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High-profile Obama backers urge Clinton to quit

  • Story Highlights
  • Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Chris Dodd call on Clinton to drop out
  • Leahy: Clinton "has every right, but not a very good reason, to stay in race"
  • Obama campaign denied responsibility for the Dodd and Leahy comments
  • Clinton says poll shows that people want to vote for nominee
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A pair of high-profile backers of Sen. Barack Obama have called on his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, to drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, issued the most unvarnished statement Friday, saying Clinton "has every right, but not a very good reason, to remain a candidate for as long as she wants to."

Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who sought the Democratic nomination for president himself but threw his support behind Obama after dropping out of the race in January, expressed a similar sentiment Thursday.

"I mean, if a person wants to stay in the race, stay in the race," he told the National Journal, a Washington magazine.

"But if you have enough people rallying behind what appears to be the likely choice, and I believe the choice is Barack Obama ... then I think you have to step up to the plate and say, 'Enough is enough.' We want this to be over with."

Larry Sabato, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia, said the Obama campaign was probably behind the remarks.

"Those things don't just happen," he said. "They must have gotten some encouragement from the Obama hierarchy. Senators like Leahy and Dodd can occasionally pop off, but not in a situation like this."

The Obama campaign denied responsibility for the Dodd and Leahy comments. Obama has said it is not for others to say when a candidate should get out of the race. Video Watch more on the Democratic primary divisions »

Sabato said he thought the interventions were ill-timed, regardless of who is responsible.

"She's going to win handily in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Puerto Rico," Sabato predicted, referring to nominating contests coming up before June 3, when primary season ends.

At an event in Mishawaka, Indiana, Clinton discussed her chances of winning the Democratic nomination.

"There are some people who are saying, you know, 'We really ought to end this primary; we ought to just shut down,' " Clinton said. "There was a poll the other day that said ... let people vote."

Obama has 1,625 delegates to Clinton's 1,486, according to the latest CNN estimate.

"When you're still winning primaries, you don't drop out. There is almost no chance either one is going to drop out; we are going to go through the primaries," Sabato said. Video Watch DNC Chairman Howard Dean's comments on the race »

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But Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who is not backing either candidate, advised against predicting how the Obama-Clinton battle will end.

"We are in uncharted waters," he said, pointing out that there is little precedent for two candidates to be so close in the number of delegates backing them at this stage. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Barack ObamaHillary ClintonDemocratic Party

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