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Democratic super delegates and their importance

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Samantha Hayes, Washington, D.C.

February 28th, 2008

In the race for the Democratic nomination, a lot of attention has been paid to the number of super delegates and who they are going to vote for.

Hillary Clinton found out Wednesday that one supporter she probably thought she could count on, is now a vote in Barack Obama's column.

Long time Georgia Congressman John Lewis says come August in Denver, Colorado, when the Democratic National Convention takes place, he will be casting his super delegate vote for Barack Obama.

It seems like a long time ago in the political world, but in October last year, Lewis endorsed Clinton saying she was the "best-prepared to lead this country at a time when we are in desperate need of strong leadership." His support was especially important heading into the South Carolina Democratic primary three months later when race and gender became heated issues.   Former President Bill Clinton praised  former UN Ambassador Andrew Young and John Lewis --- a hero of the civil rights movement ---  for supporting his wife's campaign.

In January, Lewis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he would not consider switching sides.   "It's unthinkable you make a commitment, you keep that commitment," he said.

On February 5th, Super Tuesday, Lewis continued to support Clinton during Georgia's Democratic primary.

But voters in his central Atlanta district did not. And African Americans across the country voted overwhelmingly for Obama.  He went on to win nearly a dozen contests in a row.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Lewis said, "there is a movement, there is a spirit, there is an enthusiasm in the hearts and minds of the American people that I have not seen in a long time, since the candidacy of Robert Kennedy."

So how is Hillary Clinton reacting to all of this? She told CNN's Candy Crowley that she will always be a friend of John Lewis and that she doesn't believe voters make choices based on endorsements. She also said she knew Lewis had been under a lot of pressure to support Obama following his string of a dozen primary and caucus victories.

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