Clinton and Obama Fight for N.D. Votes -- Again

Sen. Hillary Clinton made a blunt appeal to North Dakota delegates to switch their support to her, despite the fact that Sen. Barack Obama handily defeated her in the state's caucus in February.

In an indication of how tense the battle has become for each Democratic delegate, Obama abandoned the campaign trail in Pennsylvania and scooted to North Dakota for the state party's annual dinner last night, despite the fact that he's already won 14 of the state's 21 delegates as well as six of the state's seven superdelegates.

The two candidates also will battle for votes tonight in Butte, Mont., when Democrats there hold their annual dinner. The Montana primary, which offers only a handful of delegates, is scheduled for June.

Clinton made it clear to North Dakota Democrats last night that she believes there is no such thing as a pledged delegate and highlighted that stubborn streak in her appeal for delegates to switch from Obama to her when the Democratic national party holds its nominating convention this August.

"I am here tonight because I am seeking your support," Clinton said, adding that she never gives up.

"I know what it's like to stumble. I know what it means to get knocked down. But I've never stayed down. I never will and neither will America if we get ready to win this election in November," she said.

Clinton appealed to hockey fans in the crowd with a reference to the upcoming college hockey championship series, the Frozen Four.

"Can you imagine if the Fighting Sioux [University of North Dakota hockey team] had played the Gophers [University of Minnesota hockey team] for a tie on Sunday and then given up? Well they kept fighting and that's why they are going to the Frozen Four in Denver next week."

Obama kept up the hockey theme after accepting a University of North Dakota hockey stick from backer Sen. Byron Dorgan. Obama joked, "It will have a place of honor in my office, but I promise you I will not wield it because my hockey game is worse than my bowling."

Last week Obama bowled with potential voters, notable for the number of gutter balls he threw.

Obama did not appear to be upset by his rival's persistent push for delegates he seemingly had already won.

"No matter how long or heated this primary contest gets, I believe that either Sen. Clinton or I would do a far better job of leading this country over the next four years than John McCain. That is something that we can all agree to," Obama said and offered up his feelings for the unity of the Democratic party after the extended primary. "So I don't worry abut the fact that this contest has gone on a long time. We're doing fine."

He was more critical of Republican candidate John McCain, saying he's offering "four more years of the very same policies that failed us for the last eight."

He said McCain offers a "can't-do, won't-do, won't-even-try style of politics."

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