Clyburn Endorses Obama
By Debbi Wilgoren
Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking Democrat in Congress, endorsed Barack Obama's presidential bid this morning and said he hoped enough other superdelegates would follow suit today to clinch the nomination for the Illinois senator.
Obama "is elevating the political rhetoric, he's elevating our party," Clyburn, 67, said on NBC's "Today" show. "He is bringing to the process new voters, young voters, elder voters. People who are in thirst of a new vision for our country."
Although precise delegate counts differ, Obama, who would be the first African American nominee from a major party, expects to pick up about 20 pledged delegates during primaries today in Montana and South Dakota. He would need about two dozen more superdelegates to secure the nomination and end his protracted battle against rival Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"Today the [primary] process ends," Clyburn said in the "Today" interview. "And I hope that enough of us will announce our intentions today so that this evening our candidate, our presumptive nominee, can get to 2,118."
Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress, noted that the Democratic Convention this summer will take place on the 45th anniversary of the historic march on Washington in 1963.
He said the Democratic nominee will make an acceptance speech precisely 45 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech, and said he hoped the Democratic party would rally around its nominee "just as this country rallied behind the vision of Dr. King."
Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe, who also appeared on "Today," said the New York senator would step aside if Obama reached the necessary threshold of 2,118 pledged and superdelegates -- but not before then.
"If Senator Obama gets to that number, I think Hillary will congratulate him and support him as the nominee," McAuliffe said. "We are going to be a unified party going forward."
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