Edwards Endorses Obama
Former Sen. John Edwards on Wednesday endorsed Sen. Barack Obama to be the Democratic nominee for president.
Edwards said at a campaign event for the Illinois senator in Grand Rapids, Mich., that Obama is the candidate who can bring America the type of change it needs.
"There is one man who knows and understands that this is a time for bold leadership," he said during the televised event. "That man is Barack Obama."
Edwards, who grew up in Robbins, where his parents still live, dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination Jan. 30 after poor showings in several early primaries and caucuses. He was Sen. John Kerry's running mate during his unsuccessful 2004 bid for the presidency. Edwards also sought the Democratic presidential nomination four years ago.
Edwards' endorsement comes so late that it puzzled political strategists. He had refused to endorse either Obama or New York Sen. Hillary Clinton before Super Tuesday or before North Carolina voted May 6.
It comes a day after a convincing Clinton victory in West Virginia that kept alive her razor-thin hopes of winning the nomination.
Edwards has 19 pledged delegates that he won in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. They may now go to Obama, though by no means do they have to support him. Even if all 19 go to Obama, that would still leave him short of the required number of delegates to wrap up the nomination.
Edwards' endorsement of Obama does undercut Clinton's argument that the party superdelegates should collectively vote for her as the nominee. Obama is leading in delegates, primaries and caucuses won, and the popular vote.
"The reason I am here tonight is because the Democratic voters in America have made their choice," he said, "and so have I."
Edwards said last week that it was "fine" for Clinton to continue making her case but expressed concern that a continued campaign could damage the party's prospects against the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, in November.
Since winning the North Carolina primary, Obama has increasingly turned his attention to McCain as more and more Democratic insiders have asked Clinton publicly to end her campaign.
Throughout his two campaigns for president, Edwards stressed his support for the little guy and pledged to fight special interests. He made eradicating poverty his top issue.
After dropping out of the race, Edwards asked both Clinton and Obama to make poverty a central issue in the general election and a future Democratic administration. Both agreed to do so. Obama pledged Wednesday to cut poverty in half if he is elected president.
Edwards' blue-collar roots and populist message could help Obama increase his support from white working-class voters, a demographic that has been slow to support him and helped Clinton pull off strong victories in Ohio and West Virginia.
Edwards announced he was dropping out in New Orleans, the same city where he declared his run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
"It is time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path," he said.
After his withdrawal, Obama and Clinton flew to Chapel Hill to woo the former North Carolina senator.
Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, was not with her husband for the endorsement. Elizabeth Edwards, who has been fighting a recurrence of breast cancer since last year, has said in the past that she prefers Clinton's health-care plan.
Aides to both Edwards and Obama told The New York Times that he is sure to be on the short list of possible vice presidential running mates.
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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