Local Politics

Obama Visits Edwards in Chapel Hill

Posted February 17, 2008 5:56 p.m. EST
Updated February 18, 2008 11:40 p.m. EST

— Barack Obama visited with John and Elizabeth Edwards at their Chapel Hill home Sunday.

The meeting came about after the Illinois senator had to cancel an afternoon campaign trip to Kaukauna, Wis., due to bad weather.

Aids said Obama and former Democratic presidential candidate Edwards discussed the state of the campaign and the pressing issues facing American families.

Edwards dropped out of the Democratic presidential nomination race just before the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses on Feb. 5, leaving the field to Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Edwards has remained silent as to whether he will endorse one of his former opponents.

Before leaving the race, Edwards won promises from both Clinton and Obama to make ending poverty central to their campaigns for the White House. Both were quick to praise him the next day at a debate in Los Angeles.

Edwards' adviser John Moylan said Clinton came to Chapel Hill over a week ago to meet with Edwards. After her private meeting, Clinton flew to Maine and told voters she intends to ask Edwards to be a part of anything she does in the White House.

Edwards spent much of his presidential race criticizing Clinton, however, and at times teamed with Obama to criticize her for accepting donations from lobbyists.

As of last Thursday, The Associated Press delegate count stood at 1,276 for Obama and 1,220 for Clinton. It takes 2,025 delegates to win the nomination. Some organizations count the delegates differently.

Before leaving the Democratic presidential nomination race, Edwards had won 26 delegates. Rules require six to go to Obama, while Clinton gets four. Edwards decides to whom the other 16 will go.

Typically, by the time the North Carolina primary rolls around in May, the front-runners are a foregone conclusion.

This year, though, the tight race between Clinton and Obama could keep either from holding a majority of delegates by the state's May 6 primary.

If so, the state's 134 Democratic delegates could make all the difference.

Both campaigns are also furiously lobbying for support among the Democratic Party's nearly 800 superdelegates, who will be free to support whomever they choose at the convention, regardless of the outcome of the primaries. Superdelegates include all Democratic members of Congress, Democratic governors and other party officials.

North Carolina has 19 superdelegates. Two will be elected at the state convention in June. Nine are Democratic National Committee members. Seven are members of Congress, and one is Gov. Mike Easley.

The Republican Party also has uncommitted delegates at its National Convention. However, most analysts expect the primaries will have determined the GOP nominee before then.

None of the other former Democratic presidential candidates – Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson or Dennis Kucinich – have endorsed Obama or Clinton, reflecting the party's split over who would be the best president.