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Kucinich's good news for Obama

January 02, 2008|Scott Martelle | Times Staff Writer

DES MOINES — Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination might have gained a slight advantage Tuesday with Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich's recommendation to his supporters to back the Illinois senator if there is insufficient support for Kucinich in individual precincts.

While Kucinich's support is slight here, polls show a statistical tie for first among Obama, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Given that tightness, any small increase in caucus support could turn out to be significant.

Under Iowa's Democratic caucus rules, a candidate must receive 15% of the turnout in a precinct Thursday night to be "viable" in that precinct. Supporters of candidates who do not clear the threshold may then back another candidate.

An agreement between Kucinich and Edwards four years ago to send supporters to the other candidate in precincts where one was not viable has been credited with helping add to Edwards' second-place surge.

"In those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice," Kucinich said. "Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: change."

Obama welcomed the news.

"I'm honored that he has done this because we both believe deeply in the need for fundamental change," Obama said. "He and I have been fighting for a number of the same priorities -- including an end to the war in Iraq that we both opposed from the start, reforming Washington and creating a better life for America's working families."

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