POLITICS

John Edwards Endorses Obama... GOP Prospects "Worst Since Watergate"

05/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

From the AP:

Democrat John Edwards endorsed former rival Barack Obama on Wednesday, a move designed to help solidify support for the party's likely presidential nominee even as Hillary Rodham Clinton refuses to give up her long-shot candidacy.

Edwards made a surprise appearance with Obama in Grand Rapids, Mich., as the Illinois senator campaigns in a critical general election battleground state.

The endorsement came a day after Clinton defeated Obama by more than 2-to-1 in the West Virginia primary. The loss highlighted Obama's challenge in winning over the "Hillary Democrats" _ white, working-class voters who also supported Edwards in significant numbers before he exited the race in late January.

Edwards, who received a thunderous ovation when Obama introduced him to a crowd of several thousand, said, "brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats" to defeat McCain. "We are here tonight because the Democratic voters have made their choice, and so have I."

He said Obama "stands with me" in a fight to cut poverty in half within 10 years.

Watch video of the rally.

GOP's Prospects Worst Since Watergate: While Obama's candidacy was flying high due to receiving Edwards' endorsement Wednesday, GOP leaders were still recovering from the aftershock of their Tuesday defeat in a special congressional contest in Mississippi. The New York Times reports that:

The level of distress was evident in remarks by senior party officials throughout the day.

"This was a real wake-up call for us," Robert M. Duncan, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview. "We can't let the Democrats take our issues. We can't let them pretend to be conservatives and co-opt the middle and win these elections. We have to get the attention of our incumbents and candidates and make sure they understand this."

Representative Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia and former leader of his party's Congressional campaign committee, issued a dire warning that the Republican Party had been severely damaged, in no small part because of its identification with President Bush. Mr. Davis said that, unless Republican candidates changed course, they could lose 20 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate.

"They are canaries in the coal mine, warning of far greater losses in the fall, if steps are not taken to remedy the current climate," Mr. Davis said in a memorandum. "The political atmosphere facing House Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than it was in 2006."

***EARLIER***

ABC News confirms that John Edwards will endorse Barack Obama at an event tonight in Michigan:

Former Sen. John Edwards is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama's presidential candidate Wednesday evening, in a dramatic attempt by the Obama campaign to answer concerns regarding Obama's appeal to working-class voters, several senior Democratic sources tell ABC News.

Edwards, who ran for president on a platform of eradicating poverty, plans to appear alongside Obama in Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday evening. The event comes one day after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Obama by 41 points in the West Virginia primary, and Edwards' endorsement will give Obama a key establishment stamp of approval as he attempts to close out the nominating process. ...

A source close to the Clinton campaign said the Edwards camp gave the Clinton folks a head's up.

"Clearly it's upsetting" the source tells ABC. "He brings the workers" to Obama.

The Michigan Monitor is live-blogging the Obama/Edwards rally here.

Time's Mark Halperin says a source reports that Edwards was on Obama's campaign plane today, and NBC News notes the impact this could have on the delegate count:

Edwards has 18 pledged delegates.

Even if all of those people voted for Obama, and there's no guarantee they would, it wouldn't quite give Obama a majority in pledged delegates, but it would get him close. Edwards' people are really loyal and might not vote for Obama or Hillary or whoever -- even if Edwards tells them to.

Original Post: The Obama campaign has announced a "major national endorsement" for a rally tonight at 7pm in Michigan, and the rumor mill is swirling that it is none other than Sen. John Edwards. Time's Mark Halperin is teasing as much at his Web site, with a photo of Edwards and the text, "Ready to choose? Ready to hope?"

Edwards has certainly dropped some hints in recent days. He's chided Hillary Clinton over her comments about race, said he can't figure out how Clinton could ever win the nomination, and even said he planned to endorse the person he voted for in North Carolina's primary, using (it seems) the word "him."

On the other hand, in an interview with People magazine, Edwards said of Obama, "Sometimes I want to see more substance under the rhetoric."

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