Rita Stephan, left, who chairs a north Austin precinct, gives instructions during a caucus at the Travis County Democratic convention Saturday, March 29, 2008, in Austin, Texas. Democrats gathered Saturday for another phase of Texas' complex caucus system to decide whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will win more delegates in the state. Other delegates are Gerald Strevig, center, and Esther Garza, right. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
AUSTIN, Texas - Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama scrambled to secure more Texas delegates Saturday as the state pushed to settle the outcome of the March 4 caucus.
Clinton and Obama were evenly splitting the day's support in tabulating that went into the night, the latest stage of a process that prompted frustration and challenges from supporters of both candidates. Obama showed strength later in the count after his rival built a 60-40 edge in Saturday's initial results.
Texas Democrats hold both a presidential primary and caucus. Clinton won the March 4 primary with 51 percent to Obama's 47 percent, earning her 65 national convention delegates to Obama's 61.
The state's caucus began immediately after polls closed primary night and quickly devolved into chaos in many parts of the state after an unprecedented turnout of more than 1 million Democrats. An incomplete and unofficial count by the Texas Democratic Party showed Obama was leading Clinton in caucuses 56 percent to 44 percent on election night.
A total of 67 national convention delegates are ultimately at stake in the Texas caucuses, and party conventions throughout the state Saturday were the latest effort to divvy up the prize. It appeared unlikely the bottom line would be immediately apparent for Obama and Clinton in their drawn-out Texas wrangle.
Because of the huge Democratic turnout in Texas' primary and caucuses, registration took hours Saturday. At large conventions in Houston, Dallas and Austin, arguments erupted and confusion set in as complaints were lodged about the legitimacy of some delegates.
Many of the challenges were brought by Clinton supporters questioning the validity of Obama delegates. The Clinton campaign said it wouldn't lodge any challenges itself but that it was helping supporters who would.
Obama has fared better overall in caucuses this year, winning 13 to Clinton's 3.
He entered Saturday's Texas conventions leading the national race for delegates, 1,623 to 1,499. It will take 2,024 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, a prize probably to be decided in the end by party figures known as superdelegates.