Party insiders give Clinton early, commanding delegate edge

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton has locked up public support from half of the Democratic insiders who cast ballots at the party's national convention, giving her a commanding advantage over her rivals for the party's presidential nomination.

Clinton's margin over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is striking. Not only is it big, but it comes more than two months before primary voters head to the polls — an early point in the race for so many of the people known as superdelegates to publicly back a candidate.

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"She has the experience necessary not only to lead this country, she has experience politically that I think will help her through a tough campaign," said Unzell Kelley, a county commissioner from Alabama.

"I think she's learned from her previous campaign," he said. "She's learned what to do, what to say, what not to say — which just adds to her electability."

The Associated Press contacted all 712 superdelegates in the past two weeks, and heard back from more than 80 percent. They were asked which candidate they plan to support at the convention next summer.

The results:

Clinton: 359.

Sanders: 8.

O'Malley: 2.

Uncommitted: 210.

The 712 superdelegates make up about 30 percent of the 2,382 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. That means that more than two months before voting starts, Clinton already has 15 percent of the delegates she needs.

Photos of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail:

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Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign
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Party insiders give Clinton early, commanding delegate edge
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 10: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a campaign rally at City Garage April 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. Voters will head to polling places for Maryland's presidential primary April 26. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laughs as she listens to Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) speak on a gun control panel in Port Washington, New York April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a Latino organizing event on April 9, 2016 while campaigning in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. The New York Democratic primary is scheduled for April 19th. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
SPRINGFIELD, MA - FEBRUARY 29: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a 'Get Out The Vote' rally at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History on February 29, 2016 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Massachusetts and Virginia ahead of Super Tuesday. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters at the Old South Meeting Hall during a rally in Boston, Massachusetts on Monday February 29, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 01: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets patrons at Mapps Coffee on March 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Minnesota as Super Tuesday voting takes place in 12 states. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters as she arrives at a rally at Abraham Lincoln High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Abraham Lincoln High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by her daughter Chelsea Clinton, reacts to applause as she arrives for a rally at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, hugs Annette Bebout, 73, of Newton, during a campaign event at Berg Middle School, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 in Newton, Iowa. Bebout told her story of how she lost her home to the audience. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by former President Bill Clinton, right, and their daughter Chelsea Clinton, left, arrives to speak at a rally at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at BR Miller Middle School in Marshalltown, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton makes a point during the Brown & Black Forum, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, right, and high school teacher David Swaney laugh about their colorful outfits before Swaney asks Clinton a question during a town hall at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacts to applause from the audience while standing with Brenda Bouchard, an Alzheimer's research advocate, during a town hall style campaign event, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, at South Church in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about her counterterrorism strategy during a speech at the University of Minnesota Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets local residents at Apple Orchard Cafe Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts as she talks to supporters after a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets supporters before speaking at a campaign rally in Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles as she arrives to speak at a town hall meeting Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Clinton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks from a gymnasium side porch to people who weren't able to fit in to hear her speech at Fisk University Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton shakes hand with a supporter during a town hall meeting Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Coralville, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to customers at the White Mountain Cafe & Bookstore, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Gorham, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a meeting of the Alabama Democratic Conference in Hoover, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Clinton tells black Alabama Democrats that she'd champion voting rights in the White House. She says Republicans are dismantling the progress of the civil rights movement. (AP Photo/Mark Almond)
MOUNT VERNON, IOWA - OCTOBER 7: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to voters during an outdoor town hall meeting at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa on Wednesday October 7, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts to a supporter before speaking at a community forum, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
MUSCATINE, IOWA - OCTOBER 6: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a voter before leaving a farm in Muscatine, Iowa on Tuesday October 6, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - OCTOBER 05: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a town hall meeting at the Manchester Community College on October 5, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Clinton spoke about the need for gun control on the wake of a mass shooting at another community college in Oregon. (Photo by Alfredo Sosa/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures as she speaks at Human Rights Campaign gathering in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
DAVIE, FL - OCTOBER 02: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about gun control during her campaign stop at the Broward College à Hugh Adams Central Campus on October 2, 2015 in Davie, Florida. Hillary Clinton continues to campaign for the nomination of the Democratic Party as their presidential candidate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a grassroots organizing meeting at Philander Smith College Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19: Hillary Clinton attends the Phoenix Awards Dinner at the 45th Annual Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Conference at Walter E. Washington Convention Center on September 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - SEPTEMBER 19: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claps on stage during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention at the Verizon Wireless Center on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Challenger for the democratic vote Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been gaining ground on Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 18: Hillary Clinton brings her Democratic presidential campaign to Maine for the first time, speaking at King Middle School. Clinton is welcomed as she is introduced at the event. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - SEPTEMBER 7: Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton takes time to meet supporters and take photos at the Annual Hawkeye Labor Council AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic on September 7, 2015 at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Clinton spent a busy Labor Day weekend in Iowa, meeting supporters throughout the state while trying to maintain a lead over Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes part in a discussion after speaking about the Iran nuclear deal at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, on September 9, 2015. Clinton expressed firm support for the nuclear accord with Iran, calling it flawed but still strong. Clinton added that the agreement must be strictly enforced and said that if elected president next year, she would not hesitate to use military force if Iran fails to live up to its word and tries to develop a bomb. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - SEPTEMBER 5: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen take an off the schedule stop in the River Run Bookstore before shaking hands with onlookers on September 5, 2015 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - SEPTEMBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton receives an endorsement from U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) September 5, 2015 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Clinton attended a Women for Hillary event at Portsmouth High School. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - SEPTEMBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton walks downtown Portsmouth and takes pictures with people September 5, 2015 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Clinton attended a Women for Hillary event at Portsmouth High School earlier in the day and received an endorsement from U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 18: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions from journalists after speaking to north Las Vegas voters at a town hall meeting in Las Vegas, on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. The former Secretary was answering questions about emails sent and received a private server system, now in question, while she was the Secretary of State. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - August 15: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets fairgoers as she tours the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, August 15, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton tours the Des Moines Area Rapid Transit Central Station with general manager Elizabeth Presutti, left, and building superintendent Keith Welch, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
CARROLL, IA - JULY 26: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests gathered for a house party on July 26, 2015 in Carroll, Iowa. Although Clinton leads all other Democratic contenders, a recent poll had her trailing several of the Republican candidates in Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton greets supporters after a campaign event, Thursday, July 23, 2015 in Columbia, S.C. Clinton talked about what she said was a lack of educational and economic opportunities, and a criminal justice system that treats blacks more harshly than whites. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Chelsea Galinos, 21, left, who painted a picture of the democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, greets Clinton after a campaign event in New York, Monday, July 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign stop at the Iowa City Public Library, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this June 20, 2015, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 83rd Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Clinton’s presidential campaign jumped on the Supreme Court decision, changing its red campaign logo to a rainbow colored H, releasing a gauzy video of gay wedding ceremonies, and blasting out supportive tweets aimed at building its campaign list. But like President Barack Obama, such expressions of support mark a remarkable shift for Clinton, who opposed gay marriage for more than two decades as a first lady, a U.S. senator and a presidential candidate. (AP Photo/Mathew Sumner, File)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters during a rally, Sunday, June 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Seeking an army of volunteers, Clinton is trying to build an organizational edge in Iowa as some of her lesser-known Democratic rivals clamor for attention in the state that tripped up her first presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters during a rally, Sunday, June 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton's campaign has signaled Iowa will be the centerpiece of its ground game. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waves to supporters as her husband former President Bill Clinton, second from right, Chelsea Clinton, second from left, and her husband Marc Mezvinsky, join on stage Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the "Hillary For America" official campaign launch event at Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island on Saturday, June 13, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Supporters watch as democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a speech at Texas Southern University in Houston, Thursday, June 4, 2015. Clinton is calling for an expansion of early voting and pushing back against Republican-led efforts to restrict voting access, laying down a marker on voting rights at the start of her presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 20: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for a meeting with parents and child care workers at the Center for New Horizons on May 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Clinton arrived in Chicago after campaigning Monday and Tuesday in Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets a local resident while visiting local shops on main street in Independence, Iowa, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) poses with students and faculty after speaking at Rancho High School on May 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clinton said that any immigration reform would need to include a path to 'full and equal citizenship.' (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, a 2016 Democratic presidential contender, steps to the podium to speak at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum, Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) and actress Maggie Gyllenhaal attend the 2015 DVF Awards at United Nations on April 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University April 29, 2015 in New York City. Clinton addressed the unrest in Baltimore, called for police body cameras and a reform to sentencing. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with employees at Whitney Brothers during a campaign stop, Monday, April 20, 2015, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Hillary Clinton announced her campaign for president on Sunday April, 12, 2015 with a video on YouTube. 

(Screenshot from YouTube)

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That sizable lead reflects Clinton's advantage among the Democratic Party establishment, an edge that has helped the 2016 front-runner build a massive campaign organization, hire top staff and win coveted local endorsements.

Superdelegates are convention delegates who can support the candidate of their choice, regardless of who voters choose in the primaries and caucuses. They are members of Congress and other elected officials, party leaders and members of the Democratic National Committee.

Clinton is leading most preference polls in the race for the Democratic nomination, most by a wide margin. Sanders has made some inroads in New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary, and continues to attract huge crowds with his populist message about income inequality.

But Sanders has only recently started saying he's a Democrat after a decades-long career in politics as an independent. While he's met with and usually voted with Democrats in the Senate, he calls himself a democratic socialist.

"We recognize Secretary Clinton has enormous support based on many years working with and on behalf of many party leaders in the Democratic Party," said Tad Devine, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign. "But Sen. Sanders will prove to be the strongest candidate, with his ability to coalesce and bring young people to the polls the way that Barack Obama did."

"The best way to win support from superdelegates is to win support from voters," added Devine, a longtime expert on the Democrats' nominating process.

The Clinton campaign has been working for months to secure endorsements from superdelegates, part of a strategy to avoid repeating the mistakes that cost her the Democratic nomination eight years ago.

In 2008, Clinton hinged her campaign on an early knockout blow on Super Tuesday, while Obama's staff had devised a strategy to accumulate delegates well into the spring.

This time around, Clinton has hired Obama's top delegate strategist from 2008, a lawyer named Jeff Berman, an expert on the party's arcane rules for nominating a candidate for president.

Clinton's increased focus on winning delegates has paid off, putting her way ahead of where she was at this time eight years ago. In December 2007, Clinton had public endorsements from 169 superdelegates, according to an AP survey. At the time, Obama had 63 and a handful of other candidates had commitments as well from the smaller fraction of superdelegates willing to commit to a candidate.

"Our campaign is working hard to earn the support of every caucus goer, primary voter and grassroots and grasstop leaders," said Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson. "Since day one we have not taken this nomination for granted and that will not change."

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Some superdelegates supporting Clinton said they don't think Sanders is electable, especially because of his embrace of socialism. But few openly criticized Sanders and a handful endorsed him.

"I've heard him talk about many subjects and I can't say there is anything I disagree with," said Chad Nodland, a DNC member from North Dakota who is backing Sanders.

Photos of Hillary Clinton's Benghazi testimony:

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Hillary Clinton testifies on Benghazi 10/21
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Party insiders give Clinton early, commanding delegate edge
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, to testify before the House Benghazi Committee. After months of buildup, Hillary Rodham Clinton finally takes center stage as the star witness in the Republican-led investigation into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton waits to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, walks past members of the media as she arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, to testify before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, arrives to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Select Committee on Banghazi. After months of buildup, Hillary Rodham Clinton finally takes center stage as the star witness in the Republican-led investigation into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrives to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes her seat prior to testifying before the House Select Committee on Benghazi October 22, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing to continue its investigation on the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on the evening of September 11, 2012. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton waits to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looks toward the dais as she settles into her seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, prior to testifying before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrives to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton takes her seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, prior to testifying before the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Clinton said that she accepted responsibility for a lethal 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya and that she sought afterward to improve security for State Department workers abroad, as the House Benghazi panel investigating the incident began a hearing that may prove a turning point for her presidential campaign. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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However, Nodland added, if Clinton is the party's nominee, "I will knock on doors for her. There are just more issues I agree with Bernie."

Some superdelegates said they were unwilling to publicly commit to candidates before voters have a say, out of concern that they will be seen as undemocratic. A few said they have concerns about Clinton, who has been dogged about her use of a private email account and server while serving as secretary of state.

"If it boils down to anything I'm not sure about the trust factor," said Danica Oparnica, a DNC member from Arizona. "She has been known to tell some outright lies and I can't tolerate that."

Still others said they were won over by Clinton's 11 hours of testimony before a GOP-led committee investigating the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton's testimony won widespread praise as House Republicans struggled to trip her up.

"I don't think that there's any candidate right now, Democrat or Republican, that could actually face up to that and come out with people shaking their heads and saying, 'That is one bright, intelligent person,'" said California Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenas.

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Associated Press writers Phillip Lucas in Birmingham, Alabama, Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware, James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, Jonathan Cooper in Salem, Oregon, Bob Christie in Phoenix, and Juliet Williams in Sacramento, California, contributed to this report.

Related -- Conservative site wonders if Hillary Clinton's hair is a wig:

Conservative Site Wonders If Clinton's Hair a Wig

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