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Obama visits House of Representatives

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Barack Obama visited the House of Representatives on Thursday
  • He denied he was campaigning, claiming he was "just saying hello"
  • "If they [members] have questions for me ... happy to respond to them," he said
  • CNN's latest estimate, Obama has 1,848 total delegates to Clinton's 1,685
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama was greeted enthusiastically on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, where the Democratic presidential candidate spent about half an hour chatting with members.

He denied campaigning, claiming he was "just saying hello," but said he "let them know we'd love to have their support."

"There are some undecideds" in the House, Obama said as he was leaving. "If they have questions for me, then I'm certainly happy to respond to them."

Obama's huge victory over Sen. Hillary Clinton in North Carolina's Democratic primary Tuesday, coupled with a narrow loss in Indiana, put him within striking distance of the number of delegates he needs to cement the nomination. Video Watch the latest on the Democratic primary race »

A flood of endorsements from superdelegates -- a group that includes all Democratic members of Congress -- could virtually end the race. There are more than 70 undeclared Democrats in the House. Obama is 179 delegates short of clinching the nomination.

On Thursday, Obama picked up two new superdelegates -- Rep. Brad Miller, D-North Carolina, and Representative Rick Larsen, D-Washington.

According to CNN's latest estimate, Obama now has 1,848 total delegates to Clinton's 1,685.

Members of Congress surrounded Obama when he arrived through a side entrance on the Democratic side of the floor.

He gave big hug to his supporter, Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, and spoke with other backers -- including Reps. Adam Schiff and Zoe Lofgren of California and Kathy Castor of Florida.

He also spoke to Clinton supporters -- Reps. Kendrick Meek of Florida and Yvette Clarke of New York.

At least one Republican congressman greeted him as he walked out of the chamber, Chip Pickering of Mississippi, who appeared to be with two of his sons.

Meanwhile, several members of a group of conservative Democrats, known as "Blue Dogs," discussed with CNN their visit Thursday morning with Obama.

Rep. Baron Hill, D-Indiana, an Obama supporter, said when he walked out of the meeting, two of his colleagues told him, "Wow. We know why you endorsed him." Hill declined to name the members.

Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Florida, who is undeclared, said Obama gave his assessment of the race and outlined which of the upcoming races he could win and which ones he thought Clinton would win.

Obama, according to Mahoney, said after all these contests he would be ahead in the popular vote and in the delegates. The Florida Democrat said "in a nice way" Obama asked people for their support.

Mahoney said he pressed Obama to work out a solution soon to seat Florida's delegates. Mahoney said Obama "assured me that the full Florida delegation will have their hats on and be happy" at the convention.

Obama made clear he is willing to campaign through the remaining six contests if Clinton does not drop out before the last one June 3.

"Sen. Clinton is a formidable candidate. She is very likely to win West Virginia and Kentucky. Those are two states where she has insurmountable leads. We're going to have spend some time there. But we're also going to Oregon, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico," he said.

Clinton is thought to be in debt -- she said Wednesday she had lent her campaign $6.4 million of her own money in April, on top of $5 million earlier in the year -- and experts think it is very unlikely she could overtake Obama in the number of pledged delegates with so few contests remaining. But she has said she will fight on.

Obama said it is too soon to speculate on whether he would choose her as his vice presidential candidate.

"You know, I think it's premature for us to be thinking in that way because I don't know who the nominee is going to be. It's not yet resolved."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied the long-running contest is bad for the Democratic Party.

"I like combat, you know," she said at a news conference Thursday. "I think the best training for campaigning is campaigning. So I think as they have campaigned, the support in our country has grown for our Democratic message," she said, pointing to the unusually large turnout for Democratic primaries this year. "So, this is all very healthy."

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She said she did not know if Obama had been invited to the House.

Obama does not appear to have done any Senate business during his visit Thursday, although the upper chamber was voting on an amendment to the National Flood Insurance bill while he was in the building. Thursday marked his first appearance in Congress in several weeks.

CNN's Ted Barrett and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

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