For Obama And Clinton, Endorsements Won And Debated

Barack Obama has been piling up the endorsements lately: John Kerry, Nevada unions, and now, according to the Associated Press, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and two-time presidential candidate and former Colorado Democratic Senator Gary Hart.*

The formal announcement concerning Napolitano is expected to come this afternoon. Napolitano is in her second-term and is well known in Arizona, and could help Obama in nearby Nevada, where caucuses will be held Jan. 19. The AP reports the pair will appear together in Las Vegas this evening.

Hart, who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, called Obama "the embodiment of what is best about our nation." He said in a release that ``Senator Obama's personal history uniquely qualifies him to restore America's standing in the world.''

Democratic Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, meanwhile, is now weighing an endorsement – one that could factor heavily with both African-Americans and South Carolinians. The New York Times reports that Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, had planned to remain neutral in the race but is now considering changing his mind over Hillary Clinton's comments on civil rights.

On Monday, Clinton said "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ... It took a president to get it done." She was trying to make a case for what she sees as the importance of her experience and competence compared to rival Barack Obama's uplifting rhetoric. Her advisors later said the comments did not capture her meaning.

"We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics," Clyburn, a longtime civil rights activist, told the Times. "It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone's motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those. That bothered me a great deal."

South Carolina Democrats go to the polls on Jan. 26th, and African-American voters are expected to be a major factor. "His influence would be extraordinary if he should endorse somebody," South Carolina Democratic activist Don Fowler told the Times.

*This post has been updated with news of Hart's endorsement.