Edwards to Endorse Obama
NOAH ADAMS, host:
From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Noah Adams.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
Barack Obama has gotten one of the most sought-after endorsements of the Democratic primary race. John Edwards will join Obama at a rally this evening and announce his support. Edwards' endorsement has been the object of much speculation and intense wooing by both Obama and Clinton campaigns.
NPR's Don Gonyea is on the Obama campaign bus in Western Michigan. He joins us now. Don, John Edwards has been pretty coy about who he voted for and who he plan to endorse. What does his endorsement mean at this stage in the campaign?
DON GONYEA: Well, it's not clear exactly what it means at this stage because, again, it does come very late in the campaign. We have reached a phase, Michele, where everybody is doing a math. And we've all been reporting about what a steep uphill climb Senator Clinton has if she hopes to somehow takes the nomination away, the nomination that at this point Barack Obama seems to be on cruise control in these final weeks of the campaign, you know, locking up not just pledged delegates but superdelegate after superdelegate after superdelegate as well.
That said, this is still a big endorsement. Edwards is one of the, you know, big names who is out there. And perhaps what it does more than anything else is kind of, you know, helped to slam the door shut on Senator Clinton. The door that was perhaps rapidly closing all by itself.
NORRIS: Yeah. Well, she sees that door as still being wide open. She plans to stay in the race. As interesting note, John Edwards won about seven percent of the vote yesterday in West Virginia, even though he's no longer an official presidential candidate. Could John Edwards' support help Barack Obama with some of those blue-collar voters and white voters who seem to be rallying around Senator Clinton?
GONYEA: That is certainly the hope of the Obama campaign. It is an area where they continue to have trouble. They note that they've been doing better according to exit polls with those voters, you know, in the contest since Pennsylvania. But still, those voters are the ones that are still more likely to look to Senator Clinton. They're the ones who seem more likely to have questions about Senator Obama. It's part of the reason why he is in Michigan today. He was in McCone County, the home of, you know, what we used to - Reagan Democrats.
Still, it's been a long time since Ronald Reagan's name has been on a ballot. But he is trying to figure out ways to reach out to those voters and to really make the case to those voters. He's making the case differentiating himself from not so much Hillary Clinton but John McCain. And Edwards is the guy who's good on the stump, and he's going to be out there helping Obama make that very case.
NORRIS: So what tipped the balance? Any sense of what the Obama camp did to get this nod?
GONYEA: Well, there - we don't know at this point. Again, this news is literally just breaking in the last 30 minutes or so. And we'll have a chance to talk about all that. You know, perhaps, the thing he did more than anything was become, you know, inevitable.
There's not a lot of risk for Edwards here to kind of put it on the line. He's backing the guy who, again, had all the numbers in favor of him as he - you know, he's going to spend these last few weeks of the campaign trying to nail down a nomination that, you know, the numbers are really working in his favor in terms of securing it. So what tipped the balance now beyond that, we just don't know at this point.
NORRIS: Don, just quickly, since you're inside the campaign cocoon, how are they reacting to this?
GONYEA: They were teasing this for about the last two hours, saying, you know, anybody who's thinking of getting off the plane now, you will regret not being there in Grand Rapids. They think this is a very big get. They are very excited about it. They're very anxious to see Senator Edwards on the stage with Senator Obama here in Grand Rapids today, with Senator Edwards making the case for Senator Obama's candidacy.
NORRIS: Thank you, Don.
GONYEA: A pleasure.
NORRIS: That was NPR's Don Gonyea. He's on the Obama campaign bus. He spoke to us from Western Michigan.