Gephardt frees convention delegates to select another Democrat

Saturday, January 24, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Dick Gephardt, who abandoned his bid for the presidency, has freed his Democratic convention delegates to back another candidate but isn't ready to signal his choice.

After a poor fourth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses, Gephardt quit the race on Tuesday, leaving a field of seven candidates. He indicated that he would not endorse any of his rivals before Feb. 3, when Missouri and six other states hold early contests.

Missouri campaign director Jason Norton said Friday that Gephardt has spoken with several Democratic "superdelegates" -- elected officials and other Democratic leaders who will help nominate a candidate at this summer's convention -- including Missouri Gov. Bob Holden and members of Congress. According to the latest Associated Press survey, Gephardt had the support of 15 superdelegates.

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