Thursday, April 24, 2008

Edwards Backers Team Up With Obama

The Caucus -- New York Times Political Blog
April 23, 2008, 2:32 pm
By Julie Bosman

No, John Edwards has not yet endorsed a candidate.

But nearly 50 of his most prominent backers lined up behind Senator Barack Obama today, in a gesture designed to give Mr. Obama a heavy boost of support less than two weeks before the North Carolina primary on May 6.

The group includes Ed Turlington, Mr. Edwards’s former national general campaign chairman; three North Carolina members of Congress; and 46 local activists, philanthropists and business leaders, among others. (Not surprisingly, given Mr. Edwards’s background, the list holds the names of 20 lawyers.)

Mr. Turlington, speaking from his law office in Raleigh, said that he had not expected to endorse a candidate after Mr. Edwards dropped out of the race on Jan. 30.

“I thought I was going to be on the sidelines,” Mr. Turlington said, adding that he made the decision about 10 days ago, after speaking to Mr. Obama. “I think his candidacy is doing a lot of important things that are similar to themes that John Edwards ran on.”

Among those things, he said, were Mr. Obama’s pledges to change the culture of Washington and fight for issues that are important to working people.

Throughout his second bid for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Edwards clashed repeatedly with Mrs. Clinton, particularly in debates. He criticized Mrs. Clinton for accepting campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists, a practice that he fiercely opposed.

And much of his campaign pitch centered on the notion that establishment Washington politicians have become corrupted by the influence of lobbyists for drug companies, oil companies and other corporate interests.

“You can’t just trade corporate Republicans for corporate Democrats,” he told audiences frequently, an attack aimed at Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Edwards’s campaign sounded similar themes to Mr. Obama’s – both candidates positioned themselves as change agents who would clean house in Washington.

But despite heavy courting from both candidates, Mr. Edwards has still not made an endorsement. And the former Edwards supporters cautioned today that their announcement should not be viewed as a sign that Mr. Edwards’s endorsement was right behind. Two former campaign aides of Mr. Edwards said today that he has signaled recently that he may not endorse a candidate at all.

Mr. Turlington said he has “no idea” if Mr. Edwards agrees that Mr. Obama is the better choice. “He’ll make up his own mind,” he said.

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