Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Tide

There are two endorsements left in the Democratic Party that are huge and coveted. One is Senator Ted Kennedy, the best known and most respected elder statesman in the party. The other is one of the rising stars in the party: Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

News reports today say they will both soon endorse Barack Obama.

According to this report, Sebelius, who will deliver the official Democratic Party response to Bush's State of the Union address Monday, will endorse Obama shortly afterwards, perhaps on Tuesday. [Update: It probably will be Tuesday. Obama is scheduled to be in Kansas, where his mother was born.]

Multiple news sources are saying that Ted Kennedy will endorse Obama on Monday. This Kos diary quotes the Boston Globe as saying that it will be more than an endorsement--Kennedy is going to campaign for Obama in the Tsunami Tuesday states. Kennedy has the star power to offset Bill Clinton, and he can help introduce Obama to voters who are just getting focused on their primary. That's a tremendous asset to have with little more than a week before 22 states vote.

There are actually a couple of other endorsements that carry weight, most notably Al Gore. When asked, he said he would endorse at some point in the process. (One blogger with a good record of predicting endorsements hints that Gore could be next to endorse Obama.)

However, Ted Kennedy was widely expected not to endorse anyone, so that he could help heal any divisions that might occur. The diary above quotes sources as saying that the Clintons tried desperately to persuade him not to endorse with a barrage of phone calls, including one from Bill Clinton.

In today's New York Times, Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama, comparing him to her father, President John F. Kennedy. Also in the Times, this story suggests that the first Kennedy to support Obama was Ethel Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy's widow:

It was on a November day in 2005, near the end of Mr. Obama’s first year in the Senate, when he was asked to deliver a keynote address at a ceremony commemorating the 80th birthday of Robert F. Kennedy. The invitation was extended by Ethel Kennedy, who at the time referred to Mr. Obama as “our next president.”

“I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did,” Mrs. Kennedy told me that day, comparing her late husband’s quest for social justice to Mr. Obama’s. “He has the passion in his heart. He’s not selling you. It’s just him.”

Another story quotes Harris Wofford, former Senator from PA and a longtime associate of JFK and RFK: Old hands to President Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy came out for Obama, in part because he reminded them of the charismatic brothers. One of the former advisers, Harris Wofford, said Obama “touches my soul.” “For me, no one has done that since John, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King,” Wofford said in December. “I waited a long time to have that feeling.”

No comments: