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Edwards endorses Obama: No more 'Two Americas'

May 14, 2008 |  8:54 pm

John Edwards endorses Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton, cites Two AmericasNot white and black, or red and blue ... Given how well their campaign slogans mesh together, it's no wonder John Edwards put his defunct catchphrase to good use and backed Barack Obama for president.

The Obama campaign has turned big-name endorsements into an art, revealing a few key supporters every time Hillary Clinton's fortunes seem to be on the rise. Edwards' announcement is no exception — Clinton just swept the West Virginia primary, and according to ABC's Political Radar, had been planning some key fundraisers over the next few days. In addition to hitting her debt-ridden pocketbook, the votes Obama will likely receive from Edwards delegates more than offset the pledged delegates she won last night.

It's not just delegates: As the Radar points out, the move was "a dramatic attempt by the Obama campaign to answer concerns regarding Obama's appeal to working-class voters." The Wall Street Journal's Political Wire sneers:

Edwards could give a boost to Obama’s candidacy by attracting the exact sort of voter that has been Clinton’s strength — white, working-class voters from rust-belt states who are drawn to a populist political philosophy. ...

People close to Edwards have said that he sees deep flaws in both Clinton and Obama. He thinks Obama lacks the fire to wage war against special interests in Washington, and objects that Clinton takes money from lobbyists and is part of the inside-the-beltway aristocracy, which he considers to be the problem with American politics.

If you're looking for hard numbers, NPR points out that 7% of the West Virginia vote went to the former vice presidential candidate, even though he's no longer running. And, at a point when Obama is campaigning against John McCain rather than against Clinton, Edwards might help him finally close the deal — or end the agony, as The Washington Post's The Fix observes:

Edwards is widely seen as one of the major party figures who had remained on the sidelines in the race between Clinton and Obama. That he has stepped in to the fray in hopes of, perhaps, bringing this race to an end should send a powerful signal to undecided superdelegates about the direction of the contest. 

Edwards is the picture of modesty about the power of his endorsement in this MSNBC interview, but you have to wonder about the timing on his end: Is he late to the party or the crucial tiebreaker? Is this a bid for the vice presidency? They'd certainly make a cute ticket.

The Moderate Voice isn't enamored, though. They have a thing or two to say about unifying the party:

If the endorsement is meant to show solidarity by one party member toward one of the candidates, that is a fait acoompli. Unifying the party at this point is likely premature. Unifying isnt done by one person saying ‘unify now.’ It is a far more many layered process that includes more meeting and greeting with many groups and people. That would be later. Not now.

Slate's Trailhead blog, however, says Edward's swing Obama-ward "isn’t the last round of battle; it’s the first round of cleanup":

Enter John Edwards. By endorsing Obama now, Edwards isn’t handing him the nomination. He’s minimizing the damage wrought upon the all-but-inevitable nominee. Clinton insists a drawn-out election isn’t hurting the party. But it is clearly exposing huge holes in each candidate’s armor. By weighing in now, Edwards is reassuring Democrats—and perhaps telegraphing to Kentucky voters—that Obama is a safe choice.

John Edwards: Kingmaker? Deal-closer? Irrelevant? VP material? Post your take below. Also, check out Google's quotes page to judge if Edwards let the cat out of the bag days ago.

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