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Key Clinton ally defects to Obama

Maggie Hansen

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THE US Congressman John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Hillary Clinton's most prominent black supporters, said he planned to cast his vote as a super-delegate for Barack Obama in the hope of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention.

"In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit," said Mr Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Senator Clinton last year. "Something is happening in America and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap."

Mr Lewis, who carries great influence among other members of Congress, disclosed his decision on Thursday. His comments came as fresh signs emerged that Senator Clinton's support was beginning to erode from some other black politicians who also serve as super-delegates.

Another Georgian Congressman, David Scott, who was among the first to defect, said he would not go against the will of voters in his district, who overwhelmingly supported Senator Obama last week.

The developments came on a day in which Senator Clinton set out anew to prove the fight for the Democratic nomination was far from over. Campaigning in Ohio, she pursued a new strategy of biting attack lines against Senator Obama, while adopting a newly populist tone as she courted blue-collar voters.

Senator Clinton also intensified her efforts in Wisconsin, which holds its primary on Tuesday and where she and Senator Obama now have the first duelling negative television advertisements of the campaign.

In the ads, Senator Clinton taunted Senator Obama for refusing to debate her. She and Bill Clinton prepared a new fund-raising blitz to try to counter Senator Obama's edge of several million dollars in campaign cash.

The New York Times

Jeff Zeleny and Patrick Healy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

February 16, 2008

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