Byrd's speeches on the Senate floor in the run-up to the war have become legend on the left, raising his stature nationally. His nod comes too late, however, to help Obama in West Virginia, where he lost to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in a 41-point landslide.
"I had no intention of involving myself in the Democratic campaign for president in the midst of West Virginia's primary election," Byrd said in a statement. "But the stakes this November could not be higher."
Byrd, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was effusive in his praise of Obama, calling him "a noble-hearted patriot and humble Christian" worthy of Byrd's "full faith and support."