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Edwards makes his choice: Obama

Posted May 14, 2008
Updated May 15, 2008

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— Democrat John Edwards endorsed former rival Barack Obama on Wednesday, a move designed to help solidify support for the party's likely presidential nominee even as Hillary Rodham Clinton refuses to give up her long-shot candidacy.

Edwards made a surprise appearance with Obama in Grand Rapids, Mich., as the Illinois senator campaigns in a state that's critical to victory in the November general election.

The endorsement came a day after Clinton defeated Obama by more than 2-to-1 in the West Virginia primary. The loss highlighted Obama's challenge in winning over the "Hillary Democrats" – white, working-class voters who also supported Edwards in significant numbers before he exited the race in late January.

Edwards, who received a thunderous ovation when Obama introduced him to a crowd of several thousand, said, "Brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats" to defeat presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. "We are here tonight because the Democratic voters have made their choice, and so have I."

He said Obama "stands with me" in a fight to cut poverty in half within 10 years.

Edwards also praised Clinton, saying, "We are a stronger party" because of her involvement. "We're going to have a stronger nominee in the fall because of her work."

He said Clinton is a "woman who is made of steel. She is a leader in this country not because of her husband, but because of what she has done."

Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said in a statement, "We respect John Edwards, but as the voters of West Virginia showed last night, this thing is far from over."

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and the 2004 vice presidential nominee, finished second to Obama in the Iowa caucus in early January before coming in third in the three subsequent contests. He dropped out in New Orleans, the location being a reminder of his attention to poverty.

Both Obama and Clinton immediately asked Edwards for his endorsement, but he stayed mum for more than four months. His endorsement would have carried far more clout if he had made it in February, when the Obama-Clinton outcome was very much in doubt.

Obama, speaking to reporters on his plane late Wednesday as he flew from Michigan to Chicago, said Edwards can help draw working-class voters and others to his campaign.

"I have no doubt that John Edwards can be extremely helpful to us campaigning in every demographic. But his passion and credibility when it comes to issues of poverty and the plight of working people in this country, I think, is a message that is powerful and one that fits with the kind of vision I have for America."

A person close to Edwards, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he wanted to get involved now to begin unifying the party. Obama also signed on to Edwards' anti-poverty initiative, which he launched Tuesday with the goal of reducing poverty in the United States by half within 10 years.

When he made his decision, Edwards didn't even tell many of his former top advisers because he wanted to inform Clinton personally, said the person close to him. Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, who has said she thinks Clinton has the superior health care plan, did not travel with him to Michigan and is not part of the endorsement.

David "Mudcat" Saunders, a chief adviser for Edwards on rural affairs during his presidential campaign, said the endorsement should take some sting out of Obama's resounding loss in West Virginia.

"For Barack Obama, I think he ought to kiss Johnny Edwards on the lips to kill this 41-point loss," Saunders said.

Edwards waged a scrappy underdog campaign for the Democratic nomination, always outshone by the historic nature of Obama's possibly being the first black nominee and Clinton the first woman. He continued to campaign after the family disclosed that Elizabeth's breast cancer had returned.

Obama has 1,887 delegates, leaving him 139 delegates short of the 2,026 needed to clinch the nomination if Florida and Michigan delegates are not seated. Clinton has 1,718 delegates, according to the latest tally by The Associated Press.

Edwards has 19 pledged delegates won in three states: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Most of the those delegates have already been selected, meaning they are technically free to support whomever they choose at the party's national convention, regardless of Edwards' endorsement.


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  • jedichick May 15, 2008

    I don't like Obama but it's not for racial reasons! What an asinine reason for accusing someone of racism! And I am a woman but I won't be voting for Clinton, either. And I am not embarassed I voted for Bush. yeesh!!!!! Just had to put my two cents in.

  • Why Is My Slim Physique Envied May 15, 2008

    NOW: That goes both ways! There are plenty of Republicans that try to "destroy peoples lives". Juliani (don't know if that's the right spelling because I didn't feel like googling it), is hated in NY for that very same reason. You cross him and he will or atleast attempt to, kill your career. Having power and being human is a huge vice for many individuals, no matter the party affiliation.

  • bullet656 May 15, 2008

    doodad-I thought they were called "Reagan Democrats" because they broke with their party and voted for Reagan. Therefore they were not the ones who despised him. I might be wrong about that, but that was my assumption, correct me if I'm wrong.

  • Redneck_Bob May 15, 2008

    Edwards giving Obama his support makes it sooo much easier to vote McCain in November and have a clear conscience because everybody knows it is going to be President McCain come January 2009

  • Doctor Dataclerk May 15, 2008

    Amen Doodad!

  • Schpartacus May 15, 2008

    It will be great in 2018 when there's only 50% as much poverty.

  • snizzake May 15, 2008

    doodad... excellent comment to end the day. couldn't have said it better myself.

  • doodad May 15, 2008

    When Bush was running for the 2000 election, he talked about changing fuel economy standards on vehicles to reduce oil consumption and improving cars to burn cleaner for the environment. It took seven years for congress to finally pass an energy bill. He also has asked congress multiple times to lift restrictions so we can drill for oil domestically, but the environmentalists won't allow it. They have restrained increasing refinement as well.

    Obama, Clinton, or McCain can come up with beneficial ideas for America, but congress has to agree. Anyone who thinks that every stinking thing wrong in America is Bush's fault feels that way because they despise him anyway.

    The Democrats despised Reagan back in the 80's but now some are called "Reagan Democrats." America's collapse will be a reflection of uninformed voters supporting a candidate who they think will make life easy. Blessings come from being tested, tried and tribulations. An easy life is an unappreciated life.

  • NeverSurrender May 15, 2008

    "MaMa81, I wouldn't have to change my vote, I didn't vote for Bush in 2000 or 2004. Still hard for me to understand how any one can say they did without extreme embaressment."


    Because, sadly, the alternatives appeared to be far more unpleasant than the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    That being said, Bush has turned into an utter disappointment to put it mildly, particularly with his invasion of Iraq. It was surprising considering that prior to the invasion, he seemed to handle 9/11 and Afghanistan the way you'd expect...lay out the evidence, identify the perp and the hideout, give them a chance to hand him over, and then enforce the consequences when the Taliban refused.

    The media can bleat "no WMD" all they want but we know Saddam had chemical and nuclear programmes and I've got strong suspicions where the stuff we knew he had went (Syria).

    That being said, I think a strategic presence in Iraq is vital in spite of the inept handling of the invasion.

  • Dr. Dataclerk May 15, 2008

    Lets chat intelligently tomorrow and not bring any racial issues on board. Just clean talk with respect to other. What do you say? You have a right to vote for Mrs. Clinton - McCain and I will be voting for Obama. Don't get so upset because of what a person says here. You will probably see a lot of ignorance. Just ignore it. Don't ever stoop to someone's level when they are wrong. Stand your ground when you are right. Peace Love Vote for the person who will stand for All Americans. That person will be for me Obama. Who now will you choose? Your choice, my friend. Have a good evening and I will chat with you tomorrow.