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Hillary wins Puerto Rico, still trails

world Updated: Jun 02, 2008 23:00 IST

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Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nominating contest in Puerto Rico on Sunday, but still badly trails front-runner Barack Obama as he draws closer to clinching the party’s presidential race.

Hillary’s win in Puerto Rico, a territory where residents are not allowed to vote in the November election, gave her more fuel for her argument that she has won more popular votes in the five-month nominating fight and is the best Democrat to face Republican John McCain.

But the results pushed Obama closer to the magic number of 2,118 delegates needed to become the nominee, and the Illinois senator already has turned his attention to a general election fight with McCain.

Contests on Tuesday in Montana and South Dakota, with 31 pledged delegates to the August nominating convention at stake, conclude the voting in the Democratic presidential race.

Obama is about 45 delegates shy of securing the nomination and could reach the number quickly with help from some of the approximately 180 uncommitted superdelegates — party officials who can back any candidate.

Hillary made a direct appeal to those delegates on Sunday, saying they should consider her argument that she would have the best chance to beat McCain and had won more votes than Obama. "More people across the country have voted for our campaign.
We are winning the popular vote," Hillary said during a loud victory celebration in San Juan, Puerto Rico. "I do not envy the decision you must make," she said.

Hillary’s claims about the popular vote are disputed by the Obama campaign and do not include states won by Obama that used a caucus system where individual votes are not tallied.