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N.C. Gov. Easley Backs Clinton

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North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president today. North Carolina holds its primary May 6, along with Indiana. (Associated Press)

Updated 4:17 p.m.
By Perry Bacon Jr.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley officially endorsed Hillary Clinton this morning, giving her another boost in a state where the demographics suggest she might struggle.

"Hillary Clinton gets it. She gets it," Easley told a crowd of several hundred at an event at North Carolina State University.

He added, talking about Clinton's toughness, that "this young lady makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy."

Clinton's campaign, while playing down its chance of winning in a state where she has trailed by double digits in most polls, is running an aggressive race here.

Clinton has spent the past three days stumping in North Carolina. Even if she loses here, her campaign aides say, she will try to hold down Barack Obama's margins both in delegates and in the popular vote.

But the challenge is obvious. Although the focus of the Democratic race has been on Obama's inability to win over white working-class voters, Clinton has struggled mightily among African Americans, picking up less than 20 percent of black votes in many of the primary states. She has not yet won a state where blacks make up more than 30 percent of the voters.

Easley, in an interview, said "I'm not like Rendell, where I have a machine in every city or fundraisers," referring to Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, who campaigned across his state for Clinton. "The thing I can do is tell the people I'm for Hillary, and I think they will do me the courtesy of taking a look at her."

Easley said he had months ago assured Clinton he would back her, but had not wanted to endorse her while native son John Edwards was in the race. He said that even though polls showed Clinton trailing in N.C., increased voter registration and excitement in the state this year made it likely that polls would not accurately reflect the vote here. "This is all so new," he said.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 29, 2008; 10:57 AM ET
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