By Samantha Hayes, Washington, D.C.

April 29, 2008

            She may be trailing  Barack Obama in North Carolina polls, but Hillary Clinton just got a big boost in the state.

            Today, Governor Mike Easley enthusiastically endorsed Clinton's candidacy saying, "It's time for somebody to be in the White House who understands the challenges we face in this country."

            For Clinton, support from Governors seems to be helping her campaign. She was backed in Ohio by Governor Ted Strickland, in Pennsylvania by Governor Ed Rendell, and now by Mike Easley. But in North Carolina, the biggest "get" has so far eluded both candidates.

            Both Clinton and Obama have lobbied hard for the endorsement of their former rival, Carolinian John Edwards, A former Senate colleague. But Edwards has remained kept any preference to himself since dropping his bid for the Democratic nomination in January.  His wife, Elizabeth, has come closer to an endorsement, but stopped short by singling out Clinton's health care policy and giving it, rather than the Senator, her stamp of approval.

            If Edwards plans to endorse either candidate, now would be the time. North Carolina is his home and the state's Democratic primary is next week.  But the New York Times reports that Edwards may be holding back for personal political reasons -- he'd like to play a role in the next administration and doesn't want to pick the wrong candidate. but holding back until after the primary would lessen the impact of his endorsement. And trying to figure out who the nominee will be, as we've seen, is taking longer than anybody would have expected.