By Samantha Hayes, in Washington, D.C.
May 15, 2008
Senator Hillary Clinton had one day to celebrate her landslide victory in the West Virginia Democratic primary before the headlines changed. And they changed in her opponents favor.
Clinton's campaign had been saying her win in West Virginia proved a deficiency in Barack Obama. That his message doesn't connect with rural, white, working class voters.
Senator John Edwards disagrees. Both Obama and Clinton had been courting their former rival for months, hoping that his nod would sway the race in their favor. It took a while for Edwards to weigh in, but Wednesday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he made his choice clear. "There is one man who knows and understands that this is a time for bold leadership," said Edwards, "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' endorsement also seemed to be a message of unity, and he spent several minutes beforehand praising Senator Hillary Clinton for her strength and tenacity.
The endorsement from Edwards may also lend support for Obama in the form of delegates. Edwards won 19 during his time in the race and they are now free to choose either Clinton or Obama. Several union endorsements may also be up for grabs. The Pittsburgh-based Steelworkers union had endorsed Edwards, but changed to Obama. The union has 600,000 members and may help Obama attract support from a voting demographic he has been struggling to win.
The next test will come this Tuesday, when Oregon and Kentucky hold primaries. Barack Obama has already said that if he has the majority of delegates after those two contests, he will claim victory and the nomination. While Clinton may be favored to win Kentucky, Obama is hoping Edwards' support will change that.