Christine "Roz" Samuels, a former Clinton superdelegate from New Jersey who announced this morning she was switching her support to Barack Obama, provided this exclusive interview with HuffPost's OffTheBus member Beverly Davis.
"This is America. I have freedom of speech and freedom of choice and I'm free to change my vote. I don't have to answer to anyone except God and my conscience," said Christine "Roz" Samuels as she switched her SuperDelegate vote from Clinton to Obama.
Asked if she had heard from the Clintons before or since she made her SuperDelegate switchover, Samuels said, "I haven't heard from the Clintons and to be truthful, I guess I'm not that important to them. I'm only one of 13 SuperDelegates in New Jersey and I'm following my heart."
A member of the Democratic National Committee since 2004, Christine "Roz" Samuels said that she hasn't been answering her phone all day - trying to avoid just this type of call - but by chance she answered her cell phone and explained that her adult children (all Obama supporters) influenced her decision to join the Obama delegate count column.
"I committed to Senator Clinton nearly a year ago because she's a very brilliant woman and I thought we'd have a big change in the White house if she were a presidential nominee. As a woman, I also wanted to see her elected," said Samuels from her home in Montclair, New Jersey.
But as the campaign started heating up, Samuels said, "I started tuning in and listening to all the Democratic candidates. I liked what I saw and heard from Barack Obama and my opinion of him [as a presidential candidate] began to slowly change. He energizes the younger people and gives them hope."
The former Secretary-Treasurer of the Newark Teachers' Union, Local 481 and former Commissioner of the Essex County Board of Elections, Samuels is also a member of the Montclair Democratic Committee, and remains active in the Montclair and state-wide NAACP.
"Montclair is a stone's throw away from New York City and it's funny because it's a very diverse town. My union supported Hillary Clinton but Obama won Montclair by a landslide on Super Tuesday," said Samuels.
Samuels said she was supporting Senator Obama instead of Senator Clinton and cited his ability to support and unite the country as additional reasons for her change of mind.
"Barack Obama has brought about a new wave of hope and energy to this country, especially among our young people, who represent our future. I want change and Barack can make that change," said Samuels.
Beyond change and unity, Samuels is against the Iraq War and Obama's anti-war stand "from the start" was a better fit than Clinton's for her.
"I also like his education and health care plans and being a minority, a lot of kids don't get that, so I've been doing some soul searching and voted with my heart."
Samuels's positive feelings for Obama stretched back to his keynote address at the National Democratic Convention in 2004.
"I heard Senator Obama in Boston and I thought he gave a terrific speech. I liked him then and after listening to him and the results of the primaries for the last couple of months and the straw poll in Montclair, where he won again, I started changing. And then listening to his energy and how he attracted young people, that's the most important thing he has going for him."
A turn-off for Samuels was the "stuff that the Clintons did down in South Carolina." It didn't make her feel good about handing Hillary Clinton another vote. "I didn't like what I saw down in South Carolina and how the Clintons were running their campaign."
"Obama is a good role model and he's turning out the votes, not only in Montclair but throughout Essex County. Most of my family and friends are voting for Obama. That's the biggest reason I've switched over to Obama is because of the kids. They're our future and Obama gets them excited and involved," she said.
Samuels ended our conversation when a television crew arrived outside her home.
"Sorry, but I've got to go outside. I've promised them an interview."
In the race to gain and to keep SuperDelegates, Samuels' switch is a wake-up call for the Clintons. A lot can happen between now and the Denver Convention in August as another front in this battle opens up - for real - the fight to gain and to keep those illusive SuperDelegates.
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