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A battle for the Democratic endorsement in Philly

  • Story Highlights
  • Democratic politicians in Philadelphia split on endorsing Clinton, Obama
  • Pennsylvania holds primaries on April 22; 158 delegates at stake
  • Clinton already has support from Philadelphia mayor, state's governor
  • Obama has support from Iraq war vet-turned Rep. Patrick Murphy
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From Mary Snow
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- As Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton move their campaigns to Pennsylvania ahead of the state's April 22 primary, a battle is brewing in Philadelphia Democratic circles about whom to endorse.

Sen. Barack Obama maintains his lead in the battle for pledged delegates.

In fact, a recent routine meeting of Democrats in Philadelphia turned into a battleground in the race for the state's 158 delegates.

On March 7, in a meeting closed to the press, former President Bill Clinton went before 69 ward leaders seeking their political blessing for his wife's candidacy.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter -- a Sen. Clinton supporter -- said the former president received a warm reception.

"There is still no one better delivering a message and explaining what's going on in this country," Nutter said.

Those who attended said the former president spoke about the economy and health care and did not attack his wife's rival.

Following the president came Iraq veteran-turned-Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy making his case for Obama.

With Clinton already sealing the endorsement of the Nutter and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Murphy is bracing for a battle.

"This is going to be a dog fight. But the fact is that Sen. Obama continues to be the underdog all over in every state in America and has won more states, has got more volunteers and has generated more enthusiasm than we've seen in a generation," Murphy said.

Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic chairman, is staying neutral. He says the committee voted not to endorse anyone for now and says the Democratic leaders remain split. Video Watch more on the endorsement fight »

"There are friends sitting in that room with an Obama button sitting right next to a Clinton button laughing back and forth and they're still walking out and laughing back and forth," Brady said. "When you endorse somebody in this type of election, they may not be doing that."

Temple University political science professor Michael Hagen says securing the endorsement of the Democratic city council carries weight as winning support in Philadelphia is key to winning the state's primary.

"It's an extremely Democratic city ... certainly the most Democratic part of Pennsylvania," Hagen said.


Philadelphia is Pennsylvania's largest city, and is expected to bring fierce competition between Obama and Clinton.

Democrats are working on getting both candidates to come to Philadelphia to make direct appeals to Democratic leaders and debate before the April 22 primary. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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