"Rep. Donald Payne (D-10th Dist.), a New Jersey superdelegate who had been supporting Hillary Clinton for president, has switched his allegiance to Barack Obama. 'After careful consideration, I have reached the conclusion that Barack Obama can best bring about the change that our country so desperately wants and needs," Payne told The Star-Ledger for today's editions. It was 'one of the most difficult decisions I have made,' Payne said. 'I've really been mulling it over for quite a while."
Also, Obama's trip to Oregon got off to a good start before he even arrived. Congressman Peter DeFazio, a superdelegate, says he will support the Illinois senator. That moves Obama one small step closer to presidential nomination.
Pennsylvania Rep. Chris Carney sided with Clinton, who won his very conservative district.
The Wall Street Journal says some supers haven't come out for Obama because of a fear of "backlash at home." The paper writes, "Many of the politicians sitting on the fence are from conservative states or mostly white, rural districts, where Sen. Obama has had the least success. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, is expected to face a tough re-election fight in the fall and hasn't endorsed a presidential candidate. Despite her neutrality, the Republican Party has been airing an advertisement on YouTube that poses the question of whether she will endorse Sen. Obama. The ad transposes her picture with his picture and overlays it with a muddy recording of a speech in which he described small-town and working-class voters as 'bitter.'"
The Washington Post reports, "[B]ehind the scenes, his campaign worked with a light touch to win over uncommitted superdelegates and allies of Clinton, mindful of not appearing overconfident and of the fact that they would need the backing of the candidate, her husband and their supporters in the fall."
"With numerous prominent Democrats believed to be waiting in the wings to endorse his candidacy, Obama appears poised to win the pledged delegates and superdelegates he will need to claim the Democratic nomination as early as May 20, when Kentucky and Oregon vote. But although he appeared to lock down his lead on Tuesday with a strong win in North Carolina and a narrow loss in Indiana, he won only two new superdelegate endorsements yesterday, from Reps. Rick Larsen (Wash.) and Brad Miller (N.C.). Many other unaligned lawmakers said they are likely to remain on the sidelines for the time being, in deference to Clinton."
More: "Obama advisers said a number of Democratic lawmakers are ready to sign on but want to speak with Clinton before making the leap. 'The writing is on the wall. They think he's the nominee, so there's no reason to rush,' said one prominent uncommitted Democrat, referring to other lawmakers in the same situation. 'Then you don't have to offend anybody. The voters will issue their verdict soon enough.'"
"Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), a former presidential candidate, said he will remain neutral. 'I'm hopeful that there's some accommodation pretty soon,' he said carefully. 'The sooner the better.' Sen. Ken Salazar (Colo.) said he will hang back, as well. 'Let it play out,' he said. Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) said she will continue to 'contemplate things' over the next few weeks."
"Clinton supporters also urged restraint. 'It's three more weeks, okay?' said Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.). 'We want to have a very united party in November, and I take Senator Obama at his word when he says he doesn't want to do anything to tell her to get out of the race.'"
The New York Times reports Obama met privately with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the DNC yesterday. "Behind the scenes, there were new discussions between Mr. Obama and the party leadership. Senior Democratic officials said he met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi when their paths crossed at Democratic Party headquarters. They had spoken by telephone earlier in the week. Ms. Pelosi and Mrs. Clinton have had no known recent talks."
"On Thursday, however, Obama argued that he could lock up the race sooner -- by May 20 when Kentucky and Oregon vote. 'If, at that point, we have the majority of pledged delegates,' he said, 'we can make a pretty strong claim that … we've won. He spoke on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.'"
Could a bunch of Supers come out to put Obama over the top on May 20 as well?
Politico's Smith and Parnes report that Clinton tried to get some undeclared supers to commit to her privately without having to risk a public break with Obama. "A Clinton staffer acknowledged Thursday that the campaign was in the process of 'counting up' superdelegates because, 'at the end of the day, we have to know where our numbers are.' 'We do have some private supporters,' the staffer said. "[But] for their own political purposes, they can't be on record.'"
"The staffer conceded that lawmakers could, in theory, 'privately back' Clinton then ultimately support Obama but said: 'We need to track where we are, and there's no other way.'"