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DNC chairman under Bill Clinton: Unite behind Obama

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080501/ap_on_el_pr/superdelegates DNC chairman under Bill Clinton: Unite behind Obama By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer 45
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080501/ap_on_el_pr/superdelegates

      DNC chairman under Bill Clinton: Unite behind Obama

      By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer 45 minutes
      ago

      WASHINGTON - A leader of the Democratic Party under
      Bill Clinton has switched his allegiance to Barack
      Obama and is encouraging fellow Democrats to "heal the
      rift in our party" and unite behind the Illinois
      senator.

      Joe Andrew, who was Democratic National Committee
      chairman from 1999-2001, planned a news conference
      Thursday in his hometown of Indianapolis to urge other
      Hoosiers to support Obama in Tuesday's primary,
      perhaps the most important contest left in the White
      House race. He also has written a lengthy letter
      explaining his decision that he plans to send to other
      superdelegates.

      "I am convinced that the primary process has devolved
      to the point that it's now bad for the Democratic
      Party," Andrew said in a telephone interview with The
      Associated Press.

      Bill Clinton appointed Andrew chairman of the DNC near
      the end of his presidency, and Andrew endorsed the
      former first lady last year on the day she declared
      her candidacy for the White House.

      Andrew said in his letter that he is switching his
      support because "a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote
      to continue this process, and a vote to continue this
      process is a vote that assists (Republican) John
      McCain."

      "While I was hopeful that a long, contested primary
      season would invigorate our party, the polls show that
      the tone and temperature of the race is now hurting
      us," Andrew wrote. "John McCain, without doing much of
      anything, is now competitive against both of our
      remaining candidates. We are doing his work for him
      and distracting Americans from the issues that really
      affect all of our lives."

      Andrew said the Obama campaign never asked him to
      switch his support, but he decided to do so after
      watching Obama's handling of two issues in recent
      days. He said Obama took the principled stand in
      opposing a summer gas tax holiday that both Clinton
      and McCain supported, even though it would have been
      easier politically to back it. And he said he was
      impressed with Obama's handling of the controversy
      surrounding his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah
      Wright.

      Wright's outspoken criticisms of the United States
      have threatened Obama's candidacy. Obama initially
      refused to denounce his former pastor, but he did so
      this week after Wright suggested that Obama secretly
      agrees with him.

      "He has shown such mettle under fire," Andrew said in
      the interview. "The Jeremiah Wright controversy just
      reconfirmed for me, just as the gas tax controversy
      confirmed for me, that he is the right candidate for
      our party."

      Andrew's decision puts Obama closer to closing
      Clinton's superdelegate lead. Clinton had a big
      advantage among superdelegates, many of whom like
      Andrews have ties to the Clintons and backed her
      candidacy early on. But most of the superdelegates
      taking sides recently have gone for Obama, who has won
      more state contests.

      Obama now trails her by just 19 superdelegates,
      244-263. This week, he picked up eight superdelegates
      while she netted three.

      Superdelegates are nearly 800 elected leaders and
      Democratic Party officials who aren't bound by the
      outcome of state contests and can cast their ballot
      for any candidate at the national convention. They are
      especially valuable in this race since neither Clinton
      nor Obama can win enough pledged delegates to secure
      the nomination through state-by-state elections.

      Obama now leads in the delegate count overall 1732.5
      to 1597.5 for Clinton. A candidate needs 2,025
      delegates to win the nomination. About 230
      superdelegates remain undecided, and about 60 more
      will be selected at state party conventions and
      meetings throughout the spring.

      Other party leaders are encouraging superdelegates to
      pick a side by late June to prevent the fight from
      going to the national convention in August. Andrews
      wrote in his letter that he is calling for "fellow
      superdelegates across the nation to heal the rift in
      our party and unite behind Barack Obama."

      It's the second endorsement for Obama this week that
      could be influential in Indiana. Rep. Baron Hill, who
      represents a crucial swing district in the state,
      endorsed Obama on Wednesday. Clinton has the backing
      of Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who has a vast organization
      in the state and has been campaigning aggressively
      with the former first lady.

      Obama and Clinton are running close in Indiana and
      both need a victory there — Obama to help rebound from
      a loss to Clinton in Pennsylvania and to prove he can
      win Midwestern voters and Clinton so she can overcome
      Obama's lead in the race overall.

      ___

      On the Net:

      http://www.barackobama.com
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