Dennis Kucinich advised his supporters Tuesday that if he failed to garner enough backers in the first round of the Iowa caucuses, they should throw their support behind Sen. Barack Obama.
The surprise move is a setback for John Edwards, who benefited from a similar caucus pact with Kucinich on the eve of voting in 2004.
"I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice this Thursday, Kucinich said in a statement to the press. "But in those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice. Sen. Obama and I have one thing in common: Change."
Second choices can be crucial in Iowa where candidates who do not receive the backing of 15 percent of the caucus voters at any particular precinct are deemed not "viable." Their supporters can then throw their support behind another candidate.
In a race as tight as the Democratic contest in Iowa, the support from former backers of second-tier candidates can be crucial on caucus Night.
In a statement emailed out to reporters, Obama thanked the veteran Ohio Congressman for his support.
"I have a lot of respect for Congressman Kucinich, and I'm honored that he has done this because we both believe deeply in the need for fundamental change," said Senator Obama.