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Akaka, Allen Endorse Obama

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) picked up four more superdelegates on Monday, including a veteran Democratic Senator, as media organizations show his overall superdelegate count now surpassing that of opponent Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), who is running for Senate, hitched their wagons to the Obama campaign nearly a week after his convincing win in the North Carolina primary and narrower-than-expected loss in Indiana.

The fight for superdelegates in the presidential contest is largely being fought on Capitol Hill, as House Members and Senators represent a major portion of the elected officials who will decide the hard-fought nominating contest.

After keeping mum for more than a year on which candidate he planned to endorse, Akaka announced his support for Obama on Monday, saying he is “the antidote we need to cure Washington of the uninspired, partisan politics that has plagued our country far too long.”

“I want to make it very clear that I hold both Sen. Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton in the highest regard as colleagues and friends,” said Akaka, who has served in Congress for more than 30 years.

“In an example of her leadership and commitment, Sen. Clinton has promised that come November, the Democratic Party will be united behind our presidential nominee, and I send her my fondest ‘aloha’ for her courage and selflessness.”

Also Monday, Allen said that while he has been friends with the Clintons “for a very long time,” primary voters have shown that they want Obama.

“It is time to bring a graceful end to the primary campaign,” said Allen, who is challenging Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). “We now need to unify the Democratic Party and focus on electing Sen. Obama and a working majority in the United States Senate.”

Obama also picked up endorsements from two other non-Congressional superdelegates: Hawaii superdelegate Dolly Strazar and Idaho Democratic Party Chairman R. Keith Roark.

“I have had and still do have the utmost respect for Sen. Hillary Clinton and the positive and uplifting force that both of the Clintons have been in Hawaii,” Strazer said.

However, she continued, “I am now convinced that it is time to pull together behind a single candidate who has the backing of a growing number of Americans. I therefore announce my wholehearted endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama.”

As noted on Obama’s campaign Web site, the endorsements mean that Obama is now 156 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination.

The endorsements come on the heels of counts by news organizations showing Obama taking the lead in superdelegates for the first time during the presidential campaign.

An NBC News delegate count puts Obama at 279 superdelegates, compared to Clinton’s 276.5. In total, the poll shows Obama with 1,869 pledged delegates and superdelegates, compared to Clinton’s 1,702.5.

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