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McClellan Switches to Obama

Anita Kumar

Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, a superdelegate who had endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, announced today that she is switching her support to Sen. Barack Obama after his strong showing in this week's primaries.

"The time has come to support Sen. Obama as our likely nominee,'' said McClellan, an African American woman from Richmond. "The time has come for us to come together as a party."

McClellan, who endorsed Clinton in December, agonized in recent weeks about her decision, calling it "the most stressful thing I've been through in my whole life." She said that she gradually changed her mind after watching Obama win recent primaries and realizing he will probably be the Democratic nominee.

Five of Virginia's 16 superdelegates are still pledged to Clinton including Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake) who said he will decide about whether to switch his support after the primaries. Six other delegates remain publicly neutral in Virginia, including Sen. James Webb and C. Richard Cranwell, state party chairman.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a co-chairman of Obama's campaign, called McClellan's decision a tough one but said it is "the right call for all of us in our party."

"It is now time to unify behind the nominee so we can, as Democrats, focus on the general election,'' he said.

McClellan and Kaine declined to say whether Clinton should drop out of the race. McClellan said she notified the Clinton campaign of her decision today, and expects to talk to Clinton later today.

In February, McClellan told the Washington Post that Obama "can be a little light on details." "It's one thing to motivate them to come to a speech and another thing to get them out to vote," she said.

By Anita Kumar  |  May 7, 2008; 3:59 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/President , General Assembly 2008 , Timothy M. Kaine  
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