Superdelegates Being Courted By Big Names

With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama locked in a tight battle for the Democratic presidential nomination - the latest CBS News delegate count puts Obama at 1,139 and Clinton at 1,132 - it is the Democratic Party insiders known as superdelegates, who are not bound by the votes of the rank-and-file, who could decide the party's nominee.

Three superdelegates spoke to CBS News Early Show Anchor Harry Smith this morning about how the campaigns are courting them and the decision they have to make about which candidate to support.

Jason Rae, a junior at Marquette University, is, at 21, the youngest superdelegate. Despite the fact the he was personally lobbied by Chelsea Clinton over breakfast, he said he has not made up his mind over which candidate to support.

Rae told Smith that the lobbying by Clinton and others hasn't been the "hard sell" variety.

"They haven't been pressing me in any sense," he said. "They've just been talking to me like an average voter. The same thing that happens when candidates go to Iowa and New Hampshire and court votes there. It's the same thing with superdelegates."

David Hardt, president of the Young Democrats Of America and a superdelegate from Texas, said he has received personal phone calls from Bill and Hillary Clinton and met privately with Chelsea Clinton.

"When your cell phone lights up and they say that President Clinton is on the phone, your reaction is what?," Smith asked him.

"Oh, this is a joke," Hardt said. "Someone's playing a joke on me. Until you hear his voice, and his voice is unmistakable. You know, I was caught off guard, but a chance to chit-chat with the former president of the United States is just an amazing opportunity."

Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the Connecticut Democratic Party, also got a call from Clinton - while she was driving. She, too, first thought it was a joke.

Though superdelegates are ostensibly independent, a close race means that they may well be pressured by the campaigns, their peers, and other members of their party. Nonetheless, Rae said his decision over whom to support would be a personal one.

"I think in the end it has to come down to me deciding for myself who I personally think is the best candidate is for the party," he said.
  • CBSNews

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