Florida, Michigan restored in blow to Clinton

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2008 (AFP) – The Democratic Party dealt a severe blow to Hillary Clinton’s fading White House hopes, restoring renegade states Michigan and Florida to its presidential convention, but with halved voting power. Barack Obama, 46 was left two giant strides closer to making history as the first black presidential nominee, with only three nominating contests to go before the primary calendar ends on Tuesday.

But on a day of pitched drama, Obama also took a heavy political hit, announcing he would quit his Chicago church, which has seen preachers fire off a string of racial rhetoric which rocked his campaign.

The Florida and Michigan compromise saw delegates apportioned to both candidates and scuppered Clinton’s hopes of making a significant dent in her rival’s formidable delegate lead.

The decision raised the finish line for the Democratic nominating contest 2,118 delegates, with Clinton gaining a net 24 delegates from Saturday’s two-state compromise.

That means Obama is within 66 delegates of the target with primaries in Puerto Rico Sunday and Montana and South Dakota Tuesday.

A total of 86 pledged delegates are on offer in the three states. There are nearly 200 “super-delegates” or top pa