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Ron Elving discusses Sen. Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama on Day to Day

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How Much Does Kennedy Backing Matter?

Election 2008

How Much Does Kennedy Backing Matter?

Ron Elving discusses Sen. Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama on Day to Day

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Senator Ted Kennedy and his niece Caroline Kennedy have both endorsed Barack Obama. NPR's Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving discusses what this means and how Republican candidates are preparing for Tuesday's primary in Florida.

Sen. Kennedy Endorses Obama

David Welna reports on All Things Considered

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Ron Elving discusses Sen. Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama on Day to Day

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Illinois Sen. Barack Obama hugs Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts after he and Caroline Kennedy endorsed the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Emmanuel Dunan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Emmanuel Dunan/AFP/Getty Images

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama hugs Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts after he and Caroline Kennedy endorsed the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Emmanuel Dunan/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Edward Kennedy on Monday endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying the Illinois senator is a man with both leadership and character.

During a rally at American University in Washington, the veteran Massachusetts senator and youngest brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy said Obama generates hope that the nation's greatest days are ahead.

"With Barack Obama we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay," Kennedy said.

The Democratic Party stalwart, who has been in the Senate since 1962, is expected to actively campaign for Obama in the days leading up to the "Super Tuesday" primaries on Feb. 5.

Kennedy's son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) has also endorsed Obama, as did niece Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the former president.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times on Sunday, Caroline Kennedy said that Obama may inspire people the way her father did. She introduced her uncle to an enthusiastic crowd at American University on Monday, reiterating her support for Obama.

The Kennedy family is not united behind Obama, however.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and former Maryland lieutenant governor, threw her support behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama's main rival for the Democratic nomination.

"I respect Caroline and Teddy's decision, but I have made a different choice," Kennedy Townsend said.

Still Anyone's Game

The Democratic nomination is still up for grabs, even though Obama soundly beat Clinton and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in South Carolina's Democratic primary on Saturday.

The candidates are now concentrating their efforts on the states that vote Feb. 5, though Clinton has promised to travel to Florida on Tuesday night after that state's primary.

The Democratic National Committee stripped Florida of its delegates to the party's nominating convention because the state moved its primaries up to Jan. 29.

Author Points to Obama's 'Vision'

Obama gained another notable endorsement from Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.

Morrison said she is inspired by Obama and prefers his "vision" over rival Sen. Clinton's experience.

It was Morrison who famously called former President Bill Clinton "the first black president" in a 1998 magazine column.

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