting on a few delegate-rich states to carry her to the nomination.

The big prize is Washington and its 78 pledged delegates.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press analysis of Super Tuesday's voting results indicated that the race for Democratic delegates is still too close to call.

With nearly 1,600 delegates from Tuesday contests awarded, Mr. Obama led by two delegates last night. Another 91 delegates are still to be awarded.

Mr. Obama won 796 delegates in Tuesday's contests, to 794 for Mrs. Clinton, according to the AP count.

Nearly a third of the outstanding delegates are from Colorado, a state where Mr. Obama won the popular vote. California, a state that Mrs. Clinton carried, had 20 Democratic delegates still to be awarded.

Neither state expected to have complete results before next week.

Mr. Obama won the popular vote in 13 states Tuesday while Mrs. Clinton won in eight states and American Samoa.

In the overall race for the nomination, Mrs. Clinton has 1,055 delegates, and Mr. Obama has 998, with 2,025 needed to secure the nomination.

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