WASHINGTON -- Al Gore is the overwhelming choice among Democratic Party leaders and elected officials heading to the national convention as delegates, according to an Associated Press survey. More than 400 ''superdelegates'' have pledged their support to Gore, drawing him closer to the 2,170 delegates he needs to win the nomination.
Gore has won 42 delegates in presidential contests so far. Rival Bill Bradley, who has picked up 27 delegates from races so far this year, has less than three dozen superdelegates in the AP survey. The candidates are competing for 1,315 delegates next Tuesday in contests in 15 states and American Samoa.
Gore said he isn't taking anything for granted.
''I don't think that superdelegate support is worth much unless you have a lot of support at the grass roots,'' the vice president said Friday in an interview. ''But combined with grass-roots support, it can help a great deal to have superdelegates speaking for you and endorsing your campaign.''
An AP survey conducted over the past few weeks found 418 delegates said they were committed to Gore. Three more said they were leaning toward voting for him. Bradley was the choice of 29 delegates, and he had one leaner. Some 117 delegates said they were uncommitted or had no preference.
The Gore campaign put its superdelegate count at 640 and included people who endorsed the vice president, attended a campaign event or personally gave him their word. The actual number of people who signed pledge cards was somewhere in the ''mid 500s,'' said Gore's delegate director, Laurie Moskowitz, who began recruiting superdelegate support late last summer.
The Bradley campaign would not provide estimates, saying it didn't want to tip its hand to the competition. But spokesman Tony Wyche said, ''I do think their numbers are a littler higher on their own side, and a little lower on our side.''
Wyche underscored the fact that superdelegates technically are uncommitted until they cast their votes at the national convention. Signing a pledge card doesn't guarantee a delegate's support, especially if the person is an elected official.
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