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Clinton, Obama pick up new superdelegates

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: In TV interview, Clinton calls Wright's comments "offensive and outrageous"
  • NEW: CNN "poll of polls" shows tight race nationwide between Clinton, Obama
  • Obama picks up 5 new superdelegates, Clinton garners 4 more
  • is launching a new attack on Sen. John McCain
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama, hoping to put the controversy over his former pastor behind him, is getting some good news: five more superdelegates in the past 24 hours.

Sen. Hillary Clinton picked up four superdelegates within the same time period.

The endorsements come after Obama's speech Tuesday condemning his former pastor's comments on the September 11 attacks and AIDS.

In his harshest criticism yet of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama said he was "outraged" by his comments Monday at the National Press Club and "saddened by the spectacle." Video Watch Obama's comments »

Clinton said Wednesday that she personally took offense to Wright's recent comments, the New York senator's harshest assessment of the minister.

"I think it's offensive and outrageous. I'm going to express my opinion; others can express theirs," Clinton told Fox's Bill O'Reilly. "It is part of just, you know, an atmosphere we're in today."

But the Wright controversy hasn't stopped endorsements from superdelegates. One of them, Indiana Rep. Baron Hill, endorsed Obama on Wednesday morning, citing his "strength of character and ability to change the tone of Washington."

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"I am truly hopeful that his campaign and election will help unify our nation and ultimately change our politics," the Democrat said in a news release.

Another superdelegate, Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley, also endorsed Obama for president Wednesday, an Obama aide said. Braley is a first-term Democratic congressman who represents an eastern district that hugs the Illinois border.

Also Wednesday, California Rep. Lois Capps, a superdelegate, co-chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues and mother-in-law to Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, endorsed Obama.

She joins fellow Iowan and Democratic National Committee member Richard Machacek, also a superdelegate, in supporting Obama this week. Superdelegate Ben Chandler, a Kentucky representative, also announced that he is backing Obama.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley and Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, both superdelegates, endorsed Clinton on Tuesday. Video Watch more on Easley's endorsement »

Whether the Wright controversy is good news for Clinton's campaign or not, there is some better news for New York's junior senator.

Clinton's campaign announced Wednesday that Luisette Cabanas, a superdelegate from Puerto Rico, announced her support for Clinton, "giving the campaign the majority of automatic delegates on the island."

The campaign also announced that Pennsylvania AFL-CIO president and superdelegate Bill George announced his support for Clinton on Tuesday, which could help her with working-class, blue-collar Democrats in the state.

"Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience to jump-start the economy and rebuild the middle class," George said in a statement released by Clinton's campaign.

Clinton and Obama both addressed the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO convention this month. Clinton defeated Obama in Pennsylvania's April 22 primary.

The superdelegate gains for both Clinton and Obama, along with key endorsements, may be helping Clinton stay competitive in the battleground state of Indiana.

According to CNN's latest count, Obama has a total of 1,730 delegates (pledged: 1,491, superdelegates: 239). Clinton has a total of 1,593 delegates (pledged: 1,332, superdelegates: 261)

A new CNN "poll of polls" released Wednesday shows a dead heat between the two Democrats nationwide: Obama with 45 percent, Clinton with 44 percent and 11 percent unsure.

The polls were taken April 24-29 and consist of three surveys: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics (April 28-29), Gallup (April 27-29) and Newsweek (April 24-25).

Obama's campaign, meanwhile, filed a formal complaint Wednesday over a pro-Clinton group running ads attacking the Illinois senator on jobs and the economy in Indiana.

The American Leadership Project, which includes veterans of the Clinton administration and longtime supporters, is a "527." That means it is not bound by federal campaign finance laws as long as it does not directly advocate on behalf of a particular candidate.

The group announced this week that it was planning to buy $700,000 worth of airtime in the state leading up to Tuesday's vote.

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign launched an ad in North Carolina featuring famed poet Maya Angelou, who has endorsed Clinton.

Angelou says Clinton "intends to help our country become what it can become," and she has found the person she thinks "would be the best president for the United States of America." Video Watch the ad »

Another campaign ad, which began airing Tuesday in North Carolina and Indiana, one week before the crucial May 6 primaries in both states, attacks Obama for not calling for a freeze on mortgage foreclosures and not supporting a suspension of the gas tax.

Clinton has called for a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures and $30 billion for an emergency housing fund. Video Watch more on the gas controversy »

Obama has called for a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund to help homeowners who are victims of mortgage fraud sell their homes or modify their loans to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, will soon face a negative attack ad.

The 30-second spot will begin airing Monday. The ad features five candles on a cake that bears the words "Mission Accomplished." The candles multiply until they reach 100, as McCain is heard saying the American people would not be concerned if U.S. troops remain in Iraq for 100 years. The MoveOn spot closes with a picture of President Bush and McCain hugging.

The ad, paid for exclusively by MoveOn's political action committee and its small donor contributors, will run for a week. Video Watch MoveOn's ad »

McCain is also facing some criticism from the man largely credited for organizing a campaign to defeat McCain in 2000.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, former top Bush adviser Karl Rove called McCain "one of the most private individuals to run for president in history" and said the presumptive Republican nominee must reveal more about his unique life story in order to win the presidency.

"Private people like Mr. McCain are rare in politics for a reason," Rove writes. "Candidates who are uncomfortable sharing their interior lives limit their appeal. But if Mr. McCain is to win the election this fall, he has to open up."


Specifically, Rove says McCain should reveal more about his wartime heroics and days as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"Unless he opens up more, many voters will never know the experiences of his life that show his character, integrity and essential decency." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN political editor Mark Preston, CNN associate political editor Rebecca Sinderbrand and CNN political producers Ed Hornick and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

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