Obama is almost at victory post

Front-runner Barack Obama turned to wrapping up the Democratic presidential nomination after a party committee dealt rival Hillary Clinton a blow by seating the disputed Michigan and Florida convention delegations at half-strength.

Front-runner Barack Obama turned to wrapping up the Democratic presidential nomination after a party committee dealt rival Hillary Clinton a blow by seating the disputed Michigan and Florida convention delegations at half-strength.

After a raucous all-day rally, the panel agreed on Saturday to seat the delegations from both states but cut their voting power in half.

The decision in the long-running dispute for the Democratic nomination for the White House was a victory for Obama, removing one of the last stumbling blocks on his march to the nomination and preventing Clinton from significantly cutting his lead.

Only three contests with 86 pledged delegates at stake remained yesterday in Puerto Rico and tomorrow in Montana and South Dakota - and Obama is about 70 delegates short of the 2118 now needed to clinch the nomination.

That means he will likely still be short of the total tomorrow, but could reach it quickly with the help of some of about 180 superdelegates who remain uncommitted.

Puerto Rico, where Clinton is favoured, has 55 delegates at stake.

Clinton's campaign responded angrily to the panel's decisions and said they could appeal to the party's credentials committee and carry the fight to the convention in Denver.

The committee rejected a Clinton-backed proposal to seat all the Florida delegates at full strength, then easily backed compromises seating Michigan and Florida delegations while cutting their voting power.

The moves gave Clinton a net gain of 24 delegate votes, but still left her far behind Obama. - Reuters

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