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GRAND RAPIDS - John Edwards gave his long-awaited endorsement to Barack Obama on Wednesday, bolstering the senator's efforts to rally the Democratic Party around his candidacy and offering potential help in his efforts to win over working class white voters.
"The Democratic voters in America have made their choice and so have I," Edwards told a roaring crowd of more than 12000 people.
"There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to create one America - not two - and that man is Barack Obama," Edwards said at an event that resembled the closing night of a party convention, with the two men standing arm in arm and waving as the crowd chanted: "Yes we can."
Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina who dropped his bid for the nomination in January, said Obama represented hope and reconciliation to a nation buffeted by war and economic distress.
His endorsement came after victories by Clinton in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states with large working class populations indicated potential weaknesses along racial and class divides - weaknesses that Clinton has tried to exploit to convince super-delegates, contributors and voters in the remaining contests that she has a better chance to beat John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Edwards could potentially help Obama with that group. A Southerner, he had directed his candidacy at the same white and working class voters Obama is trying to woo.
"I'll just point out the obvious," he said when he was campaigning in Iowa last year.
"In the last - can I do the math, 45, 50 years - what is it, the last two Democrats who actually got elected president? Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton. Both of them talk like I do."
Edwards spent several minutes praising Clinton, which was met by loud boos by the largely white crowd who had filled the arena with no knowledge of the endorsement to come.
His endorsement went on to be as much about Obama as it was a populist cry for universal health care, ending poverty, better schools and an end to the war in Iraq. - New York Times