Teamsters Back Obama As Clinton Donors Rally

With the Democratic race now coming down to March 4 contests in Ohio and Texas, outside groups are getting involved in hopes of having a say, reports CBS News senior political consultant Marc Ambinder. The most notable of those is the Teamsters union, which is set to endorse Barack Obama today.

The third largest union in the United States – the first, the Service Employees International Union, has endorsed Obama, while the National Education Association has remained neutral – the Teamsters were waiting until after Wisconsin's primary to make their choice, Ambinder says in a blog post.

The union has 1.4 million members and its backing could be particularly useful in Ohio, a blue-collar battleground, and Pennsylvania on April 22, if the race is still competitive. The endorsement would be Obama's second of the day from a labor union, after the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.

But Clinton will get help in Ohio – as well as Texas and Pennsylvania – from an as-yet-unnamed 527 political group (named after the section of the tax code regulating such organizations). The group, Ambinder reports, is asking Clinton donors for pledges of up to $100,000, with a goal of raising $10 million by the end of next week. The law forbids 527 groups from coordinating with campaigns, but the effort appears to be an open secret among the former first lady's donors.

Update: The Teamsters have now made their endorsement of Obama official. "Senator Obama understands the challenges working people face every day," union President Jim Hoffa said in a statement. "He is the candidate in the best position to lead our movement to restore the American dream for working people in this country. Senator Obama will fight for better wages, real health care reform, stronger retirement security, fair trade and an end to the outsourcing of good jobs. He understands the importance of giving workers a voice at work and will fight for strong unions to help rebuild America's middle class."

The endorsement decision follows a meeting in Austin, Texas, between Hoffa and Obama, the statement said.