OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination Wednesday, calling him an inspirational leader who can unite the country.
"I believe Senator Obama is uniquely positioned to unite our nation and move beyond the divisiveness and partisan skirmishes that too often characterize politics as usual in Washington," Henry said early Wednesday in a statement released by the Obama press office in Chicago.
The endorsement one day after the Pennsylvania primary gave Obama the official support of three of the state's 10 superdelegates, while Clinton has the backing of one superdelegate. The rest are uncommitted.
Henry, a moderate Democrat in a Republican-trending state, said he had worked hard to build a consensus across party lines on such issues as education, job creation and health care and "that is why I am so enthusiastic about Barack Obama's candidacy."
"Senator Obama understands that the serious concerns facing average Americans must transcend partisan games if we are to rise to the challenges of today and tomorrow. He is a strong, committed and inspirational leader, ideally suited to bring together Democrats, independents and Republicans," Henry said.
Obama said he was proud of Henry's support "as we continue to build our grass-roots movement for change." He said Henry had "achieved real results" as a consensus builder himself in Oklahoma.
"We're fortunate to have Governor Henry's backing, and I look forward to working with him in the months ahead to bring about real change not just for Oklahomans, but all Americans," Obama said.
Henry became the first major Democratic elected official from Oklahoma to endorse Obama. The state's only Democratic congressman, Rep. Dan Boren, remains uncommitted as a superdelegate, although his father, David Boren, has endorsed the Illinois senator. David Boren is a former governor and senator.
The 44-year-old governor's endorsement came despite Obama getting only 31 percent of the Democratic primary vote in Oklahoma's Democratic primary on Feb. 5 against Hillary Rodham Clinton, who got 55 percent.
Clinton also picked up a superdelegate Wednesday _ Rep. John Tanner of Tennessee, co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally-conservative Democrats in Congress.
Tanner, who said the country is facing an economic crisis, praised Clinton in a statement released by her campaign as a leader "who can work with others to return to fiscal sanity."