Former Democratic leader switches to Obama

May 1, 2008 4:05:27 PM PDT
Senator Barack Obama received a big boost Thursday while campaigning in Indiana. A high ranking Democratic party official and supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton is now backing Obama.

Political campaigns roll out endorsements like bakers roll out dough. But this one is special, because it's actually a defection, from Clinton to Obama. It comes from an Indiana superdelegate who chaired the national Democratic party when Bill Clinton was president. The timing couldn't be better for Obama, who is slipping badly in the latest polls, probably because of the controversy over his former pastor.

The biggest campaign event Thursday, literally, was in northwest Indiana, where a noisy convoy of semis led by Teamster boss James P. Hoffa rolled through labor communities in support of Barack Obama.

"Right now, this country's in trouble. And we've got a man riding in on a horse that's going to save us. And his name is Barack Obama," said James P. Hoffa, Teamsters president.

Obama also picked up a major political endorsement Thursday as he campaigned in a senior center in the eastern part of the state. Indiana superdelegate Joe Andrews, who was Bill Clinton's choice to run the Democratic party in the late 90s, switched his endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Obama. He said it is time to rally behind the better candidate and end the primary battle now.

"I've been inspired, inspired by Barack Obama, inspired by a movement, inspired by a man," said Andrews.

Clinton, who went after the women's vote in central Indiana Thursday with her mother and daughter at her side, says there is no reason to end the primary season until every state has a chance to vote.

"What we see is such excitement and energy. Why anybody would want to short circuit, that I don't understand, because I think it's giving us a very firm base to go into the fall election," said Senator Hillary Clinton, (D) presidential candidate.

The other Clinton, Bill, the former president, stumped for Hillary in nearby Whiting Thursday afternoon, where he said that daughter Chelsea is right that Hillary would be a better president than he was.

"I want you to think about that. Because I agree with my daughter. I don't know anybody I've ever had a chance to support who is a better change maker," Bill Clinton said.

The former president is trying not to stir up any controversy of his own these days by staying far away from reporters with microphones and saying nothing about Reverend Wright or Thursday's defection by old ally Joe Andrews.

Meanwhile, the latest poll in North Carolina, where they also vote next Tuesday, has Hillary cutting Obama's lead from double-digits to five points. Nationally, they're neck-and-neck, which is her best showing in a month. So the last thing Bill wants to do is say something that changes a campaign momentum that has been shifting Hillary's way.

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain campaigned in Ohio Thursday. McCain held a town hall meeting in Cleveland. He addressed his plans for immigration as well as health care. McCain explained, under his plan, families can get healthcare outside of their own state. That will result in insurance companies competing more effectively. McCain has been discussing his health care proposals on a cross country swing this week. This was his second recent appearance in heavily Democratic northeast Ohio.


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