John Kerry Rallies with Obama in South Carolina Barack Obama won the endorsement Thursday of the Democrat's previous presidential nominee, John Kerry. They spoke together in South Carolina, where the Democratic primary is less than two weeks away. Kerry's endorsement was a slight to Hillary Clinton and to John Edwards, Kerry's running mate in 2004.
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John Kerry Rallies with Obama in South Carolina

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John Kerry Rallies with Obama in South Carolina

John Kerry Rallies with Obama in South Carolina

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Democrat Barack Obama was in South Carolina today, too, and he received an endorsement from his party's last presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry.

Both men greeted supporters at a rally in Charleston as the Obama campaign shores up support with an eye to that state's Democratic primary on January 26th.

NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR: Kerry delivered his endorsement today in a city where he formerly launched his own presidential bid more than four years ago. Standing not far from whether he had made that announcement, Kerry chose words from civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL SPEECH)

JOHN KERRY: Martin Luther King says that the time is always right to do what is right. And I'm here in South Carolina because this is the right time to share with you to make sure that we know that I have the confidence and that Barack Obama can be, will be and should be the next president of the United States.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

NAYLOR: Kerry said there were other candidates in the race who he's worked with and respects, each of whom, he said, could be president tomorrow, that presumably includes Senator John Edwards, Kerry's running mate in 2004. While he did not mention any candidates by name, he seemed to single out Senator Hillary Clinton for criticism, alluding to her remark at last Saturday's debate that, quote, "we don't need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered."

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL SPEECH)

KERRY: Some have suggested in this campaign that Barack is guilty of raising false hopes. My friends, the only charge that rings false is one that tells you not to hope for a better tomorrow.

NAYLOR: For his part, Edwards issued a statement saying that he respects the decision of his former running mate but still believes the race is about the future and not the past.

Obama received the endorsement at a sunny, noonday rally at the College of Charleston, where a large crowd with many students and supporters stood under trees that were draped with Spanish moss. Obama called it a spectacular day and he praised Kerry for his service in Vietnam and for raising a voice against that war when he returned.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL SPEECH)

BARACK OBAMA: John Kerry is a man of courage, a man of conviction and a man whose life soared(ph), a man whose life story has given him an intimate understanding of the kind of change we need right now.

NAYLOR: Obama also picked up the endorsements of Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota and California Congressman George Miller. The effect of any endorsement is debatable but Kerry's comes with something that may prove quite valuable - his list. It reportedly contains the e-mail addresses of more than three million supporters whom Obama can now call upon for campaign contributions and organizing help. Obama spoke as he usually does before large banners, with the words, change we can believe in. He noted that it's a theme other candidates have been sounding off late.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL SPEECH)

OBAMA: There's no message of change - it's been our message since the beginning of this campaign. It was our message when we were down as message when we were up. And it must have caught on because I noticed now everybody's talking about change.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

OBAMA: And you know that's a good thing. We want everybody on the change bandwagon.

NAYLOR: Kerry's endorsement of Obama continues on mutually beneficial relationship between the two men. Obama first gained national attention when he delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, which nominated Kerry. Obama hopes it will be his convention this summer.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Charleston, South Carolina.

NORRIS: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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